Trying to beat the flu? Look in your refrigerator

By Taylor Kearns - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Flu season is heating up. State health officials say the last week of December brought an increase in flu cases and hospitalizations.

So besides coughing into your sleeve and washing your hands, what can you do to fight the flu?

At Rosewood Market in Columbia, you'll find a lot of herbal remedies. As flu season heats up, so do the sales -- specifically of the mushroom-based stuff.

"They do really work and help," said Kala Pullen, who puts a lot of weight into the power of mushrooms.

Dieticians say they're just one piece of a good flu-fighting diet. "The best thing is a good variety of vegetables and a good variety of fruits," said Dr. Teresa Moore.

Moore says when it comes to fruits and vegetables, the brighter in color the better. Things like tomatoes, broccoli and oranges are best.

Strawberries are also a good choice -- Moore suggests tossing them into a blender with some milk for a healthy smoothie. "If you use skim milk or even 1/2 percent, that's gonna give you the protein with low fat, and it will make for a good tasty shake," she said.
While a healthy diet is important year-round, Moore says it's critical this time of year. Health officials agree. "The flu is definitely out here in South Carolina," said Jim Beasley of DHEC. "We are seeing some cases, more hospitalizations as well but there's no way to tell just how serious the flu season's going to be."
Serious or not, Moore hopes you'll remember the importance of food when fighting the flu. "The simplest thing is a balanced diet in healthy proportions," said Moore. "It always comes back to the basics."

Along with the diet, health officials say it's not too late to get your flu vaccine. You can find it at most pharmacies, or get it from your doctor.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.