Immune boosters are no longer an option. Research has demonstrated the importance of a strong immune system in the fight against colds and flu. Now that winter is on its way, it’s worth building your body’s natural protection system to tackle these ailments head-on.
It takes more than an apple a day, of course. The first step is to take a course of Flora Force Immune™, a general immune-boosting formula. Your second step will be to follow a healthy, mainly plant-based diet to provide you with a good balance of nutrients and antioxidants. For extra protection, include a daily allowance of the following.
10 Immune boosters to make your healthy diet even more effective
1. Cruciferous vegetables
Cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts are all members of the cruciferous (cabbage) family. They are rich in anti-oxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, which are potent immune boosters, and also contain choline, an essential B-complex vitamin that supports cell function and helps to keep your digestive system healthy.
Cauliflower contains a wealth of glutathione, a powerful anti-oxidant that helps fight off infection. (Cauliflower soup is a winner!) Broccoli is a powerhouse of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying compounds that help prevent chronic inflammation and rid the body of toxins. Kale has rocketed to fame as a superfood for its rich anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory content. It, too, helps rid the body of toxins and is a powerful immune booster. Cruciferous vegetables also contain folate, another immune booster that is crucial to human growth.
2. Sweet potatoes and other orange vegetables
You’ve probably never considered your skin to play a vital role in your immune system, but it’s your body’s first defence against bacteria and viruses. Keep it healthy with beta carotene-rich vegetables – the orange ones such as carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Your body turns beta carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for a healthy skin. (Carrots, incidentally, are also said to lower the risk of colon cancer.) Beta carotene also supports the body’s mucous lining, making it harder for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. About half a cup per day of this immune booster should do it.
Think mushrooms are delicious but not particularly nutritious? Think again! Mushrooms are in fact packed with nutrients, especially zinc, a powerful immune booster. People lacking zinc in their diets seem to have fewer white blood cells (disease-fighting soldier cells), which can lead to a reduced immune response. Some types of mushrooms are thought to be particularly good to fight bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Grill a large portabella mushroom (rich in B vitamins, minerals and fibre) to substitute for the meat patty in a burger. Note that button mushrooms, although they possess some health benefits, do not contain the general health benefits found in Asian mushrooms.
Garlic contains allicin, which is a powerful immune system booster, fighting infection and bacteria. In fact, research in the UK has indicated that people who eat garlic regularly are two-thirds less likely to catch a cold than those who don’t enjoy it. Two raw cloves a day are recommended, but adding chopped or crushed garlic to your meals whenever possible is good too.
5. Oats and barley
Oats and barley contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which has antimicrobial and anti-oxidant capabilities. According to a Norwegian study, beta-glucan may boost the immune system by increasing the production of chemicals that fight infection. Beta-glucan also helps lower cholesterol, makes wounds heal more rapidly and may even help antibiotics work better. One portion a day is all you need.
Cinnamon is more than simply an immune booster – it has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties that actually fight the pathogens that cause illness. Add it to coffee and hot chocolate, sprinkle it on your morning muesli, mix it with oats and coconut to make yummy crunchies and add it to fragrant curries.
The high vitamin C content of grapefruit makes this fruit an essential immune booster. The red and pink varieties are especially good choices because they’re packed with bioflavonoids – phytonutrients that also help the immune system to pack a punch, among other attributes. Dust grapefruit segments with cinnamon for an added immune boost.
Tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which is an immune booster that also helps you to relax. Research has shown that drinking tea can bump up the production of T cells, an important antigen, leaving you more capable of fighting off infection. Green tea and black tea are equally effective. A Harvard study revealed that people who drank five cups a day of black tea for two weeks had 10 times more interferon (a virus-fighting compound) in their blood than those who drank a placebo hot drink. You’ll find L-theanine in both black and green tea. Remember to allow tea to brew for a while before drinking to release more of its immune-booster properties.
A healthy gastrointestinal tract is a vital component of healthy immune system. Germs, bacteria and other nasties must be prevented from entering the bloodstream and making you sick. Yoghurt is packed with vitamins and protein, and is a source of lactobacillus, a beneficial type of bacteria, or probiotic, that helps keep out unwelcome disease-causing germs and acts as an immune booster. You’ll need about 300 ml of plain yoghurt a day.
There’s no doubt about it – fish is good for you. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in immune-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and protect lungs from colds and respiratory infections. Shellfish – oysters, crayfish, etc. – brims with selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines (proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body). Eat fish regularly (although if you are planning to fall pregnant, or are pregnant, it’s best to avoid shellfish).
So, give yourself more than a fighting chance of avoiding ailments this winter by adapting your diet to include these immune boosters and taking a course of Flora Force Immune™.
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
Thanks to Amanda MacMillan and Tamara Schryver for their article on immune-boosting foods at www.organicgardening.com and the similar one by complementary healthcare advocate Jillian McKee’s blog at www.mesothelioma.com, which were used in part as references for this feature.
The information about the benefits of tea as an immune booster was obtained from the article by Stephanie Watson, executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch (http://bit.ly/1tAEKQh)