Healthy fruits
A diet rich in essential nutrients and liquids is part of the ‘bundled approach’ to fighting the flu. (Photo: Pexels)

As the temperature drops below zero and flu season gears up, we asked UHN's Clinical Nutrition team what food items to stock up on to protect our immune systems.

Their top tip? Don't wait until you are sick to try to eat healthy – making healthy choices every day helps to keep your ability to fight infection at its peak. 

Vitamin C

When life gives you lemons, put slices of them in your water for a kick of Vitamin C! An antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C is crucial for your immune system. Add a boost to your breakfast cereal with sliced kiwis or toss some berries on your salads. Click here for a list of food sources of Vitamin C.

Keep hydrated

The air is drier during winter and can cause tiny cracks in your mucous membranes, which makes you more likely to get sick. Stay well hydrated to keep mucous membranes moist and improve your immunity. Water, soup, tea, milk and juice are all liquids that count for hydration.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps boost your immune system and found mostly in foods that contain fat, such as nuts and seeds. Some ways to boost the Vitamin E in your diet are to include a small portion of almonds as a snack, add unsalted sunflower seeds to your morning bowl of oatmeal, or add a tablespoon of peanut butter to a smoothie. Click here for a list of food sources of Vitamin E.

Selenium

This mineral works with Vitamin E to keep you healthy. Oysters, nuts and whole grains are good sources of selenium. Brazil nuts have one of the highest concentrations of selenium and can easily be added to foods or eaten on their own as a snack. Click here for a list of food sources of selenium.

Probiotics

Keep your gut healthy with these friendly bacteria, which also help to reduce the length and severity of colds and flu. You can find these warrior bacteria in probiotic yogurt or kefir.

Keep healthy snack options on hand like fruit, vegetable sticks, nuts and yogurt for those times when you need to eat something in a hurry. These foods are great sources of vitamins, minerals and protein which all help support our immune system.

Already sick?

Sometimes we get sick regardless of how hard we try to avoid it. A nice warm bowl of soup provides fluids and almost everyone finds comfort in soup when they are feeling under the weather. 

Chicken noodle soup and other warm liquids help to soothe your throat and relieve congestion. To increase antioxidants add herbs, spices such as curry, thyme or garlic and pack your soup full of vegetables.


Eating well, sleeping well, good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and getting the flu shot are all part of the 'bundled approach' to stay healthy and flu-free.

UHN staff can get flu shots at all sites until Nov. 17. Flu cart schedules can be found here.

Enter to win $200

It's not too late to enter our #TakeYourBestShot contest for a chance to win one of five $200 Cadillac Fairview gift cards.

  1. Roll up your sleeves for the flu shot
  2. Take a photo of your flu shot sticker on your UHN badge
  3. Tweet it @UHN_News with the hashtag #TakeYourBestShot, or
  4. Email us your picture to social@uhn.ca with #TakeYourBestShot in the subject line

The winners of the contest will be contacted at the end of the campaign.

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