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Eating to prevent colds and flu

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Unless you live in a bubble, you are being exposed to sneezing, bacteria-covered doorknobs, and germ-infested work environments. The old phrase, “what you can’t see won’t hurt you”, isn’t necessarily true when it comes to viruses. Finish up this winter season sickness-free by taking good care of yourself. Washing your hands often is one line of defense. Another is loading up your diet with foods that will help fight off illness.

Here are the best nutrients for keeping your immune system strong:

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, helps regulate the immune system. According to a 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people with low levels of Vitamin D are more susceptible to catching colds. Eat regular food sources of vitamin D, including, salmon, fortified milk and yogurt, and eggs.

Vitamin C has always been known to be a powerhouse for immunity. Eat vitamin C-rich foods daily, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Vitamin C is reduced in foods with lengthy storage times and those that have been cooked in water. Fortunately, many of these foods are eaten in their raw form.

Flavonoids is a term you can start throwing around to impress your family and co-workers. Flavonoids are found abundantly in fruits and vegetables. They are important components of a healthy diet because of their antioxidant potency. This potency helps to prevent and/or delay the onset of certain diseases and helps keep your immune system in top shape. Eat at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, such as broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and berries to help keep you healthy and boost your immune system. Green and black tea are also rich in flavonoids.

Zinc is a mineral that has been associated with cold prevention and also shortening the duration of a cold when it occurs. It is best to get zinc through your diet, by including foods such as meat, wheat germ, fortified cereal and nuts. 


2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice, drained

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

˝ cup vegetable broth

1 frozen bag of pepper stir-fry vegetables

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, thyme and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add pepper stir fry and continue simmering until peppers are hot, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per 1 cup serving: 107 calories, 5.2 grams fat, 82 milligrams sodium, 4.8 grams fiber, 13.7 grams carbohydrate, 7.2 grams sugar, 3.2 grams protein, 49 percent vitamin C

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