Foods to boost your immune system

A strong immunity can help fight off disease and infections, and allow you to recover faster if you do get sick

Racha Adib
Racha Adib
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Not getting enough sleep, smoking, bingeing on alcohol, following a sedentary lifestyle, and not eating a balanced diet can take a toll on your immune system. With the flu season upon us, it is important to invest in your health. A strong immunity can help fight off disease and infections, and allow you to recover faster if you do get sick. Load up on these seven power foods that are rich with the micronutrients your immune system needs to function properly.

A good source of protein and calcium, yogurt can also benefit your immune system. It contains probiotics, which are friendly bacteria that help balance out harmful bacteria in the gut. These probiotics can promote a healthy digestive tract, which is closely linked to proper immune function. Look for yogurt that contains the “live” or “active cultures” seal on the label.

Oysters are rich in zinc, a trace element essential for the cells of the immune system. Zinc keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth. The Institute of Medicine recommends 11mg per day for male adults, and 8mg for female adults. There are 76mg in just six medium oysters.

It is the most vitamin- and mineral-dense part of the wheat kernel that ultimately nourishes a new wheat plant to grow. Wheat germ delivers a good mix of fiber, protein and healthy fat, and contains immunity-boosting nutrients such as zinc and a mix of B vitamins. It can be used as a topping on yogurt or oatmeal. You can also replace some of the flour in baking with wheat germ.

Not only is it hydrating, it also contains the mother of all antioxidants - glutathione - which is found in the red pulpy flesh near the rind.

All teas contain polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants that are believed to give tea its immune-boosting effects. One laboratory study suggested that a particular type of polyphenol called catechins may kill flu viruses. Add a splash of lemon juice and a little honey to help blunt bitterness and maximize benefits.

Like most orange vegetables, sweet potatoes contain the precursor beta carotene, which your body turns into immunity-boosting vitamin A.

Spinach contains the B vitamin folate, which helps your body repair DNA and make new cells. It is also rich in vitamin C. Cook spinach as little as possible to retain its nutrients.

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