There is a lot you can do in your own kitchen to help fight off disease and build a strong immune system.
Scientists in the growing field of nutritional immunology are unveiling new evidence of the complex role that nutrition plays in fighting off infectious diseases like influenza.
A diet rich in nutrients such as vitamin A and zinc can provide the critical fuel your body needs to fight off disease, heal injuries, and survive illness when it does strike. Studies in healthy elderly adults, have shown an improved immune response and fewer infections after receiving extra doses of vitamin E.
Studies also show that obesity, in addition to its other health risks, may make people more susceptible to infections like the flu. A diet heavy on processed and fast foods may be low in the vitamins and minerals important for health.
But experts caution against loading up on supplements to add vitamins and minerals to the diet. Individual supplements and vitamin pills may not be as well absorbed by your body as nutrients in foods. Some supplements also can have toxic effects in too-high quantities. An excess of zinc can interfere with absorption of other nutrients. And too much of the mineral selenium can cause nerve damage and has been linked recently to an increased risk of diabetes.
Nutritional experts generally agree that the best way to get the right balance of nutrients is a good diet.