As the cold and flu season is drawing close again, now is the time for doing all that you can to protect yourself properly. And one of the best places to start is by properly feeding your immune system so you can boost it’s power to fight off those unwanted pesky ‘bugs’ that can drag you down. This season, more than ever, with the H1N1 Virus (aka Swine Flu) promising to wreck havoc on large numbers of the world’s population, you need to give your body the best possible opportunity along with the recommended flu vaccines to be strong enough to fight off the effects of colds and flu that will be present all around you in your everyday life.
Read on as the top immune boosting foods and nutrients will be revealed to you to incorporate into your diet to help keep you healthy.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is a water-soluable vitamin which is essential for normal functioning of the body. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that protects against infection and enhances immunity. Vitamin C works by increasing the production of white blood cells, which fight off infection. It also works by increasing the production of antibodies and in particular, raises levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses.
Vitamin C sources include citrus fruits (oranges-grapefruits), broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers (red-yellow-orange-green), strawberries, kiwi, papaya, mango and pineapple.
Vitamin E is important to a healthy immune system. One function of vitamin E is that it enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. In fact, research shows that people who eat foods that are rich in vitamin E tend to have a higher immunity.
Vitamin E rich foods are seeds, vegetable oils and grains.
Beta Carotene enhances the functioning of your immune system. Beta Carotene works by increasing the number of infection fighting cells, natural killer cells and helper T cells. To enhance the availability of the beta-carotene in these foods, they should be eaten raw or lightly steamed. Getting the recommended 5-10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables will provide you with about 3-6 milligrams of beta-carotene.
Foods rich in beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro and fresh thyme.
Zinc helps to prevent a weakened immune system. Studies have shown that a zinc deficiency can impair a number of white blood cells and platelets (blood cells involved in clotting), and can increase susceptibility to infection. Excessive zinc intake, however, may impair immunity and increase infections.
Get an adequate amount of zinc in your diet by eating zinc rich foods such as oysters, liver, lean beef, pork, turkey, lamb, lentils, pumpkin and sesame seeds, garbanzo beans and yogurt.
Garlic is known for its cold-fighting abilities. It increases the potency of two important cells of the immune system: T-lymphocytes and macrophages. The immune-boosting properties of garlic appear to be due to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfides.
You can eat it raw or cooked – so start adding it to your favorite foods today!
The all important omega-3 fats are essential immune boosters, as they work by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. These fats also help strengthen cell membranes, thereby speeding up healing and strengthening resistance to infection in the body. To boost omega-3 in your diet, try adding ground flax-seed to yogurt, baked goods, cereals or smoothies or use unrefined, cold-pressed flax seed oil as a salad dressing.
Omega-3 fats can be found in foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), flax oil and flax-seeds, omega-3 eggs, nuts and seeds.
Immune Drainers ~~~
Some foods or unhealthy lifestyle behaviors can make a person more susceptible to colds and flus. Avoid high-fat, high-sugar junk foods, as they can decrease the activity of the immune system. It’s also best to avoid too much caffeine (soda, coffee, tea, chocolate) as caffeine can undermine your body’s immune system and act as a diuretic, which will deplete your body of water. Also — DON’T SMOKE! – Smoking can impair your resistance as well as injure the respiratory tract, which makes you more susceptible to the flu.
As a reminder…..
Fatty and oily foods can interfere with immunity. It affects the white blood cells directly and reduces the immune strength.
Limit your intake of high proteins, high fat diet, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sweet foods to avoid weakening your immune system.