As odd as it may sound, research points to fiber for flu prevention: An animal study in the journal Immunity revealed that inulin, a type of soluble fiber, cuts the risk of influenza infection by 59%. The study is relevant to humans too, so I’m recommending increased fiber intake to all my patients this season.
Here’s how it works: Inulin-rich foods—like asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions, jícama and sunchokes— nourish the good bacteria in the gut, increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids. These beneficial compounds reduce immunity-sapping inflammation and activate virus-fighting T cells, boosting the immune system enough to help the body fend off illness. To get the benefits, I suggest eating two 1-cup servings of inulinrich foods a day—but spread the servings out to avoid bloat or gas.