Power Foods that boost your immunity!

05 December, 2014

It takes more than an apple a day to keep viruses at bay. You can ensure your body and immunity run smoothly by getting your seven servings of fruits and veggies and 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, at the very least. The following ingredients can add extra flu-fighting punch to your winter meal plan.

 

Fish

Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines--proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.

Your optimal dose

Two servings a week (unless you're pregnant or planning to be).

 

Oats and Barley

These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than echinacea, reports a Norwegian study. When animals eat this compound, they're less likely to contract influenza, herpes, even anthrax; in humans, it boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better.

Your optimal dose

At least one in your three daily servings of whole grains.

 

Garlic

Garlic contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Other studies suggest that garlic lovers who chow more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer.

Your optimal dose

Two raw cloves a day and add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.

 

Yogurt

Probiotics, or the "live active cultures" found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Although they're available in supplement form, a recent study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7-ounce dose of yogurt was just as effective in boosting immunity as popping pills. In an 80-day Swedish study of 181 factory employees, those who drank a daily supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri--a specific probiotic that appears to stimulate white blood cells--took 33% fewer sick days than those given a placebo. Any yogurt with a Live and Active Cultures seal contains some beneficial bugs, but Stonyfield Farm is the only US brand that contains this specific strain.

Your optimal dose

Two 6-ounce servings a day.

 

Chicken Soup

When University of Nebraska researchers tested 13 brands, they found that all but one (chicken-flavored ramen noodles) blocked the migration of inflammatory white cells--an important finding, because cold symptoms are a response to the cells' accumulation in the bronchial tubes. The amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine, which may explain the results. The soup's salty broth keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. Added spices, such as garlic and onions, can increase soup's immune-boosting power.

Your optimal dose

Have a bowl when feeling crummy.

 

Tea

People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that's responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea--decaf versions have it, too.

Your optimal dose

Several cups daily, all season; to get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags, bob them up and down while you brew.

« previous post   |   next post »