Cold and flu season is upon us. Hopefully, you’ve gotten your flu shot and use good hand washing techniques to help stop the spread of germs. But did you know you can also use your diet to boost your immune system and fight off illness? Here are 10 foods that supply the vitamins, nutrients and essential compounds you need to help your immune system do its job.
This leafy green is chock-full of vitamin C and vitamin E. Both these vitamins are powerful antioxidants that help fight off infection.
You probably knew that citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C. Your body doesn’t produce or store this vitamin, so be sure to load up on oranges when you’re under the weather.
Beans and peas are a delicious and nutritious way to make sure you’re getting enough folate. This B vitamin is vital in helping our bodies produce and repair cells and is important for good health.
You’ll find both zinc and heme iron in beef. Zinc is crucial in the development of infection-fighting white blood cells. Beef is also a source of heme iron, which is more easily absorbed by the body than other types of iron. Your iron intake is an important part of overall health, because iron helps carry oxygen throughout your body via red blood cells. Vegetarian? You can also find zinc and heme iron in beets.
Fatty fish like salmon provide a healthy dose of vitamin D. While it’s best to get your vitamins from food, many people have difficulties absorbing vitamin D from food. If you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor.
Selenium is a key component of broccoli and has the potential to slow the body’s overreaction to infection and reduce inflammation.
Oysters, lobster, crabs and clams all contain selenium and zinc. As mentioned above, these two compounds are necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system.
The live cultures found in some yogurts are probiotics that stimulate white blood cell activity and help keep the intestinal tract free from germs that may cause illness.
Mushrooms have been used to boost immune systems for centuries. Modern science has shown that it’s because mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, which are key in fighting off infections. Here in the states, shiitake mushrooms are your best bet for boosting your immune system.
Studies have shown that, thanks to the potent active ingredient allicin, garlic fights infection and bacteria. Eating two raw cloves of garlic a day can help reduce your likelihood of coming down with a cold by up to 33%.
Stay healthy out there! Be sure to watch your diet, cover your mouth when you cough and wash those hands.