Do you feel like you have a weakened immune system? Our immune systems are constantly under attack from the endless bacteria, toxins and viruses we are exposed to as part of daily life. This amazing system must remain hyper-vigilant at all times and be ready to strike at the first sign of an invading bacteria or virus.
Lack of sleep, stress and poor diet weaken your immune system making it tough to do its job. Hitting a yoga class or meditating, calling it a night 30 minutes earlier and incorporating these five foods into your diet can help you keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
The Fabulous Five
Lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products can have a beneficial effect on a weakened immune system. However, five foods in particular have shown to be especially beneficial in keeping your flu-fighters lean and mean.
Also known as a butter pear, this creamy, green, nutty flavored fruit (yes, fruit) provides a lot of immunity-boosting nutrients. The amino acids, antioxidants and healthy omega-3 fats are good for the entire body. Avocados are rich in glutathione and phytonutrients that kill off free radicals.
Current research is studying the effects of those phytonutrients on cells, telling them whether to grow, live or die. These guacamole super-stars also help reduce inflammation, which lessens cold and flu symptoms. They are packed with B-6 vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, minerals like zinc, iron and selenium, which are crucial to the formation of healthy immune system cells that attack invading pathogens.
This spicy, flavorful root has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is known to help break down toxins in organs, and contribute to a clean lymphatic system, the one that disposes of cellular wastes. Ginger also helps regulate your immune system to keep it from over-reacting (allergy attack) and helps to activate T-cells. Those are the white blood cells that are virus and tumor-killing ninjas.
Gravi what!? Graviola is a fruit that grows best in a rainforest climate and can be found abundantly in South America and many tropical islands. This heart-shaped green fruit is also known as a Brazilian paw paw, soursop or guanaba and has been used by ancient peoples to modern times for a variety of health reasons. Graviola has been used to keep the liver healthy, reduce swelling in the mucus membranes, and reduce cold and flu symptoms. Modern researchers are studying a substance in them called annonaceous acetogenins that tend to attack cancer cells. Graviola supports a healthy immune system by killing off parasites and reducing inflammation in the body.
These weird looking, chewy fungi are immune-boosting powerhouses, thanks to being loaded with the powerful antioxidant ergothioneine. It survives cooking and quickly enters the blood stream to shore up your immunity by helping remove heavy metal toxins from your tissues and destroy free radicals that harm healthy cells.
Mushrooms are also a rich source of selenium—low levels have been linked to more severe flu symptoms. They also provide the B-vitamins riboflavin and niacin and have antibacterial and antiviral properties, and may be effective in killing tumors.
There are just so many good things to say about eating oatmeal regularly. For your immune system, oatmeal provides a healthy dose of three minerals critical to keeping it functioning at optimum levels.
Zinc- essential for the growth and function of the immunity cells that recognize and destroy invading pathogens.
Selenium – which we already discussed as an essential component to a healthy immune system, and it’s nice to know you can get it in a variety of foods. Its ability to bind with proteins to form seleno-proteins help regulate the immune system so it responds quickly to invaders but does not go overboard when it senses a harmless pollen (i.e. an allergy attack).
Iron – those with low levels of this mineral often have a weak immune system. It is a critical nutrient in the formation of healthy immune system red and white blood cells that eradicate invading pathogens.
Oatmeal also contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan that supports immune function and reduces susceptibility to infection.
Eating a diverse diet rich in all kinds of fruits and vegetables will help keep your immune system strong. Be sure to add in the fabulous five to help you survive and thrive during dreaded cold and flu season and generally stay healthy year-round for life.