| Which Foods Best Boost
Your Immune System?
Many of us spend money on vitamin and mineral supplements, but
nutrition experts say much of what our bodies need to fight off
infection can be found in foods.
In its latest edition, Prevention magazine says a poor
diet is a top factor in making us susceptible to illness. It then
lists the top five foods that give your body the best immunity:
beef, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, tea and yogurt. While an all-around
healthy diet is crucial, these particular foods help us best flex
our immunity muscles, the magazine said.
Each of the foods should be eaten every day to boost immunity,
nutritionist Heidi Skolnik told Good Morning America.
"We should eat these daily, as often as we can, especially in
this weather," she said. Plenty of rest is also essential to keeping
our immune systems up, she said. Health experts also advise a
Beef It Up a Little
Of the five immunity-boosting foods, beef may be the most surprising,
considering health experts recommend limiting our red meat intake.
But moderation is still key.
"People should still not be eating a 24-ounce porterhouse on
a daily basis," Skolnik said. "A three-ounce portion of beef
and importantly very lean beef that is low in fat is an
important source of zinc."
Zinc deficiency can greatly increase your risk of infection.
Zinc helps develop white blood cells, the cells that we really
need those to fight off foreign bacteria and viruses.
Vegetarians and those who do not eat red meat can look for their
zinc supply in poultry, pork, fortified cereals, yogurt and milk.
If you like oysters, they are also a fantastic source of zinc,
We should also be eating orange vegetables daily, especially
this time of year. Sweet potatoes, or any of the orange vegetables,
are a great way to add vitamin A to our diets. The reason? Vitamin
A is important for our skin, which is the first line of defense
for our immune systems, Skolnik said.
"Think orange, foods like sweet potatoes, and also carrots,
squash, pumpkin," Skolnik said. "These are all great, especially
because they are all in season this time of year. They all are
great sources of beta-carotene, which the body quickly turns into
Although many of us eat carrots, it is often two or three days
between servings, so we need to eat them more regularly, Skolnik
Mushrooms, Yogurt to the Rescue
To add to those 3-ounce lean burgers, mushrooms are another
"Like beef, mushrooms help in the production of white blood
cells in the body," Skolnik said. "Some recent studies have also
found that they may make white blood cells act more aggressively
against foreign bacteria."
The very best kinds of mushrooms are shiitake and maitake, which
are available in most supermarkets.
In addition, the English may know something about fighting off
a cold. Skolnik recommends a cup of black or green tea a day to
muscle up our immune systems.
"Tea is a great source of polyphenols," Skolnik said. "Polyphenols
clean up free radicals, damaging compounds that can hurt your
DNA and accelerate aging."
Antioxidants take care of the free radicals, and tea has more
antioxidants per part than fruits and vegetables.
Yogurt, another immunity-boosting food, is especially important
to eat, particularly after you have been prescribed antibiotics.
Brands that contain active cultures are a good source of healthy
bacteria for your stomach.
"When we take antibiotics they destroy most of the bacteria
in our body," Skolnik said. "The problem is that there are some
beneficial bacteria that the antibiotics take care of as well.
We need these, especially those found in our intestines, to help
us break down foods."
The lack of those bacteria can make us vulnerable to germs that
cause diarrhea, for instance.
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