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Immune System Got You Down? Immune Boosting Foods to the Rescue

Posted Feb 25 2012 3:22pm

healthy immune system image Your body’s immune system is it’s first line of defense against attackers. This means that a healthy immune system can keep you from getting the flu, colds, cancer and other illnesses. A healthy diet means a healthy immune system. The better you eat the better you can avoid sickness, and fight it off when you do find yourself down with something. It is extra important for people with immune suppressing illnesses, like cancer and lupus, to eat a healthy diet every day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not the only sources of immune boosting nutrients, but they are the best to get your body on the right track to health and wellness.

It is important to eat a healthy diet, and to include nutrient rich foods, all year round. Vitamin C and zinc are not just a winter thing. The human body can get sick from all sorts of things all throughout the year. Healthy eating can help with hay fever, asthma and more.

Free Radicals and Your Immune System

One of the causes of illnesses in the body ate free radicals that make their way into your body and your bloodstream. Free radicals come from air pollution (including smoking), processed foods and other toxins. Free radicals have been linked to some cancers and even Parkinson’s disease. Antioxidants fight free radicals. They neutralize them and render them powerless so they can not cause damage to the body. Though the body has some natural antioxidants, most of our reserve comes from fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants, but it is important to know that fruits and vegetables lose their vitamin C content when they are heated or cooked.

So, what foods are best for boosting the immune system? Here is a list of antioxidant rich and immune boosting vitamins and minerals, and what foods contain them.

Immune Boosting Foods

Vitamin C

Vitamin C enhances the activity of immune system sells, which makes it a very powerful antioxidant. People who smoke should intake extra vitamin C to make up for the supply that is depleted because their habit causes a reduction in vitamin C absorption in the body. You should take at least 200mg of vitamin C a day for a healthy immune system. More than 200mg a day can help to reduce the duration of a cold.

Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits. Green leafy vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, are great sources too.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to prevent damage to cell membranes. Like vitamin C, E is also an antioxidant. The best foods for increased vitamin E intake are sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds.

Selenium

Selenium works with vitamin E to combine into a powerful antioxidant. This mixture can help battle cancer and asthma. Selenium is found in soil, so foods that are grown in selenium rich soil are the best sources. The richest source is Brazil nuts.

Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3s)

By essential fatty acids I mean the healthy ones, omega-3 fatty acids mainly. These healthy oils boost the immune system and have been said to help with the prevention of some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. These fats are not naturally produced by our bodies, so we have to get them from outside sources.

The best fresh sources of omega-3 fatty acids are sardines, salmon, trout and flaxseed. Spinach, olive oil and various nuts and seeds are also good sources.

garlic image Garlic

Garlic is antiviral and also has antibiotic properties. It even has special compounds that are not released until it is cut or crushed, like allicin. Eat up to three cloves a day of garlic to get the most from it’s healing and immune boosting potential.

Probiotics

Probiotics, which are found in live yogurt, are not just for better digestion. These friendly bacteria help make your body more resistant to infection. Yogurt is, in fact, the only natural food source of Probiotics and is especially important for people who take antibiotics. Antibiotics destroy healthy bacteria in the gut which needs to be replenished for healthy digestion.

Zinc

Just 15mg of zinc each day can help boost your recovery time from a cold. Zinc is needed for a strong immune system and is essential for wound healing. For a zinc rich diet you should eat eggs, seafood, lean meats and liver. Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds are also great sources of zinc.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are the pigments in certain plants that give them yellow, orange and red coloring. They are found in both fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants and contain beta-carotene, which is a great source of vitamin A.

Boost your intake of these colorful fruits and vegetables for a healthier immune system- carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow and red bell peppers, tomatoes and even oranges.

Your immune system is important, so treat it that way. Add these various foods to your daily diet and you will definitely see a difference in your day to day health!

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