How To Strengthen Your Immune System Through Diet
Unless you’re a big fan of cold sweats, chicken soup, and counting the number of tissues you use every hour, getting sick stinks. Fortunately your body has a natural defense mechanism that diligently works to prevent the nasty bugs and bacteria we pick up on a daily basis from running our noses and ruining our day.
Your immune system works like a shield that surrounds the body to keep germs away. The stronger your shield, the better your chances of staying healthy and germ free. While a number of activities can weaken your immune system, such as smoking and getting too little sleep, few things have as great an impact on the health of your immune system than your diet.
Studies have shown that diets rich in bleached flour, sugar, and salt can weaken your body’s immune system and leave you susceptible to infectious organisms. Fortunately by making a few smart decisions about the foods you eat, you can also strengthen your immune system through your diet. Here are a number of foods that studies have shown improve the health of your immune system.
A part of folk remedies for hundreds of years, the extract from elderberries have been shown to block flu virus in test tube studies. However, researchers are quick to point out that more study is needed on the affects of elderberry before you start swearing off yearly flu vaccines. Elderberries do contain a high number of antioxidants and may also have the ability to fight inflammation, so adding a few to your diet certainly can’t hurt.
When it comes to healthy foods, mushrooms don’t always get the credit they deserve. Even though popular perceptions view mushrooms as nutrient poor, this particular fungus contains the mineral selenium and a number of antioxidants. While studies have link small doses of selenium to an increased risk of developing a more severe case of the flu, mushrooms also contain riboflavin and niacin, which both play an important role in developing a strong immune system. Studies have also shown mushrooms to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-tumor effects in animals.
One of the most hyped types of “superfoods,” acai berries contain high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanins. Even though acai berries have not been directly linked to helping prevent any specific disease, the fruit’s natural antioxidants could help your body fight disease and the aging process.
A delicious summer treat, not only does eating watermelon help refresh and rehydrate the body, the fruit also contains plenty of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. Studies have shown that glutathione strengthens the immune system’s ability to fight off infection. The red, pulpy flesh nearest the fruits rind has the most concentrated amounts of the antioxidant.
Easy to find during the winter months and relatively inexpensive, cabbage is a great source of glutamine, an antioxidant that helps to strengthen the immune system. Any variety of cabbage will do, so try getting creative with the different ways you add red, white, or Chinese cabbage to your meals.
Stress ranks as another frequent contributor to a weakened immune system. A fantastic multipurpose food, almonds can strengthen your immune system, while also helping your body bounce back from the effects of stress. A quarter cup of almonds a day contains approximately 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin E, which boosts your immune system. Almonds also contain plenty of niacin and riboflavin, types of B vitamins studies suggest reduce the effects of stress on the body.
Popeye’s vegetable of choice may not give you super strength, but this superfood does contain plenty of nutrients, including folate, which helps the body produce new cells and repair DNA. Spinach also contains lots of fiber, and a number of antioxidants. To get the most nutrients from spinach, make sure to eat it raw or lightly cooked. As a rule, cooking vegetables breaks down the cellular structure, causing it to lose many of the nutrients it contained.
Timothy Lemke blog about healthy eating habits for Dr. Timothy Harbolt, a dentist in Salem Oregon at Smiles Dental.