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The 10 Flu-Fighting Foods You Should Stock Up On

These nutrient-rich gems can dial up your natural defenses in as little as two days

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Story Highlights
Eating well can help your body fight off viruses
Seafood is loaded with immunity-boosting zinc
Red wine can actually help block the growth and spread of viruses
Your digestive track produces 70 percent of your immune cells, so keep it happy by eating yogurt


Enjoy two cups a week and your white blood cells could attack invading flu viruses as vigorously as they did when you were a kid, UCLA research shows. Sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli, switches on genes that make your immune system feistier, explains lead researcher Andre Nel, M.D.


Salmon, tuna, shrimp...whatever seafood you love, enjoying two six-ounce servings weekly can cut the lifespan of viruses by 42 percent, say European researchers. Seafood is packed with selenium and zinc -- immunity-boosting nutrients often missing in today’s hurried diets.

Pink grapefruit

Eat half a pink grapefruit daily and you’ll cut your risk of the flu as much as 20 percent, (at the least bounce back three days faster if you do fall ill), say UCLA researchers. Pink grapefruit contains double the antioxidants of it’s paler cousin -- antioxidants kick-start the growth of virus-killing immune cells.


This herb is packed with 70 sulfur compounds that fire up infection-fighting antibodies within 48 hours. One clove daily can do the trick. For best results, let chopped garlic sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes before cooking -- the air allows converts the garlic’s sulfur compounds into their most active flu-fighting form.

Sweet potatoes

They’re nature’s richest source of beta-carotene, a nutrient that strengthens the respiratory tract lining so that even aggressive flu viruses have trouble sneaking through, says Daniel Nadeau, M.D., co-author of The Color Code. Munch a half a cup daily, and you’ll cut your risk of illness by 33 percent.

Black or green tea

Either tea can help your body produce proteins that quickly destroy viral invaders. Sip 20 ounces (about two and a half cups) a day to up production by three times. You can feel better in as soon as five days, say Stanford University researchers.


Mushrooms help energize sluggish white blood cells, doubling your ability to fight off flu viruses, say researchers at University of California, Davis. And any mushroom will do the trick, so experiment! Try criminis, portabellas or enokis if you find button mushrooms dull.

Red wine

Women who sip four to eight ounces of red wine daily are 30 percent less likely to catch the flu compared to teetotalers. Flavonoids -- plant compounds found in purple and red grape skins -- block the growth and spread of viruses, say Yale researchers. But stick to one.


This spice can add a golden hue and mildly spicy flavor to any dish, and 1/4 teaspoon daily strengthens immunity in as little as seven days, say researchers at San Francisco’s University of California.

Greek yogurt

Your digestive tract produces 70 percent of your immune cells, making it a key line of defense against the flu. “Greek yogurt contains the healing bacteria your digestive tract needs to function at its peak, but none of the immunity-weakening sugars found in regular yogurts,” says Fred Pescatore, M.D., author of Boost Your Health With Bacteria. To cut your infection risk as much as 58 percent, enjoy one cup of Greek yogurt daily.

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Stay at least 10 feet away from a sickie to avoid catching germs.

Make that 15 feet if the person seems really sick. The virus-filled water droplets that come out of their orifices when they sneeze or cough can actually travel that far! While you can’t catch the flu by simply touching a computer or elevator button, you can catch a cold that way. So wash your hands during cold and flu season. Often.

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The most natural way to fight off the flu is to be a couch potato.

The flu can render you useless for days. Most of the time getting a little R&R is just what the doctor ordered. It may sound simple, but a rested body is much better at fighting off the virus than a tired one.

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Don’t hesitate to vaccinate -- not doing it could infect someone else.

Last year only 45 percent of Americans ages six months and older got the flu vaccine. The result? Boston had so many outbreaks the city declared a public health emergency. Excuses for not getting vaccinated vary from I'm young and healthy, I've never gotten the flu or I have a strong immune system. Truth is, it doesn't hurt you (nope, the flu shot does not give you the flu), but it might hurt someone else -- if you don't get the shot and the catch the flu, you could easily and pass it to somebody who is high risk, like a pregnant woman, young kids or someone over 65.

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