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Flu-fighting foods

The winter season brings much to look forward to: holidays, time with family, snow. What’s not nearly as fun? Getting sick. Scientists have found that when someone is sick within your same vicinity (home or office for example), it takes only 4 hours for surfaces like the refrigerator door, toilet handle, door handles, TV remote, copy machine, etc. to show traces of the infectious virus.

Some scientists also claim that what we eat may influence how well our immune systems are able to fight off the common cold and flu. Check out the list of nutrient-rich flu-fighters listed below to help ward off sickness this season. Remember to consult with your doctor and/or dietitian about what foods and portions are best for you at your stage.

Broccoli is packed with vitamins A and C, which are known to help support white blood cells and your immune system. It could leave them attacking cold and flu viruses as vigorously as when you were a kid, UCLA research shows. Try for two cups a week to reap the possible benefits of this super veggie!

Hot Tea
Black and green tea are loaded with antioxidants, which can help fight off infections. Drinking tea and breathing in the steam stimulates the cilia—the hair follicles in the nose—to move out germs more efficiently. Try adding lemon and honey for further benefits—lemon thins mucus and honey is antibacterial. Green tea is the lower-potassium option of the two. Drinking hot water with honey and lemon as a potassium-free alternative will still help with pesky congestion.

Seafood is packed with selenium and zinc — immunity-boosting nutrients often missing in today’s hurried diets. Some seafood like salmon and tuna is also packed with Omega 3’s, which are beneficial for heart health and supporting healthy blood pressure in PKD patients.

Pink grapefruit
Pink grapefruit contains double the antioxidants of the paler yellow grapefruit. Only half of a large grapefruit contains 231 mg or 6 Meq of potassium. It is considered a low-potassium food item, as long as you are watching portion sizes. Grapefruit is also a source of high vitamin C content, which can help fight the common cold.

This herb is packed with 70 sulfur compounds that fire up infection-fighting antibodies within 48 hours. One clove daily can do the trick. For best results, let chopped garlic sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes before cooking—the air converts the garlic’s sulfur compounds into their most active flu-fighting form—and then add it to your favorite savory dish or seasonings!

Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicines. It is loaded with antioxidants and just 1/4 teaspoon daily may strengthen immunity. Turmeric has a peppery warm and bitter flavor. With a mild fragrance, it is slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. This spice can add a golden hue and mildly spicy flavor to any dish.

Greek yogurt
Your digestive tract produces 70 percent of your immune cells, making it a key line of defense against the flu. Greek yogurt contains the healing bacteria your digestive tract needs to function at its peak, but none of the immunity-weakening sugars found in regular yogurts. To cut your infection risk and support your immune system, enjoy one cup of Greek yogurt daily, or as your dietary restrictions allow. Yogurt will be a significant source of phosphorus. Monitor your intake and take your phosphate binders as prescribed by your physician or nephrologist.

From all of us at the PKD Foundation to all of you, we wish you a happy and flu-free winter season!


  1. Frank Meeder says:

    Prior to having a bilateral nephrectomy and receiving a live donor’s left kidney I loved grapefruit. I noticed in article highlighting Flu Fighting Foods that grapefruit was mentioned for it’s medicinal benefits. Unfortunately grapefruit is harmful to a kidney recipient who takes the immune suppressant drug tacrolimus to sustain the donated kidney’s health.

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