Banish colds, flu, and H1N1, and boost your immune system this winter with these natural remedy foods.
Sunflower Seeds. Two tablespoons give you more than a third of your daily requirement of vitamin E. This vitamin helps you resist the flu and upper-respiratory infections by boosting production of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Other sources of vitamin E are almonds, wheat germ, hazelnuts, and peanuts.
Brazil Nuts. A single Brazil nut has 95 mcg of selenium, nearly double the amount you need in a day. Your body uses selenium to produce those infection-thwarting T-cells, which in turn destroy bacteria and viruses. Studies show that this antioxidant instigates the good bacteria in our intestines to attack bad bacteria and parasites like E. coli.
Too much selenium can be bad for your health; a small handful of nuts every few days is all you need.
Other sources of selenium are tuna, beef, cod, crab, oysters, chicken, turkey, whole wheat flour, and garlic.
Oysters. High in protein, iron, calcium, and one of the most environmentally friendly types of seafood you can buy. Six oysters provide 32 mg of zinc, four times the recommended daily amount. Zinc is so crucial that a deficiency in this mineral causes your body to function as if it’s older than it really is.
Other sources of zinc are beef, crab, pork, chicken, cashews, beans, fortified cereals, and grain products.
Sweet Potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene. The lining of your lungs and digestive system are the front line of the infection war (which is where it is converted to vitamin A), and depend on this antioxidant to function properly. Vitamin A protects the thymus gland, the body’s production site for T-cells in children.
Other beta-carotene sources are carrots, spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, apricots, papaya, and mango.
Shiitake Mushrooms have a reputation of being immunity boosters to a type of carbohydrate called beta-glucans. Beta-glucans act as a kind of decoy, boosting your body’s immune response. When you eat shiitakes (or other beta-glucan-containing foods), your immune system reacts as if a harmful substance is present and kicks into high gear to protect you.
Other beta-glucan sources are yeast, maitake mushrooms, barley, and oats (mostly bran).
Kiwis take the prize for vitamin C. Known as the “go-to” resource for staving off illness, vitamin C can help increase your resistance to disease and keeps your defenses strong. Just don’t wait for the first sign of infection to start fueling up. Studies show that taking large doses of vitamin C once a cold begins does not shorten its length or severity, but a regular dose of 75 to 90 mg per day might.
Note: Vitamin C is easily damaged by heat and water. Try to consume C-packed foods raw or barely cooked.
Other vitamin C sources are papaya, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, citrus, strawberries, leafy greens, and cantaloupe.
Garlic is known as one of the most potent cold and flu fighters. Garlic can combat a variety of invaders, including bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses, thanks to the presence of polysulfides, a class of sulfur compounds. Ajoene, for example, inhibits the growth of a broad range of microbes, including Staphylococcus aureus (a cause of staph infections) and E. coli. Garlic’s most dynamic compound, allicin, blocks enzymes that help viruses spread. Allicin lies dormant in a clove until it’s cut, chewed, or crushed.
Another allicin source is an onion.