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P.E.I. dietictian offers tips for fending off the flu this season

Angela Dawson throws together a rainbow fruit salad at her dietician booth in the Summerside Superstore. Dawson is a registered dietician with the company and provides one-on-one consultations and group classes.
Angela Dawson, a registered dietician with Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, says people can get ahead of cold and flu season by stocking up early on foods that contain nutrients that contribute overall to immune health. -File

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The dreaded cold and clue season is on its way, and after last year’s severe season, the public is urged to so what they can to protect themselves from getting sick with the pesky virus.

“There are a number of simple, preventative measures you can take now to help protect yourself and your family from the flu,” said Angela Dawson, a registered dietician based out of the Atlantic Superstore in Summerside.

“It starts with a trip to the grocery store and a healthy diet to help keep your immune system in good working order.”

Dawson says people can get ahead of cold and flu season by stocking up early on foods that contain nutrients that contribute overall to immune health.

“It’s smart to make healthy food choices all year, but you may want to think about certain foods leading up to and during flu season, such as citrus fruits, beans and legumes, probiotics and nuts and seeds to get the nutrients you need,” she said.

She also advised that eating a variety of foods on a regular basis will help people and their families maintain good health.

Nutrients key in immune system health

  • Vitamins C and E: Antioxidants that can be found in citrus fruits along with berries, plums, cherries, blueberries and kiwi. They can also be found in seeds and nuts.
  • Protein and Zinc: An essential part of the body’s defense mechanism as it helps to build and repair body tissues. Zinc is a mineral that helps to reduce some cold symptoms. Both can be found in legumes like lentils and chickpeas as well as pumpkin seeds, seafood, beef and baked beans.
  • Vitamin A: Found in orange vegetables like sweet potato and butternut squash, shown to help maintain immune function.
  • B Vitamins: Maintain good health and found in leafy greens like whole grains and winter squashes.
  • Probiotic foods: Found in kefir and probiotic yogurt, which help control immune function. 

For more information on flu prevention and recovery, Dawson invites the public to stop by the local superstore and chat with in-store dieticians, pharmacists.

She also says not to forget the flu shot.

“The flu shot is the single most important way you can reduce your chance of getting the flu. It’s quick and easy.”

Immunize Canada is also reminding Canadians it is the best way to lower their risk of infection.

“Influenza immunization is a broad-reaching public health measure we have to prevent influenza-associated complications and hospitalization, particularly in adults over 65 and children under the age of two. There is no question that they benefit from influenza immunization, and that can mean dramatically improved outcomes for millions of Canadians,” said Immunize Canada Chair Dr. Shelly McNeil.

Being vaccinated not only protects oneself, but also those who cannot be immunised because they are too young, or their immune systems don’t respond well to vaccines, said Jill Promoli, influenza immunization advocate and mother of Jude who died in May 2016 at the age of two due to influenza B.

“On its own, the influenza vaccine may not be 100 per cent effective, but if everyone gets it, we can greatly reduce the risk of infecting people who are more vulnerable to the virus and its associated complications,” said Promoli.

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