Cold and flu season is here, and everyone seems to be running to the pharmacy to get help. However, not all treatments are found over the counter, there are foods that can make a difference in your immunity, giving you the best of nutrients your body needs to effectively fight off illness.

We spoke to dietitian, nutritionist and spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Isabel Maples on which flu fighting foods you can have which can help you get through the winter season. 

Maples said a balanced diet is a good idea any time of the year but especially during cold and flu season. 

“While a healthy diet won’t prevent every sniffle, building a strong immune system is a great defense against what might otherwise ail you. Nutrients well recognized for their role in building immunity include zinc and vitamins A, C and E. Others (vitamin B6, folate, copper, iron, selenium, plus prebiotics and probiotics) may also influence the immune response”, she said. 

Here are Maples food picks that can help you fight the cold and flu:

Lamb is a rich source of protein. Protein plays a role in the body’s natural defence mechanism. Antibodies (which are built from protein) work to fight diseases, in part by sticking to the disease-causing microorganisms, causing them to clump together. 

Kiwi contains vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid). Vitamin C stimulates the white blood cells to produce antibodies that then go after viruses and bacteria.
Mushrooms are anti-inflammatory foods. These have anti-viral benefits. Mushrooms can also supply vitamin D which plays a role in immunity and they are high in selenium, niacin, riboflavin---nutrients which may play a role in bolstering immunity.

Yoghurt is a delicious source of “good bacteria”. Probiotics, “good bacteria,” seem to help keep us healthier. The good bacteria crowd out the “bad bacteria” which otherwise could cause disease, lower immunity, and more.

Oatmeal is a source of fibre (4g per cup). Half of the fibre is soluble and the other half is insoluble (both types of fibre are healthy additions). The soluble fibre includes beta-glucan which “good bacteria” in our guts to flourish. 

Like many dark green leafy vegetables, spinach is an excellent source of beta carotene, which the body makes into vitamin A and vitamin A helps regulate the immune system. 

Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is known to boost the immune system. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E but among nuts, almonds are the highest in vitamin E). One ounce of nuts (23 almonds=a handful) has about half the Vitamin E one needs in a day.