The weather has changed again and like a magic carpet, it seems to always bring illness with it. So, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid getting sick. Luckily, Nature gave us a multitude of foods that really can boost our immune system and keep us well. Here are 6 of them…
Six of The Best Foods Nature Gave Us To Fight Illness
A strong and healthy immune system is your #1 defense against viral and bacterial illnesses that are so common when the seasons change. People are more apt to get upper respiratory infections (URI) in the fall and winter. But, thankfully, there are several things you can do to strengthen your immune system. They include:
1. Sleeping 6-8 hours a night. Your body repairs itself every night as you sleep.
2. Keeping stress levels down. Stress activates cortisol that can, at too high levels, weaken your immune system.
3. Exercise. Exercise helps burn off damaging stress hormones and helps rid your body of illness-causing toxins.
4. Wash your hands. Washing your hands after touching things in public can really help keep you illness-free.
5. Maintain optimal nutrition. Eating foods and taking supplements, which act as immune system helpers.
The first 3 of these are pretty self-explanatory, but you might be wondering, what kinds of foods help your immune system? Well, that’s what I’d like to tell you about. As nutritionist Dave Grotto tells in his book, there are over 100 common foods that are good immune system boosters – you’re likely eating several of them already, so you’re off to a good start! Here are 6 of the best:
1. Mushrooms. Asian medicine (Chinese and Japanese) have been using different types of mushrooms for several years now in treating many diseases – cancer being one of them. They found that mushrooms contain substances called beta glucan, a type of fiber that activates disease fighting white blood cell action. They also contain selenium, a very powerful antioxidant that can help fight free radical damage to your DNA that makes you more susceptible to disease.
2. Garlic. This food/spice/medicine contains allicin a powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial compounds. For the best protection, eat 2 fresh cloves a day. Remember, though, you have to crush garlic cloves to release their allicin. A good way is to put 2 cloves in a small bowl and crush them open with the end of a spoon. Add it to a vegetable drink you make in a blender, or sprinkle it on your food.
3. Fish. Because of their high Vitamin D content, fish like wild caught salmon, tuna, flounder, make good immune system allies. Salmon has more than twice your daily requirement of Vitamin D, tuna and flounder have about one-third. To stay well, Vitamin D intake daily should be at least 1,000 IU.
4. Yellow Vegetables. Foods in this group like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, etc, contain good amounts of beta carotene which your body needs to ward off upper respiratory infections.
5. Almonds. This simple, easy to eat, food contains good amounts of the antioxidant Vitamin E which boosts your immune system. Sprinkle 1/8 to 1/4 cup on your salads, in your stir fry vegetables, on your high fiber cereal, or just in a handful as a snack.
6. Tea. If you enjoy drinking tea, you’ll like it even more knowing that it’s helping you steer clear of illness this fall and winter. Teas like oolong, black, green, and white contain the powerful anti-inflammatory compound quercetin as well as antioxidant flavonoids and the calming amino acid L-theanine. Studies out of Harvard School of Medicine have shown that drinking 5 cups of tea a day boosted the immune system 4 times higher in 2 weeks. Asian medicine has made use of a variety of teas for their disease-fighting properties for centuries as it contains ECGC a super-antioxidant compound that destroys free radicals.
So there you have 6 simple, foods you can pick up on your next trip to the grocery store. You could even make a great immune booster dinner out of all 6 of them – start with some broiled garlic rubbed salmon, add a side of sautéed mushrooms, carrots and slivered almonds, and follow it with a few cups of stevia sweetened oolong tea. See? It’s not that hard to not only eat deliciously but give yourself a little illness insurance. What you feed your body can keep your immune system working at its prime and keep you out of your doctor’s office, or worse a hospital, this fall and winter.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.