Support your immune system’s fighting power – feed it! Immune boosters work in many ways. They increase the number of white cells in the immune system army, train them to fight better, and help them form an overall better battle plan. Boosters also help get rid of the substances that drag the body down.
8 nutrients that boost immunity:
1. Vitamin C: Increases the amount of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, raises the body’s good cholesterol, and lowers the risk of certain types of cancer. Approximately 200 milligrams a day works well and can be obtained by eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The fruits containing the highest amounts of Vitamin C are guava, papaya, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, orange, & grapefruit. Vitamin C supplements are also an option.
2. Vitamin E: Stimulates the production of cells that destroy germ cells and enhances the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. A diet rich in seeds, greens, squash, vegetable oils and grains will supply recommended amounts of 100-400 milligrams per day. A more active lifestyle doesn’t require as much.
3. Carotenoids: Beta carotene is the most familiar carotenoid and increases the number of infection-fighting cells, and is a powerful antioxidant that helps in the aging process. These can also lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Foods high in carotenoids are carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, and tomatoes.
4. Bioflavonoids: This group of phytonutrients aids the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against environmental pollutants and reduces the cholesterol’s ability to cause clots in the arteries. A diet that contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at least six servings per day is all you need. Foods with bioflavonoids include: berries, cherries, grapes, fruit skins, and true fruit juices, true teas (not herbal teas), grains, celery, parsley, grapefruit, oranges, apple skin, onions, endive, radishes, tomatoes, leeks, broccoli, and red wine.
5. Zinc: This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively as well as fighting cancer. Since too much zinc in the form of supplements (more than 75 milligrams a day) can inhibit immune function, it is safest to stick to getting zinc from your diet and aim for 15 to 25 milligrams a day. Foods rich in zinc are oysters, crab, beef, turkey (dark meat) and beans.
6. Garlic: This flavorful member of the onion family stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells. Recipes with garlic can be easily found in most cookbooks.
7. Selenium: This mineral increases natural killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells. Best food sources of selenium are tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts, and lamb chops.
8. Omega fatty acids: Found primarily in algal, flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) increase the activity of the cells that eat up bacteria. Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. I recommend plant based Omega fatty acids, as they are much more sustainable than fish, and offer the complete Omega spectrum.
Bonus Tip: Hot foods for colds – Hot foods such as chili peppers, hot mustard, radishes, pepper, onions, and garlic contain substances called “mucolytics’ (similar to over-the-counter expectorant cough syrups) that liquefy thick mucus that accumulates in the sinuses and breathing passages.