By Bari Auerbach….
There are many nutrient-dense superfoods that can be included in your diet to help reduce sick days and fight harmful free radicals. Sixty percent of the immune system’s receptor cells are in the colon and another 15 percent are in the lower part of the small intestine, meaning 75 percent of your immune system is “at the mercy of what’s going on in your gut” – so it makes sense that proper nutrition can support immune health. .
Yogurt for Probiotics
Low-fat yogurt is packed with probiotics— similar to good bacteria found naturally in the intestine that can help prevent colds and improve immune response when you’re sick. Probiotics, or live cultures, maintain the balance of microflora in the gastrointestinal system, which can prevent harmful bacteria from causing illness.
Fish for Omega-3’s
The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines boost immunity by increasing the activity of phagocytes—white blood cells that destroy bacteria. Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from infection.
Milk and Eggs
for Vitamin D Increasing your dietary intake of Vitamin D rich foods such as milk and eggs can reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu. Research has determined that people with lower Vitamin D levels increased their risk of developing an upper respiratory infection by 36 percent, compared to those getting more vitamin D.
Oysters for Zinc
Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food. Severe zinc deficiency can depress immune function—and even a mild deficiency can impair natural killercell activity, exposing you to infections such as the flu and the common cold.
Meat for Protein
Lean red meat such as skirt steak can actually be a powerhouse for the immune system because antibodies and enzymes rely on protein to complete their tasks. Beef contains more zinc and iron than chicken or fish and high levels of carnitine, which plays a critical role in promoting cellular energy required for optimal immune function.
Grapefruit for Vitamin C
Grapefruit possess antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It also comes with a solid punch of vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system by helping the body heal, stimulating formation and action of cells involved in the immune response, and promoting growth and repair of skin, a primary barrier against disease.
Mushrooms for Beta Glucans
“Mushrooms enhance white blood cells and are major defenders against infection,” states Hyla Cass, M.D., author of “Supplement Your Prescription.” Mushrooms also have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant activity and are a source of beta glucans, which have been shown to stimulate natural killer-cell function.
Nuts and Seeds for Magnesium
Nuts and seeds such as almonds, flaxseeds and walnuts are a good source of magnesium— one of the most important micronutrients in the body. Low levels of magnesium can compromise the immune system and cause irritability, tension and heart arrhythmias.
Berries for Antioxidants
Blueberries, strawberries and pitted fruits are among the best sources for antioxidants— vitamins and minerals that help remove harmful free radicals from the bloodstream. A diet high in antioxidants can protect against cancer, heart disease, certain diseases of the central nervous system and some forms of kidney, gastrointestinal and skin disease.