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Eat These Six Foods to Boost Your Immune System and Avoid Getting Sick

Saturday, 30 March 2019 23:51

Everyone knows that eating real food is superior to taking vitamins and dietary supplements. Few health care professionals would argue against the idea of getting all of one’s nutritional needs met by consuming actual food, as close to its original state as possible, as opposed to relying on packaged supplements for health and wellness.

That being established, some foods have more varied and higher concentrations of nutrients. If you are looking to leverage your eating in order to maximize your nutritional intake for the sake of boosting your immunity (basically the dietary equivalent of, “getting the most bang for your buck,” so to speak), these six foods should become staples in your diet:

1) Turmeric: This plant-based food is one that has generated a lot of hype in the last few years. You can even go to your favorite espresso shop and find turmeric lattes!

People who are familiar with turmeric may know it best as a bright yellow powder found in the spices section of the grocery store. You might even have it on your spice rack at home, either on its own or within curry powder. Turmeric powder has been used for centuries in various Asian cultures as a food seasoning and even as a natural fabric dye because it is so highly pigmented.

Turmeric is related to ginger and is the rhizome (a bulbous type of root) of the Curcuma longa. Curcuma longa is a bright-green, tropical-looking plant that produces eye-catching purple flowers. Turns out, its rhizome is as nutritious as its foliage is beautiful.

Turmeric is made by drying the rhizome and grinding it into a powder. Turmeric may also appear by the name “curcumin,” which is the active ingredient of turmeric and where most of its nutritional superpowers like. Turmeric powder has high concentrations of antioxidants and manganese, and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains a surprising amount of iron (16% of the RDA in a single tablespoon), plus potassium and vitamin C.

Besides being a natural anti-inflammatory, turmeric is also used to aid in the digestive process. Its antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body which contribute to aging and disease. It has also been studied and shown promise at fighting certain types of cancers.

2) Green Tea: Green tea has been called “the healthiest beverage on earth” because it has so much nutrition packed into a small quantity of tea leaves. Green tea comes from the leaves of the shrub plant Camellia sinensis. The leaves are harvested, dried and ground into fine bits and steeped in hot water for a soothing tea with a distinctive taste.

Like turmeric, green tea is high in antioxidants which are helpful in staving off disease, and may be as close to a “fountain of youth” as you’ll ever get. It also contains an astonishing list of vitamins (C, B2 and E) plus beta carotene, theanine and folic acid. Together, these nutrients boost your mood, help your body break down protein, carbs and fats, produce red blood cells, maintain cell health and integrity, maximize the absorption of oxygen, boost immunity, contribute to healthy skin,  and prevent heart disease and some types of cancer and more.

3) Broccoli: Your Mom had good reason to tell you to “eat your broccoli” when you were growing up. It seems that kids either love it or hate it, but by the time they grow up almost everyone develops a taste for it (even if grudgingly).

If all you could ever eat for the rest of your life was broccoli, you would still be doing pretty well by yourself. Broccoli is loaded with fiber and vitamin C. It also has significant amounts of antioxidants, potassium (13% RDA), vitamin A (6% RDA), iron (6% RDA), calcium (6% RDA) and even has 4 grams of protein in a 148 g. The benefits of the combined power of all of these nutrients make broccoli ideal for preventing certain types of cancer, keeping your skin healthy and young-looking, staving off aging and disease, strengthening your bones, fighting inflammation, maintaining healthy blood, contributing to strong muscles and boosting your immunity. There may even be a link between broccoli nutritional value and improving some symptoms of autism and controlling type 2 diabetes. Plus, it’s low-cal so you can pretty much eat as much as you want!

4) Garlic: A little bit goes a long way, which is probably a good thing because, while garlic makes savoury dishes taste amazing, it can be murder on your breath!

Garlic actually comes from the same family as some onions: chives, leeks, shallots and green (spring) onions. This really makes sense when you consider that, like onions, the good part of garlic grows underground.

Garlic is loaded with manganese. An ounce of it contains 23% of the RDA of manganese, which is important for bone health, development and maintenance. Garlic also contains vitamin B6 (17% RDA), vitamin C (15% RDA) and selenium (6%), a trace mineral associated with maintaining a sharp mind and staving off brain-aging. Garlic is a powerful immunity booster, helps to maintain heart health, may lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol while boosting the good kind, contribute to healthy skin and fight aging associated with free radical damage.

5) Ginger: Cousin to turmeric, ginger is also a rhizome. While turmeric is generally consumed in powdered form, ginger can be eaten fresh as well as dried and ground into powder, or even pickled (think sushi) or candied. Ginger has a distinctive, slightly sweet flavor that is commonly used in Asian cuisine. Ginger can also be made into a tea on its own or combined with other plant-based ingredients.

Like the other ingredients on this list of six foods to boost your immune system, ginger contains a little bit of everything, all of it good. Ginger contains significant amounts of fiber, protein, vitamin C, iron and potassium. It also contains folate, zinc, vitamins B2, B3 and B6, phosphorus and magnesium.

Besides being excellent for boosting immunity to illnesses like colds, ginger is also well-known as a digestive aid and a natural way to combat nausea. Ginger’s other benefits include the ability to reduce inflammation, reduce pain associated with menstrual cramps, and helping to maintain healthy heart function.

6) Oysters: While its value as an aphrodisiac isn’t backed by scientific study, oysters are still great for your diet. Oysters are a rich source of zinc. Zinc has been referred to by science as “elusive” because it can’t be found in very many of the foods common to the American diet. Yet this mineral plays a very critical role in bodily processes like metabolism and growing and maintaining body tissues.

Oysters are pretty unique in that a single oyster contains approximately 8 to 9 mg. of zinc. The RDA of zinc for women is 8 mg. and for men, 11 mg. This means just an oyster or two per day will meet your daily need for this important mineral.

Besides being high in zinc, oysters also pack a lot of protein for their size. Oysters also contain calcium, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin B12.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are several more immune system-boosting foods that should also be a regular part of your diet, including red peppers, oily fish, shellfish, blueberries, spinach, kefir, yogurt, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and many more.  As you can see, this list is extremely varied, and there is really something for everyone on it. So if you’re aiming to be cold and flu-free this year, put more of these foods on your regular menu.

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