(NaturalNews) It`s important to eat healthy, immune strengthening foods throughout the year, but it is especially important during cold and flu season. The season can start as early as October and last through April.
According to a study by Harvard Medical School, "the immune system is precisely that-" "a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony." In order to keep that balance, it is important to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains. And, there are certain fruits, vegetables and grains that are proven to help keep that balance and boost the immune function. Dr. Sears says there are eight important immune-boosting vitamins and minerals found in whole foods- Vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, selenium, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc. It does not have to be difficult to get these nutrients in our diet. Below is a list of some of the best immune boosting foods to eat during cold and flu season.
Oranges and tangerines- Vitamin C found in citrus fruits is at the top of the list of immune boosters for many reasons. Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon which will prevent the entry of viruses. Most any food that contains vitamin C will also contain bioflavonoids. Together, they work to boost our immunities.
Grains- Vitamin E in seeds and grains supply plenty of nutrients to boost your immune system. However, it is difficult for most people to get the required 60mg, so supplements of Vitamin E may be necessary. Studies show that sprouted grains and lentils are some of the best for increasing our bodies' immunities because they are loaded with Vitamin E and zinc.
Carrots- These vegetables produce beta carotene and other carotenoids which increase the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killers, and T-cells. They also protect against cancer by stimulating the immune cells called macrophages to produce tumor necrosis factor, which kills cancer cells.
Garlic- It offers several antioxidants and selenium that fight any immune system invaders. You can use it in soups and sauces or buy it as a supplement.
Almonds and lima beans- Protein rich foods contain zinc. This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. A word of caution from Dr. Sears: "Too much zinc in the form of supplements (more than 75 milligrams a day) can inhibit immune function. It`s safest to stick to getting zinc from your diet and aim for 15 to 25 milligrams a day."
Flax Oil- This oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids which act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. It's easy to add flax oil to your diet; just add one to three teaspoons to a fruit and yogurt smoothie.
Broccoli- This vegetable is a great immune booster and it is easy to add to any meal. It`s full of nutrients that protect your body from damage such as vitamins A, vitamin C, and glutathione.
Yogurt- In addition to all the fruits, vegetables and grains, a daily cup of yogurt with live and active cultures may stimulate your immune system to fight disease. Also, in recent studies, the vitamin D in yogurt and in sunlight has been linked to decreasing the risk of cold and flu better than the flu vaccine. If you don`t eat dairy, many health food stores carry soy yogurt.
With cold and flu season just ahead of us, let`s choose now to eat healthy. Let`s give this cold and flu season a fight!
Lindy Brown is a freelance writer, editor and photographer. She is also the mother of two and is passionate about natural health and outdoor fitness. Her expertise is in healing foods. She continually looks for natural ways to help heal and strengthen the body in order to keep her family healthy and to share her knowledge with others. She and her husband have their own online, outdoor health magazine at www.outdoorgulfcoast.com You can also find her at www.gulfcoastediting.com