Officials with the Center for Disease Control are now saying the swine flu outbreak is not as severe as once feared. The same officials warn that the 2009/2010 winter season could see the virus rebound.
A report published in February by the National Academy of Science confirmed what long has been believed – the flu virus thrives in dry, cold air. In other words, the more absolute moisture in the air, the less able a virus is to survive.
So as the coming summer months bring warm air, it's important not to grow complacent. Nutrition plays an important role in preventing infection and gives your body more immune system response if you do become sick.
Mary Kay Diloreto, a registered dietitian for Multnomah County's Women, Infants and Children program, says a steady diet high in plant-based foods and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps prepare your body to fight disease.
"When you eat a lot of whole grains and variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, that kind of diet really enhances the general functioning of the immune system at different levels," she said.
Diloreto works directly with families and focuses on preventing disease and health problems through nutrition education.
"Anecdotally, you really do see differences in families that have very health promoting diets," she said. "But it is shown in research. There is a reduced immune function when a diet is too high fat. There is the perception of health, too, as people feel better when they're eating a more healthy diet. There's that sense of well-being that people express."
According to the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, even a deficiency of a single nutrient can result in altered immune responses. These nutrients include zine, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C, E and B-6 and folic acid.
Some Important Tips:
• Keep fruit out where you can see it – on the counter, in a basket. That way, you're more likely to eat it.
• Substitute yams or sweet potatoes for regular potatoes. They're not as sweet as you think and provide plenty of Vitamin A for healthy skin.
• Eat plenty of vegetables that are rich in color – dark, leafy green veggies, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, beets, etc.
• Eat more whole grains that are high in fiber— substitute brown rice for white rice, and whole grain bread for white bread.
• Make your meal's center piece a vegetable-based dish instead of a meat-based dish
To help you prepare more please consult our disaster preparedness page