20 foods to boost the immune system.

20 Foods to Boost the Immune System

Latest Nutrition — 23 July 2013

With the fast food generation catching up in every household, it is now next to impossible for one to constantly keep in check what they consume and what not. It takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away.  Even the healthiest of diets may sometimes contain food that is not always good for the body. However, behind every dark cloud there is always a silver lining. If there are foods that hamper the body, there are also the counterparts who make up for it. Here’s a list of 20 foods to boost the immune system.

1 – Cabbage: Cabbage is a great source of glutamine which is an amino acid that is essential for maintaining a healthy gut.  It is further packed with nutrients such as sulforaphane – a chemical that enhances the body’s production of enzymes, which disarms the cell-damaging free radicals and keeps the risks of cancer at bay.

2 – Yogurt: The live active cultures, popularly known as probiotics found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. A study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7-ounce dose of yogurt was as effective in boosting the immune system as popping pills.

3– Mushrooms: Button mushrooms are high in selenium which can combat severe flu symptoms. Mushrooms further increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when one has an infection.

4 – Sweet potatoes: a sweet potato is high in vitamin A which helps build immunity against several serious diseases. Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of the skin.  Sweet potatoes contain almost twice as much fibre as other types of potatoes hence it has a high fibre content which gives them a slow burning quality. This means their caloric energy is used more slowly and efficiently than a low-fibre carbohydrate.

5 – Fish: Shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs and calms contain plenty of selenium what help the white blood cells produce cytokines – proteins that help clear the flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation, increasing the airflow and protecting the lungs from colds and respiratory infections. They are vital immune boosters that help maintain overall fitness and they also provide protection against the damages caused by over-reactions to infections.

6 – Garlic: garlic is a potent immune booster owing to its nutritive, antifungal, and antiseptic properties. Studies indicate that when used raw, garlic provides protection against common colds, coughs, and chest infection. This is because garlic is a high source of vitamins (C, B1, & B6), minerals (phosphorous and iron) and sulfoxide alliin which fights infection and bacteria. Other studies suggest that garlic lovers who chow more than six cloves a week have 30 percent lower rate of colorectal cancer and 50 percent lower rate of stomach cancer.  When applied to the skin, garlic beats topical creams like Tinactin and other antifungal agents in fighting athlete’s foot.

7 – Almonds: Almonds are rich in vitamin E that can ward off the upper-respiratory infections. They are advantageous for boosting energy as well.

8 – Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of Vitamin A &C, fibre and folic acid, which is a good source for dealing with bowel movement issues such as constipation due to its fibre properties. It is very helpful for maintaining healthy eyes and digestive tract.

9 – Carrots: Carrots contain loads of beta carotene which is a powerful phytonutrient that boosts the immune system’s production of infection-fighting natural killer cells and T cells. These cells are healthy and attack and kill off disease-ridden microbes. Carrots also contain falcarinol, a super compound that is a good anti-cancer agent. Scientists at Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture recently found that rats that were fed raw carrots had one-third lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.

10- Blueberries: Blueberries are rich in antioxidants such as Anthocyanin, Vitamin C and E that strengthens the immune system and keeps infections at bay. They are particularly helpful for eye diseases such as age related macular degeneration, which is common in older adults.

11 – Broccoli: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, rich in antioxidants. It is full of glucoraphanin, which helps the body to process the anti-cancerous compound sulforaphane. It is packed with nutrients such as Vitamin C and K, Beta carotene, calcium, potassium and carotenoid, making it an ideal choice for weight loss friendly diets and immunity builder.  A consumption of 100 calories of broccoli will fill the body with 7 grams of protein, 10 grams fibre and a wide range of other extra nutrients.

12 – Olive oil: Olive oil has a rich content of antioxidant and is also an excellent remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. A diet rich in olive oil made products help the arterial blood pressure as well. Olive oil further reduces the risk of heart diseases and also helps in lowering the risks of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

13 – Nuts: They are extremely helpful for cardio functions and are valuable sources for Vitamin C which helps boost the immune system response. They also stimulate the production of natural killer cells thus eliminating the dangerous germ cells and cancer cells in the body. Although the intake of nuts can vary vastly from person to person, high alcohol intake in the body would benefit from higher consumption of these.

14 – Cinnamon: Cinnamon is most beneficial for people who suffer from type-2 diabetes. This is because it helps in controlling the blood sugar levels. It also helps in reducing the triglycerides and thus enhancing the body’s cells ability to metabolize sugar by up to twenty times.

15 – Tea: Black tea and Green tea both have the amino acid L-theanine, present in them abundantly. This amino acid helps to boost the immune system.

Making it a habit to include these healthy foods in your diet will ensure that you have a robust immune system that keeps you active and sprightly through the seasons – in fair weather and rough!

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