BARTOW, Fla., Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There are many tips on how to avoid cold and flu season: Wash your hands. Get a flu shot. Stop touching your face.
This season, add what's on your plate to the list.
"Maintaining a healthy diet is important to help keep your immune system in top shape," said Gail Rampersaud, a registered dietitian nutritionist at the University of Florida. "The immune system has many moving parts that require a wide variety of nutrients to work effectively. Consuming a diet rich in nutrient-dense food is essential to support the immune system during cold and flu season, and all year long."
For advice on what to eat, Rampersaud suggests turning to the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy as well as a variety of protein, such as seafood, lean meats, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Seem overwhelming? Try to focus on one area at a time, Rampersaud said.
For example, the Dietary Guidelines name vitamin C as an under-consumed nutrient, meaning that many people are not getting enough of this key immune system-supporting nutrient.
A simple fix: Drink a glass of Florida Orange Juice. An 8-ounce serving provides more than 100 percent of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C and also delivers other key nutrients such as potassium, folate and thiamin.
Another area to focus on might be the amount of added sugar you consume, Rampersaud said.
"The Dietary Guidelines recommend cutting back on added sugar, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, where most added sugars reside," Rampersaud said. "Make your beverage choices work harder for you by replacing carbonated added-sugar beverages with ones that will give you a boost in nutrients, such as 100 percent fruit juice or low-fat milk."
For more information on how to stay healthy this cold and flu season, visit FloridaJuice.com.
About the Florida Department of Citrus
The Florida Department of Citrus is an executive agency of Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. Its activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels. The industry employs nearly 62,000 people, provides an annual economic impact of nearly $10.7 billion to the state, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that help support Florida's schools, roads and health care services. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.
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SOURCE Florida Department of Citrus