10 Foods For Optimal Immune Health This Season
With the long, hot days of summer coming to a close, we are on the cusp of cold and flu season. And rather than waiting until the last minute to prep for the seasonal bugs ahead, it’s best to start doing all you can to fire up your immune system as the cold weather approaches ― and we don’t mean heading to your nearest clinic to get a flu shot! In fact, did you know that in past years, the FluMist vaccine was only about 3% effective?
So rather than resort to an ineffective, risky vaccination this season, there are some natural immune boosting tricks to keep your immune system in tip top shape. And one of those ways is as simple as what you eat.
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Foods to Boost Your Immune System
As you may recall, Hippocrates, the brilliant Greek physician who is considered to be the father of modern medicine preached this doctrine to his patients and students: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
And now, over 2000 years later, modern research has shown that these ancient words were never truer. There really is no pharmaceutical drug that can substitute for a healthy diet containing the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that give your immune system the extra boost it needs to maintain good health all season (and all year!) long.
Here’s a look at 10 nutrient-rich “superfoods” that will help support your immune system function at peak performance against invading pathogens and chronic illness.
Allicin, the active compound in garlic that is responsible for its odor is a known antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral ― just what you need when cold and flu season comes creeping in. Along with fighting invading pathogens, garlic lovers have even been shown to have a 30% reduced rate of colorectal cancer.
2. Oats and Barley
The beta glucans found in these grains and fiber-rich foods have a modulating effect on the immune system, helping it to work more efficiently. When it comes to disease-fighting, beta glucans have been shown to stimulate the production of immune cells that seek out and destroy pathogens and tumor cells.
3. Organic Yogurt
Yogurt contains a variety of probiotic strains that replace beneficial bacteria in the gut that destroy harmful ingested microbes and pathogens. Look for a yogurt brand containing Lactobacillus reuteri, which has been shown to stimulate the effectiveness of white blood cells. Or, even better, try adding a probiotic supplement to your daily regimen for optimal immune health.
This sweet refreshing treat contains a generous amount of glutathione, your body’s master detox compound and one of its most important antioxidants. In a recent article, Dr. Mark Hyman called it “the secret to prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and more.” So, even though summer’s ending, make sure glutathione-rich watermelon is on your menu year-round.
This dark green leafy vegetable is just what your body needs to make new cells and repair damaged DNA thanks to spinach’s high concentration of the B vitamin, folate. It’s also an excellent source of fiber and the antioxidant vitamins, A and C.
Whether you prefer herbal, black or green, tea is a valuable source of polyphenols. These plant compounds help protect your cells from free radical damage that can kill brain cells, and lead to premature aging and the onset of degenerative diseases.
One of the secrets of good health is detoxifying your liver so it can continue to neutralize toxins and microbes that are circulating in your system. That’s where kale comes in. This cruciferous vegetable supports your body’s natural detoxification system, and it contains over 45 different flavonoids that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support.
8. Maitake Mushrooms
These delicious Japanese mushrooms make a great addition to soups or salads while stimulating the immune system to produce natural killer cells. These are the cells that fight the development of cancer. Compounds in maitake may also help normalize cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
9. Citrus Fruits
While the vitamin C in citrus fruits is known as a great cold fighter, it is beneficial against bacterial and fungal infections too. And exciting new research has even found that vitamin C may help fight off cancer cells. Plus, consuming citrus fruits every day will also provide the fiber you need for healthy bowel movements.
10. Wheatgrass Juice
If you want a real powerhouse of immune boosting nutrients, detoxifying wheatgrass is loaded with chlorophyll, beta carotene, vitamin C, B complex vitamins, amino acids, calcium, potassium and magnesium is just what the doctor ordered. This nutritionally packed green food not only supports overall immune health, it works with your liver to remove harmful ingested toxins. Wheatgrass can even work wonders for your digestive health.
Wondering what other health-promoting effects certain foods have on your body? Well, apples and oatmeal can help rev-up your metabolism, adding a dash of cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, and almonds can help boost your levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. To learn more, check out our article 6 Foods to Use Instead of Medication.