Prevention is the best medicine for staying healthy and steering clear of colds and flu. Now is the time to boost your immune system and prevent the spread of illness.
Plan your meals to include the following 15 powerful immune system boosters and you may increase your family’s chances of fending off those nasty bugs.
Most people turn to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. But did you know it tops the chart of foods that keep your immune system running at 100%? Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are key to fighting infections.
- Red bell peppers
Think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable? Think again. Red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C, as well as being a rich source of beta-carotene. Vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin and beta-carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Regularly eating fennel, which contains about 20% vitamin C, increases your body’s resistance to infectious diseases. Consumption allows white blood cells, the ones that destroy bacteria and viruses in the body, to work harder, which lessens your chances of catching a cold.
Broccoli is supercharged with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all!
Not only is spinach rich in vitamin C, but it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta-carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting capability of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, it’s best cooked as little as possible so that its nutrients are retained.
- Brussels sprouts
Not only do Brussels sprouts provide tons of nutrients for such a small amount of calories, they also prevent damage to cells in the body. All you need is half a cup to provide you with half the amount of vitamin C that’s recommended per day.
Many yogurts contain probiotics that help the body resist contaminations and aid in quicker recovery from infections. The probiotics found in yogurt are healthy bacteria that also aid in digestion. Since 60% of your immunity lines your gut, keeping your gut healthy is a great line of defence.
When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to the more commonly mentioned vitamin C. But vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts (especially almonds) are packed with vitamin E. A half-cup serving provides nearly 100% of the recommended daily amount.
Protein-rich salmon is a superfood for essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acid, which is necessary for the activation of T-cells. The higher your T-cell count, the better chance you have of staying healthy.
Garlic adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health. Studies have shown that garlic helps to lower cholesterol and may prevent hardening of arteries. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after they’ve caught a cold. But like vitamin C, ginger may also help prevent that cold from taking hold in the first place. While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Capsaicin gives chilli peppers their distinctive heat. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent studies.
A key ingredient in many curries, this bright-yellow, bitter spice has been used for years as an anti-inflammatory remedy in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Green tea
Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really shines is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, preserving EGCG. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
Honey soothes sore throats, and has antimicrobial properties that help fight off infections. Buckwheat and alfalfa honey have higher levels of antioxidants and nutrients (especially if it’s organic), and taking a spoonful every day will power-up your immune system with its numerous live enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Note: don’t give honey to children under two years of age, as they can develop infant botulism from spores that the honey might be contaminated with.
These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fibre with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than echinacea. When animals eat this compound, they’re less likely to contract influenza, herpes, even anthrax; in humans, it boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better.
Sources: www.healthline.com, www.harpersbazaar.com, www.lifehack.org