Western Kansas

If you haven't had a cold or the flu yet this year, there are things you can do to help your chances of keeping it that way.

According to Mary Meek Higgins, Extension nutrition specialist at Kansas State University, "The vitamins and minerals in some foods can be helpful in protecting the body from becoming infected. It doesn't mean that people cannot get the cold or flu if they eat these foods, but it can increase their immunity and help ward off illness."

Vitamins A, C and E can help the body improve its own defenses when taken at the recommended daily dosage. But you don't want to take more than the recommended dosage as some vitamins become toxic if too much is within the body. Meek Higgins mentions eating five or more servings of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables every day will help the immune system stay in top condition.

Vitamin A can be found in milk fortified with vitamin A and dark orange, dark yellow and dark green foods. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruit, asparagus, bananas and berries. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, margarine, whole grain products, nuts and seeds.

Minerals may also help in keeping a person healthy. Meek Higgins indicates Zinc and Iron both help keep the immune system healthy. Iron is found in plenty of meats, spinach, prune juice, lima and kidney beans. Zinc is also found in meat, seafood and liver.

Remember, one key way to keep healthy is to follow the Food Guide Pyramid--it will help you pick the nutrients you need without too many calories, too much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium, says Ethel Schneweis, Ford County Extension Family and Consumer Science Agent.

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