What to Eat to Prevent Getting a Cold or the Flu

Your First Line of Defense

The foods you eat and your general nutrition plays a big role in your ability to fight off illness. Good nutrition boosts your immune system, giving your body the power to resist viruses like the cold or flu. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you get from food help to protect your body against harmful germs.

The Protein Power Players

Protein is important for building muscle, but it is also important to help keep your immune system in great shape. Fish, especially oily fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds help reduce inflammation.


Chronic inflammation prevents your immune system from working properly making you more susceptible to illness. Lean proteins like skinless turkey breast are good for boosting immunity as well. This healthy protein helps to fight infections by building antibodies. You can also eat meatless sources of protein, like Brazil nuts as well. Brazil nuts are also high in selenium, a mineral that may help protect against infections and the flu.

Fruits and Vegetables

When most people think of eating healthy, they usually think of fruits and vegetables first. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are packed with vitamin C.


Recent research shows that vitamin C may not be as effective in preventing colds, but they can still reduce the length of a cold by one day if vitamin C is taken at the first sign of a cold. Leafy greens like kale and arugula are packed with nutrients like vitamin A and C, and also contribute iron and fiber. Arugula has been shown to help relieve chest congestion and cough. Mushrooms contain loads of vitamin B, antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. All of these nutrients contribute to a healthier immune system.

Starches and Carbs

You may think starches and carbs are something to avoid if you want to eat healthy, but when eaten in moderation, they can actually help increase your ability to ward off illness. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, and when eaten, our bodies convert this to vitamin A.


Vitamin A helps our mucous membranes function properly. Oats contain beta-glucan, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and boost immunity. A bowl of oatmeal can help prevent upper respiratory infections and possibly build white blood cells, which help fight infections.

A healthy, balanced diet is one of the best ways to stop illness before it even starts. If you do catch a cold or the flu this winter, and your symptoms are severe, come to your nearest  Neighbors Emergency Center. We are open 24/7/365, and we have short wait times to get you back to doing what you love most. Find your nearest Neighbors at nec24.com.

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