Flu Vaccine: What to Eat Before and After to Boost Your Immunity

Flu Vaccine: What to Eat Before and After to Boost Your Immunity

The WHO recommends consuming a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables.

Photo: Trang Doan / Pexels

The immune system is influenced by many factors, one of them is diet. Your diet can help your flu vaccine be more effective.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the disease. While some vaccinated people may get sick, studies have shown that getting vaccinated can reduce the severity of flu symptoms.

What to eat to promote immunity

There is no specific food or nutrient that immediately strengthens immunity. The Harvard School of Public Health points out that to boost your defenses you need a balanced diet. “A diet lacking in one or more nutrients can affect the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies.

The World Health Organization recommends:

1. Eat a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables. Eat a combination of whole grains such as wheat, corn, or rice every day; legumes such as lentils or beans, fresh vegetables and fruits and some food of animal origin.

Fish, poultry, and eggs are some healthy animal-based options. Limit your consumption of processed meats.

2. Reduce your salt intake. Cook with little salt, reduce the consumption of salty sauces and condiments; If you consume canned foods, opt for products without added salt or sugar. Limit your salt intake to 5 grams a day (equivalent to one teaspoon).

3. Moderate the consumption of fats and oils. Instead of cooking with butter or lard, opt for healthy oils like olive oil.

WHO suggests boiling or steaming food rather than frying it.

4. Limit your sugar intake. Limit soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, sports drinks, flavored waters and other sugary drinks. Choose fresh fruit over sweets like cookies, cakes, and chocolate.

5. Stay hydrated. Plain water is the healthiest drink, according to the WHO.

Avoid smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages

Drinking alcohol is one of the worst eating habits that can affect the immune system. Alcohol undermines your body’s ability to cope with infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“Heavy alcohol use can make it harder for your body to resist disease, which increases the risk of contracting various diseases, especially pneumonia”Says Mayo Clinic.

Reduce your intake of highly processed foods

Harvard shares that diets consisting primarily of ultra-processed foods and lacking minimally processed foods can negatively affect a healthy immune system.

What else to do to make the flu vaccine more effective:

Receive the vaccine at the right time

The CDC notes that September and October are a good time to get a flu shot. Ideally, get vaccinated at the end of October.

If you get the vaccine too late, your body may not have enough time to develop antibodies to protect you. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination.

Sleep enough

During sleep, a type of cytokine is released that fights infection; Too little sleep reduces the amount of these cytokines and other immune cells.

Manage mental stress

Harvard explains that stress releases cortisol that suppresses inflammation and the action of white blood cells. Inflammation is initially required to activate immune cells.

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