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BOISE, Idaho -- As millions of Americans hope to avoid that coughing, aching, sneezing, stuffed-head, feverish, keep- you-up-all-night feeling this flu season, the registered dietitian team at Albertsons, Inc. and Jewel-Osco suggest you try using your fork in the flu fight this year.
"A fork and a flu shot may be your best weapons to ward off the cold and flu," said Albertsons' senior registered dietitian Anita Kobuszewski, MS, RD. "Filling your plate with prevention and taking essential precautions can help ward off those dreaded days of misery."
Kobuszewski says a power-packed diet might be your best defense against common wintertime illnesses. Three key vitamins work to jump-start your immune system. Try keeping a list of each of these key nutrients on the fridge and aim to include one food from each group every day. The three vitamins essential to fighting illness include:
-- Vitamin A -- increases the number of t-cells in your body, which turn
your immune system "on" or "off." This important vitamin can be
found in orange and green produce such as carrots, squash, sweet
potatoes, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots, pink grapefruit, spinach,
broccoli and dark leafy vegetables.
-- Vitamin C -- works to increase the number of white cells and
antibodies in your bloodstream, both of which work to get rid of any
foreign viruses or bacteria that enter your body. Foods rich in
vitamin C include tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes and peppers, as well
as citrus fruits and juices.
-- Vitamin E -- helps the body make enough antibodies to aid in fighting
and attacking foreign substances. Vitamin E is found frequently in
nuts, seeds and oils, such as sunflower seeds, almonds, wheat germ,
vegetable oils and peanut butter.
Minerals such as zinc (beef, eggs, whole-wheat), selenium (chicken, tuna, whole-wheat bread) and iron (beef, leafy greens, fortified cereal), may also help keep colds at bay. Similar to vitamins, each mineral plays a specific role in helping boost your immune system. Zinc's job is to increase the production of white blood cells and antibodies. Selenium activates cancer- fighting cells and iron helps protect our bodies from infection.
"Before you finalize your grocery list, there is one last flu-fighter you may want to add -- yogurt," said Kobuszewski. "Yogurt that contains 'live and active cultures' may help strengthen your body's resistance to infection. Acidophilus and buttermilk are also good options for live and active cultures."
The cultures, which are added to milk to make yogurt, actually live in our stomach and help form a protective barrier against toxins, yeast mold, fungi, parasites and other unfriendly bacteria. In a sense, these healthy cultures help to gobble up bad "bugs" in our digestive system. Be sure to look on the yogurt package for the statement "contains live and active cultures" rather than "may contain live and active cultures."
In addition to eating healthy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend flu shots to ensure protection from the sometimes life-threatening illness. As in past years, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Osco Drug, Sav-on Drug, Albertsons-Osco and Albertsons-Sav-on are offering more than 4,300 flu clinics providing low-cost flu and pneumonia immunizations, making the Company one of the largest immunization providers this flu season. Store locations and flu shot schedules are available by calling 888-783-0458 or by visiting www.savon.com .
Albertsons currently offers its corporate dietitian program in its California, Idaho, Oregon and Florida Albertsons stores and its Midwest Division Jewel-Osco stores. Dietitians are available to the public to answer questions about smart eating. For more information or recipe ideas, visit Albertsons' corporate website, www.albertsons.com , and click on Healthy Eating. You can also log on to www.jewelosco.com and click on the "Nutrition In Focus" link for more information.