by Katie Waldeck: With cold and flu season just around the corner, now it’s more important than ever to get your immune system in the best shape you can. Getting enough sleep and exercise, and keeping your stress level down, can really do a lot for your health. But having a right diet is just, if not more, important. Luckily, there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables out there that have immunity-boosting properties.
Tip: Look for foods that are rich in color — that’s a surefire sign that they’re also high in immunity-boosting antioxidants. Red, yellow, purple, blue, and orange fruits and vegetables really fit the bill here.
1. Sweet Potatoes.
And just in time for Thanksgiving! Sweet potatoes owe their orange hue to beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into Vitamin A, an essential nutrient for fighting against disease. Sweet potatoes are actually one of the best fresh sources of immunity-boosting properties out there.
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Packed with Vitamins C and E,berries truly are a nutritional powerhouse. Some of your best bests are common berries like raspberries and blueberries, as well as less common ones like acai and goji. Try eating berries with yogurt, another great-immunity boosting food.
Mushrooms are one of, if not the best, vegetarian foods for preventing and fighting disease. That’s because mushrooms help the maturation of your white blood cells, and, as some research suggest, might actually help them ward off disease better!
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Though they probably won’t help you see in the dark, carrots might just help you ward off seasonal colds and flus. Like sweet potatoes, carrots are full of beta-carotene. For the best immune system-boosting results, stick to eating raw carrots.
People have been using garlic to ward of disease for thousands of years. And, more and more research suggest, it’s more than just folk medicine. One prominent study (PDF) found that people who took garlic supplements got few cold symptoms, and, if they did get sick, they were ill for less time than the placebo group.
If you can handle it, try eating a clove of garlic every day. But it doesn’t just have to be the hard way — adding some minced garlic, fresh or cooked, is beneficial.
Kiwifruit is a great natural source of vitamin E, a key nutrient for your immune system. Vitamin E helps protect your body from viral and bacterial infections. Though the jury is still out on whether or not vitamin C helps boost immunity, kiwifruit does have more of the stuff than most citrus fruits, including oranges!
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Like kiwi, spinach is loaded with vitamin E. But that’s not all. Spinach really packs a huge nutritional punch. it has loads of beta-carotene, folate and vitamins A, C and K, as well as minerals like copper and iron — all nutrients vital to maintaining a healthy immune system.