Recently, a case of Swine Flu was reported at the University of Central Arkansas. While it has turned out that Swine Flu hasn’t been as bad as first feared, it is still the flu. It still makes you feel horrible and contagious. Some people may be at higher risk than others for the disease to cause serious health issues or even death. 

Avoiding the flu be it Swine Flu or other variants isn’t easy. None of us wash our hands as much as we need to and everything we touch in our daily lives has a potential to carry very harmful germs. 

Most of the time our bodies do really well defending against these germs, we have built in protection but sometimes that protection gets weak from the daily bombardment of various germs and bacteria. Another thing that can weaken our immune systems is our diet. 

I know I don’t often eat six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I try but sometimes when life is hectic a burger and fries might be the only meal I even eat in a single day. This is horrible and I’m putting myself at risk for catching any number of nasty germs, Swine Flu among them. 

What foods should I be eating instead of that lone burger and fries? 

First of all, we all know foods rich in Vitamin C keep colds and other illnesses away. It takes eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day to give our bodies all the Vitamin C it needs to protect itself. If you simply can’t eat that many try drinking 100 percent natural fruit juices, vegetable juice like V-8 or eating dried fruit snacks during the day to help get those extra servings in.

Another immune booster is Vitamin E. It is a little easier squeeze in the recommended 30 to 60 milligrams each day of this vitamin. Seeds, vegetable oils and grains contain Vitamin E but that is a lot of seeds and grains to consume. Supplements may be the way to go on Vitamin E. 

Beta carotene increases the number of infection-fighting cells and fights cancer. The

body converts beta carotene to vitamin A. Beta carotene is found predominantly in orange, red and yellow vegetables and fruits. 

Zinc.  This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells

that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. Zinc supplements have been shown in studies to slow the growth of cancer. Beef, dark meat turkey, beans, oysters and zinc-fortified cereals are great ways to get this immune system booster.

Besides keeping vampires at bay, the use of fresh garlic in your food stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells and increases the efficiency of antibody production. Cook with garlic as often as you can to help give your immune system an added boost. 

Omega-3 fatty acids. These were all the rage a few years ago, everything you heard on television or read in magazines talked about how good Omega-3 was. Studies since have found that children taking a half teaspoon of flax seed oil a day experienced fewer and less severe respiratory infections and fewer days of being absent from school. 

The omega 3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of white blood cells that eat up bacteria. Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. 

I know you can’t always eat perfectly proportioned meals with each of the four food groups at every meal every day. I’ve tried and failed miserably because it just isn’t feasible on a busy schedule but using these tips might help boost your immune system enough to avoid a cold this fall or the dreaded Swine Flu. 

Instead of trying to force yourself and your family into a strict regime of always eating right every time, just try to offer other healthier options in the house.

Here are some ideas: 

Trail mix and dried fruits for snacks, if the kids absolutely have to have chocolate throw in a few chocolate chips or chocolate candies. Chocolate isn’t bad for you really, just the sugar used to sweeten it can pack on added calories. 

Canned tuna or salmon - make tuna or salmon patties for dinner one night.

Organic applesauce without additional sweeteners. 

Vegetable juice like V-8

100 percent fruit juice, if orange juice is a little too acidic for your stomach like mine, try grape juice, apple juice or other varieties. As long as they are 100 percent fruit juice you should be all right. Organic would be best but it isn’t absolutely necessary. 

Milk made with Ovaltine if the kids just have to have chocolate milk. Ovaltine has vitamins and minerals you won’t find in chocolate syrup or other dry powders. Milk not only has calcium but other vitamins and with the addition of Ovaltine even more nutritious. I drank this stuff like mad when I was pregnant because it was good for myself and the baby and I have never been a fan of just plain white milk. 

Try whole grain breads for sack lunch sandwiches. If your kids don’t like "brown" breads there are alternative varieties available. I believe Wonder makes a kid friendly bread with the same vitamins and minerals available in whole wheat. 

If we can all try to replace a soda with fruit juice once or twice a day, a cup of coffee with a glass of milk and a piece of dark chocolate or have a salad instead of a sandwich a couple days a week our immune systems might help protect us this cold and flu season. 

All of the tips above, I am using myself now since my last bout with illness and I feel a lot better each day. Maybe you will too.