Foods to Power Up your Immune System

Winter weather often seems to be accompanied by colds and flu, and we look for ways to keep from getting sick.  If you want to improve your chances of staying healthy, one of the best ways is to build up your immunity with the foods you eat.

Garlic – it contains a compound called allicin that has antibacterial properties.  Some of this is reduced when the garlic is cooked, but if you lit it sit for at least 10 minutes after crushing it, the heat has less of a negative effect.  Garlic is also antiviral and antimicrobial, and also serves as a prebiotic helping to balance your gut flora.

Foods high in vitamin C – There are cells within your immune system that need vitamin C to perform their functions and if you are deficient in it your resistance is reduced, but it’s increased if you have an abundance of vitamin C.  There are also studies that show that vitamin C can preven and treat infections in the body.  The following foods are good sources of this vitamin:

  • Citrus fruits – Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangerines.  Eat the whole fruit if you can instead of drinking juice.
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Berries
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Broccoli

Onions – they contain anthocyanin an quercetin, both of which support immunity.  Quercetin also has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.

Green tea – High in antioxidants called polyphenols, which protect your cells and tissues and support your immune system.  Green tea is high in a type of polyphenol called catechins which have a wide range of proven health benefits including helping the body fight viruses and gastrointestinal infections.

Prebiotics and Probiotics – 70% of the cells that make up your immune system are in your gut, so having a healthy gut plays a huge role in your overall health.  Probiotics are the good bacteria in your gut and can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, yogurt, kefir and kombucha.  Prebiotics feed the probiotics and good sources of these are jicama, chicory root, garlic, onions, leeks, leafy greens and kiwi with the peel.

Supplements 

  • Vitamin D – your skin makes vitamin D when yo uare in direct sunlight, but many of us don’t get enough time in the sun, especially in winter.  Take a daily supplement of 2,000 to 4,000 IU.
  • Zinc – Foods rich in Zinc include wheat germ, beans, legumes, nutritional yeast, oats, nuts, seeds and oysters.  Taking Zinc supplements of 11 – 13mg per day, especially during cold and flu season, can be helpfull.  Be sure to ake them with food, since some people experience nausea after taking them on an empty stomach.
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