It takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away! These pretty surprising nutrients will help keep your immune system on guard and add an extra flu-fighting punch to your winter dishes!
Probiotics, or the "live active cultures" found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. About 70% of our body’s immune system response is found in our GI tract and because our gut is on the front lines when it comes to contact with external bacteria, it’s important to keep our gut healthy to keep us healthy overall.
Oats and Barley
These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than echinacea! It boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and is known to help antibiotics work better.
Mushrooms strengthen your immune system because they are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and other minerals.
Like oats and barley, mushrooms contain powerful compounds called beta-glucans, which have been long known for their immune enhancing properties. The beta-glucans in medicinal mushrooms (especially Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake) are notable for their ability to activate/modulate your immune system.
This flavorful member of the onion family is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production. The immune-boosting properties of garlic seem to be due to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfides. Garlic can also act as an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream.
Ginger comes to the aid when we're sick in some powerful ways. Besides soothing a scratchy throat, it has chemicals called sesquiterpenes that target rhinoviruses -- which are the most common family of cold viruses -- as well as substances that help suppress coughing. Ginger is also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative so you -- ll feel more comfortable and be able to rest easier. Add a couple of tablespoons of shredded gingerroot to your tea, or make ginger tea (it comes in tea bags, but you can also simmer fresh sliced ginger to make a potent brew).
Citrus fruits contain hefty doses of powerhouse vitamin C. Studies have found that this antioxidant can reduce cold symptoms by 23 per cent, and all that's needed is just one to eight grams (1,000 to 8,000 milligrams) to do the trick. Besides citrus fruits, other foods that have high amounts of vitamin C include papaya, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and red bell peppers.
Honey has numerous medicinal properties and because it coats your throat it is a natural way to soothe sore throats. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Cashews are so much more than just a delicious snack; they’re also a good source of zinc and when zinc levels are down, your immune system is down. Your body needs zinc to develop and activate T-lypmphocytes, which help the immune system respond to infection and act as a first line of defense in attacking infected cells. Other good sources of zinc include: beef, chicken, fortified cereals, crab, and beans