At the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine, we know that what you eat can empower your immune system to fight off the season’s colds and flu. This blog is dedicated to giving you a list of some of the great tasting foods that will boost your immune system.
As we said in our previous blog, a rule of thumb is to fill your plate with colorful fruits and veggies. We also want to remind you that most people forget to drink enough water, so start aiming for staying hydrated. (That means 8 to 10 glasses of water a day!)
A List Of Immune Power Boosting Goodies for Winter Menus!
1. Shellfish and Good Things From The Sea!
Do you know the powerful health benefits of Selenium? It is plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams. selenium helps white blood cells produce cytokines, and these are the proteins that help chase 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.
2. Chicken Soup (No, we aren’t kidding!)
It has been discovered that most chicken soup, regardless of brand, helps block the migration of inflammatory white cells. Did you know that most cold symptoms are a response to these white cells’ accumulation in the bronchial tubes?
In the soup is an amino acid called cysteine, which comes from cooking the chicken. It chemically mimics the bronchitis drug, acetylcysteine. Likewise, the salt in the chicken soup has mucous thinning properties. Add garlic and onions, and you have an immune boosting broth.
Probiotics are the “live active cultures” in yogurt, and we know they are “healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.” Some studies have proven that probiotics stimulate the growth of white blood cells.
4. Oats and Barley
Did you know that these grains contain beta-glucan? Beta Glucan is a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities similar to those in Echinacea. It not only boosts immunity, but speeds wound healing, and there is evidence it might help antibiotics work better.
This tasty addition to many dishes is full of allicin, “which fights infection and bacteria.” Some studies “show that garlic lovers who consume six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer.”
6. Sweet Potatoes
Your very first line of defense against the “bad guys” of the flu and cold season is your skin, which needs Vitamin A to stay healthy. “Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin,” explains Prevention Advisor David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, CT.
If you eat foods which contain beta-carotene, your body can transform it into Vitamin A. If you just don’t like the flavor of sweet potatoes, you can enjoy carrots, squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe. Orange is the fashionable color for Fall’s Flu-fighting foods!
Harvard studied tea drinkers who enjoyed five cups a day for 2 weeks. Then blood tests revealed that the tea drinkers “had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink.”
This happened because the tea contains an amino acid, L-theanine, which is present in both black and green tea. Do not worry if you drink caffeine-free, you will still get your L-theanine boost!
Zinc is the immune boost found in beef. A zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. White blood cells must have Zinc. Remember, those are the cells that recognize and destroy invaders like bacteria and viruses. This does not mean you need to eat a 16 ounce steak! Three ounces of lean beef at one meal is plenty.
Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC. has explained why the lowly mushroom helps boost immunity. He states, “Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive.”
Needless to say, if you have an infection, you want your white blood cells to be as ferocious as possible.
Recently, Dr.John LaPuma, who says, “Food is medicine,” did a recent show with Dr. Oz. They featured more immune boosting foods, including Tahini. Tahini is simply a sesame seed paste, similar in style to peanut butter. It includes the powerful proteins as well as Magnesium and Zinc. They also sang the flu-flighting praises of black pepper and leaf oregano. They created soup and desert with the power of pumpkin. Check it out at this address on their online resource.
The Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine hopes you will use this list to help empower your immune system with the food you eat. We know you don’t like the flavor of cold and flu medicine! How much better it is to cultivate wellness and amp up your immune system with a balanced diet of flu-fighting foods –tastier too!