Our lives have become more stressful, we get very little physical activity on a daily basis and our eating habits have deteriorated. Is it a surprise then that more and more of us frequently complain of health problems right from frequent coughs and colds to diabetes and heart disease? Thankfully, there are a variety of foods that are packed with ingredients that can boost your immune system.
Guavas, Oranges and Lemons
Guavas, oranges and lemons contain vitamin C which plays an important role as a natural antioxidant in our body. Vitamin C also helps the white blood cells perform their function of responding quickly to infections and thus, has an immunity-enhancing action. Guavas also contain a lot of fiber which has a protective role against high cholesterol and heart disease.
Carrots, Red Pumpkins and Papayas
All orange, yellow and red coloured fruits and vegetables are rich sources of beta carotene that is known to have immune-protective action. By acting on different components of the immune system, beta carotene helps the body fend off infection quite effectively. So make sure you include a lot of papaya, carrots and red pumpkins in your diet to keep your immune system running smoothly.
Along with its action against bacterial and viral infections and anti-inflammatory activity, garlic has been known for its protective action against heart disease and high levels of blood cholesterol. In recent times, studies have been increasingly finding garlic plays a role in preventing cancers of different organs. Include a little crushed garlic in your cooking every day and the allicin it contains will keep your immune system up and running in perfect condition.
Flaxseed contains alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acid and phytoestrogens called lignans – all these ingredients are important in modulating the response of the immune system. By acting on the components that mediate the immune response, these compounds can help keep infections and autoimmune diseases away.
Turmeric contains vitamin B6 and a lot of minerals such as potassium, manganese and iron that play an important role in the functioning of different body systems. Besides, it also contains curcumin which has valuable antioxidant action and this enhances the functioning of the immune system.
You may have heard of yogurt as being good for digestion because it contains probiotics. Several studies have found that it can also improve immune function and protect the body against common bacterial and viral infections. This action is believed to be a result of yogurt’s ability to stimulate the production of interferon – a component that boosts the immune system’s functioning. Some studies have also found that consuming yogurt daily can reduce your chances of developing vaginal yeast infections.
A lack of vitamin E can affect the immune system’s ability to fight infections. Chew on a handful of almonds which are rich in vitamin E; this will keep your immune system running in smooth order.
Crab, Oyster and Red Meat
Zinc is one of the minerals that is essential for the body to function at optimal levels. It helps the white blood cells perform their protective action against infections; it also plays an important role as a catalyst in the reactions of the immune system in destroying foreign organisms. Make sure you get enough zinc by including crab, oyster and red meat in your diet. Vegetarians especially are at risk of zinc deficiency; however, foods such as whole grains, beans and fortified cereals do contain zinc, so make sure you include these in your diet.
Green Leafy Vegetables
If you have always eaten green leafy vegetables out of compulsion, here is some news to make you love them. These leaf veggies are a rich source of folic acid which has an important role in the working of the immune system.Studies have found that people with deficiency of folic acid are unable to secrete necessary quantities of antibodies that have infection-fighting properties. Especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure you get more of folic acid to supplement your body’s increased requirement during these times.
Green tea is a potent source of antioxidants called the polyphenols – especially catechins. Some studies have found that these have the ability to destroy the influenza – or common cold – virus. However, when you have green tea, it is important you leave the milk out because the proteins in milk will bind with the catechins, causing it to lose its antioxidant properties. Adding a little lemon or honey will not have such effects and can even improve palatability.
While all these foods will help to boost immunity, it is also vital to avoid those foods that diminish the immune system’s ability to deal with infection. Substances that irritate the inner lining of the stomach – alcohol and some drugs such as ibuprofen for example – can have the effect of reducing immune system responses and therefore, should be avoided. Several pesticides that are used in growing food contain metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium; if these find a way into your food, they can have a harmful effect on your immunity – yet another reason to switch to organically grown foods.
So, what are you waiting for? Stock your kitchen with the foods mentioned here to cut your odds of suffering from health problems that interfere with the quality of your life.
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