Swine Flu
Boost your Immune System to Stay Well

Swine Flu and Diet

It seems you can't turn on the tv or read a newspaper or blog right now without hearing about the Swine Flu.

The recent scare has everyone pondering the same question...

...what can I do to keep myself and my family safe?

Boost your Immune System to Stay Well!

As a dietitian, I've always considered healthy food my best defense against any kind of illness.

A good diet can help strengthen your immune system. A good strong immune system can defend against diseases...including the swine flu.

Conclusion: Eat well and increase your odds of staying healthy.

Here's what you can do. I'll call it the "Swine Flu Prevention Diet:"

Drink plenty of (calorie free, non-caffeinated) beverages.

Your body needs to be adequately hydrated in order to function properly and fend off viral invaders.

Water is the best beverage, although other liquids count toward your total fluid requirement too! (Not alcoholic beverages though...sorry!)

Divide your weight by 2. That's the number of ounces of fluid you should drink every day.

Example: If you weigh 160 pounds, you need 80 ounces of fluid (10 cups). If you weigh 100 pounds, you need 50 ounces (6 1/4 cups).

You may need even more fluid if you engage in heavy exercise or live in a hot dry climate (like I do, here in Tucson, AZ!)

Eat good food.

Translation: Eat whole, unprocessed foods.

A diet of junk food, fast food, sugar sweetened drinks, and white flour products may taste really yummy, but it will not result in a strong immune system.

Choose nutrient rich, whole, colorful foods. You know...

...foods our caveman ancestors would have eaten! You don't think they ate Ding Dongs and drank Starbucks coffee do you?

What you can eat to strengthen your immune system against infection from the swine flu

Choose antioxidant rich foods and foods with antiviral properties to give your immune system a boost:

  • darkly colored berries
  • all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.)
  • citrus fruits
  • leafy green vegetables
  • nuts and seeds, especially Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • garlic, onions and shitake mushrooms
  • ginger

Other excellent foods and herbs:

  • Oregano
  • Cloves
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Cumin
  • Aloe Vera
  • Spirulina
  • Green Tea

Choose organic fruits and vegetables (or at least prioritize buying these particular 12 fruits and vegetables organic).

Here's a sample menu for a "Swine Flu prevention diet"...

...otherwise known as a nutrient packed, immune system boosting menu:

Breakfast:
Old fashioned oats topped with strawberries and pumpkin seeds.

Am Snack:
orange

Lunch:
Spinach salad that includes baby spinach, red onions, shitake mushrooms. Top with a piece of poached salmon. Drizzle with olive oil.

Snack:
Plain nonfat yogurt topped with Brazil nuts and blackberries..

Dinner:
Grilled chicken
Steamed Brussels sprouts
Baked sweet potato

I'm getting hungry....

Other simple things you can do to boost your immune system and possibly protect yourself from the Swine Flu:

Get Your Vitamin D

Get out for 15-30 minutes of sunlight per day.

Get enough sleep: 7-8 hours/night

I know. Sometimes this is easier said than done.

However, you should make getting adequate sleep a priority. Inadequate sleep can weaken your immune system over time.

Here's a secret to good sleep:

Make your bedroom like a cave...

...cool and dark.

Turn your digital clock away from you or cover it up, hang black out curtain, or paint your room a dark color. Open the windows or turn down the air before you lay down. You'll be amazed at how such small things can make such a big difference!

De-stress

Again, easier said than done, I know! Stress is toxic and will suppress your immune system!

Yoga anyone?

If yoga is not for you, take a walk, talk to a friend, journal your fears, take a nice long bubble bath, etc. Find a way to relax.

Get moderate exercise.

Strengthens the entire body and is a great way to reduce stress.

Don't forget the obvious.

Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough.

Of course there are no guarantees. It sure feels good to control the things you can control however!

Here's to healthy eating!

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