TAMPA - Kate Lazar is a registered dietitian at St. Joseph's Hospital North. She encourages people to get the flu shot, but wants to remind folks they can help protect themselves against illness and boost their immunity through nutrition.
The first of five immune boosting nutrients is protein - why? It's an important part of the body's defense mechanism. Lazar says, "So make sure you get enough lean meat, fish, even eggs or tofu any kind of protein source is going to be good for you."
Next on the list: Vitamin A. It helps regulate the immune system and protects you from infections by keeping skin and tissues healthy.
You can get vitamin A from sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, red bell peppers.
Next is vitamin C. "You do need vitamin C for every day health. The controversy comes in when you mega dose, when you start taking things with extra vitamin c in them. So that can be where the confusion is. If you just focus on eating a healthy diet including foods rich in C like citrus fruits, strawberries and tomatoes you should be fine."
Vitamin E is number four. It's an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. You can find those in nuts and seeds and in spinach.
Zinc also helps boost your immunity. You can take the supplement but you'll also get zinc by eating meats, seeds, milk and even black eyed peas.
Another big immune booster is probiotics. They regulate your digestive system. A lot of your immune system is actually located in your digestive system.
To locate a dietitian near you go to www.eatright.org