01 Jun Foods For The Immune System
October 22, 2012
“Foods For The Immune System”
As food can cure some diseases and disorders, it can also help prevent them and help decrease symptoms of an existing disease or disorder. Our immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against foreign invaders. Foreign invaders include fungi, parasites, bacteria, and viruses. When the immune system is not working properly (which could be from a number of reasons), we can get allergies, diabetes, arthritis, and auto-immune diseases and disorders.
Certain foods can boost the immune system, especially when sick with a common cold or flu. Certain foods can alleviate symptoms of diseases and disorders. For example, if you have arthritis, you should avoid acidic foods. Acidic foods include alcohol, soda, citrus fruits, citrus juices, tomatoes, escarole, sauerkraut, some beans, some oils, ketchup, mustard, coffee, caffeine, and a lot of other foods (will discuss more on acidic foods in my December article).
Foods that boost the immune system are those that contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules in vitamins and minerals (and some other nutrients) that protect cells and repair cells from the damage that free radicals can cause. Free radicals are molecules that are impaired, which cause damage to cells and tissues. They can be responsible for cancer, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and arthritis. Free radicals can interfere with the immune system, so eating foods with antioxidants can help keep it strong. The following are sources of antioxidants:
1. Vitamin A (beta-carotene): apricots, asparagus, broccoli cantaloupe, beets, carrots, corn, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, green peppers, kale, mangoes, peaches, pumpkin, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, tangerines, watermelon, and tomatoes
2. Vitamin C: broccoli, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, nectarines, mangoes, papaya, oranges, peppers (red, green, and yellow), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and snow peas
3. Vitamin E: Broccoli, chard, mangoes, nuts, papaya, carrots, mustard green, turnip greens, red peppers, pumpkin, spinach, and sunflower seeds
The following foods have a mix of antioxidants and are loaded with them:
– Beans, prunes, apples, raisin, all types of berries, red grapes, onions, eggplant, plums, and alfalfa sprouts
The following are minerals that may help boost the immune system as well:
1. Selenium: Brazilian nuts, tuna fish, chicken, turkey, beef, grains, and fortified bread
2. Zinc: Oysters, red meat, nuts, seafood, red meat, chicken, turkey, grains, dairy products, and fortified cereals
Foods that may help with flu-like symptoms are:
1. Chicken broth: is known to keep acid balanced in the stomach, and replenishes dehydrated cells.
2. Ginger tea: helps upset stomachs too, and it might help break up a cough.
3. Hot spice tea: can help break up sinuses.
4. Hot lemon tea: soothes a sore throat, and contains some vitamin C. Keep in mind that vitamin C helps prevent colds and flu, but doesn’t not cure it. But being that vitamin C is not stored in the body, it is always good to keep consuming it especially when sick.
5. Elderberry: is known to help soothe the respiratory tract, and reduce muscle pain experienced during the flu.
6. Gatorade: contains potassium (an electrolyte) that can replenish cells during dehydration periods from vomiting or diarrhea.
7. Flavenoids: are responsible for the colors of fruits and flowers, helps boost the immune system. Flavenoids are found mostly in the skin of fruit, especially in the white part of the skin of citrus fruits.
8. Antioxidants: help boost the immune system too. Antioxidants are vitamins A, C, and E and are found in fruits and vegetables….especially green-leafy vegetables and orange-colored fruits and vegetables.
9. Glutathione: helps fight infections and boosts the immune system. You can find glutathione in the red pulpy area of a watermelon, kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cabbage.
10. Yogurt: has active cultures that may fight off bad bacteria
11. Garlic: for upset stomachs that contain a lot of acid. It might have the reverse affect if your upset stomach is NOT from acid.
Overall, eating a healthy and balanced diet of protein, good carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and antioxidants will help maintain a healthy immune system, strong bones, strong muscles, healthy cells, healthy heart, and keep energy levels up. Eat well!