People eat and do things they know aren’t good for their bodies. Unfortunately we don’t know how unhealthy habits can affect our body on the inside. Unhealthy eating, smoking, and drinking habits all weaken the immune system, our body’s defenses against pollutants, pathogens and toxins. A weakened immune system can cause disease. To boost the immune system you need to start by supplying the body with the proper nutrients through a healthy diet. By eating immune boosting foods on a regular basis you can keep your immune system strong to ward off the cold and flu.
- Garlic- Most recognized for its use in the kitchen, garlic is a powerful immune booster and disease fighter. Garlic stimulates the production of infection fighting white blood cells, natural killer cells and antibody. Garlic contains three powerful compounds allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates. It is these sulfur compounds, which make garlic such a strong immune booster. Allicin is an antibacterial and antiviral. This helps the immune system to fight bacterial infection and defeat viruses or fungal infection making you 2/3rds less likely to catch a cold. At the onset of a cold consuming large quantities of garlic will reduce the amount of time it will take to get better. When consumed garlic acts like an antioxidant and removes free radicals in the bloodstream. Garlic is also believed to protect against cancer. It removes carcinogens and other toxins from the body. People who consume at least six cloves a week have lower incidence of intestinal cancer, 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and 50% lower rate of stomach cancer. Garlic is also a great heart healthy food, which reduces plaque build up in arteries and lowers cholesterol. The best way to consume garlic is by eating fresh garlic cloves either alone or combined with other foods. Although garlic should be crushed before use to release the antibacterial compounds from within. Garlic supplements are available if you have an adverse reaction to garlic’s taste.
- Tea- Tea is a soothing drink best consumed daily to boost the bodies immunity and lift ones spirits. Tea soothes a sore throat, inflamed membranes, and the heat and steam from the liquid loosens congestion from the nasal sinuses and prevent dehydration. Tea contains polyphenols a plant antioxidant that reduces free radical damage with in the body. These compounds inhibit viral replication and the spread of a cold or flu throughout the body. Tea also contains catechins a bioflavonoid that reduces the risk for heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Additionally tea contains alkylamines. Alkylamines are also found in bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and other disease causing agents. The difference is that the alkylamines in tea are weak and don’t fully activate an immune response. However the prepare the bodies immune system to recognize and recall them if they ever enter the body again. That way disease fighting immune T cells stay alert to detect and destroy any alkylamines that enter the body. There are all kinds of tea available. Some that are great for immune boosting are green, back, ginger, lemon and honey. Green tea is a natural antioxidant with many health benefits. Ginger tea helps with respiratory infections, relieves nausea, menstrual cramps, and indigestion cramps. Lemons help to flush out toxins and contain vitamin C a valuable antioxidant that boosts the immune system. Honey helps to soothe the throat relieve congestion. Whichever flavor you choose to drink you will help to boost your body’s immunity and stave off the cold and flu.
- Chicken soup- Chicken soup is one of the first foods we turn to at the sign of the cold or flu. Its not just tradition or folklore, chicken soup is healthy and benefits the body by boosting the immune system. Chicken soup contains several ingredients that benefit the body during time of infection. When the body is infected with pathogens the immune system release neutrophils, white blood cells that eat up bacteria and cellular debris. Neutrophils are released in great numbers at the first sign of infection. Neutrophil activity can stimulate the release of mucous causing coughing and stuffy noses during upper respiratory infections and colds. Chicken soup has an inhibitory effect on neutrophil migration, which may have an anti inflammatory effect that could ease symptoms temporarily. These anti-inflammatory properties soothe sore throats; increase movement of mucous, and clear nasal clog. Chicken soup also improves the function of protective cilia in the nasal passages, helping to clear out mucous and keep pathogens from entering the body. So the next time you get the sniffles heat up a hot bowl of chicken soup because it’s loaded with healthy nutrients, it increases hydration and it tastes good. Homemade chicken soup has shown to have a greater ability to boost immunity while also maintaining healthy ingredients. Canned versions can contain additives and preservatives and are normally high in sodium.
- Kefir/Yogurt- Kefir is a fermented milk product with kefir grains, which can also be associated with yogurt. Kefir grains contain beneficial yeasts and bacteria. Kefir and yogurt contain probiotics, live cultures of good bacteria that the body needs to keep the stomach and intestinal tract free of disease causing germs. The body needs certain bacteria to function properly. Without good bacteria the body can’t absorb nutrients and the immune system will shut down. Probiotics stimulate white blood cells. Examples of probiotics include lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis. Lactobacillus acidophilus produces lactic acid to help digest foods and breakdown complex carbohydrates. It fights against disease causing bacteria like salmonella and shigella, helps with various types of diarrhea, intestinal disorders and viral infections. Bifodobacterium lactis boosts the immune system by increasing the production of T cells, helper cells, and killer cells. These cells are a vital part of the immune system and fight off sickly cells, disease and infection in the body. Kefir and yogurt are low in pH, which helps to prevent bad bacteria growth in the body. When choosing kefir or yogurt make sure to opt for live and active probiotics to get eh most benefits.
- Sweet Potatoes- Sweet potatoes are one of many orange-fleshed vegetables high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Both beta-carotene and vitamin A are important for boosting the body’s immune system. Our skin is the body’s first line of defense against bacteria, viruses and pathogens. The skin needs to stay strong and healthy to keep germs out of the body. Vitamin A is a key component of the skin, helping to produce connective tissue, which keeps skin strong. Beta-carotene is a powerful phytonutrient that helps to boost the immune system. It increase the production of natural killer cells and T-cells both of which attack and kill off disease and infected microbials. Other orange-fleshed vegetables include pumpkin, squash and carrots.
- Oysters- Oysters are most widely known as an aphrodisiac, however they are great immune boosters because they contain zinc. Zinc is high on the list of minerals that boosts the immune system. It boosts the preproduction of white blood cells and antibodies, makes them more aggressive, and better to fight off infection. Zinc prevents bacterial and viral growth by poisoning infectious agents and encouraging immune response to the infection site. Zinc is also vital for general cell function stimulating over 100 chemical reactions in the body. Moderate zinc deficiency can depress immune system function and severe deficiency can shut down the immune system completely. Additionally too much zinc can inhibit the immune system.
- Mushrooms- Mushrooms are a powerful immune booster and disease fighter. Mushrooms are antibiotics and antiviral. They increase the production and activity off white blood cells making them more aggressive. Macrophages stop the growth of bacteria, parasites, viral infections and cancer. Mushrooms contain vitamins, minerals, proteins, linoleic acid, and ergosterol, which not only boosts the immunes system but also lowers cholesterol, lowers the risk of arteriosclerosis, diabetes and has anti-inflammatory properties. Mushrooms come in all varieties shiitake, maitake, rashi, crimini and white button, which seems to be the most effective.
Sarah Labdar, “Eat These Foods To Boost Immunity”, Better Health