Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keeping Your Immune System Strong

If someone in your family is starting to feel under the weather, read these great tips from WebMD:

An Immune System Buster
Eating foods high in sugar and fat:
Consuming too much sugar suppresses immune system cells responsible for attacking bacteria. Even consuming just 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about the same as in two 12-ounce sodas) reduces the ability of white blood cells to overpower and destroy bacteria. This effect is seen for at least a few hours after consuming a sugary drink. A diet high in saturated fat has a similar effect."

An Immune System Booster
Get more antioxidants in your diet: A diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and nutrients can boost immunity to help fight infection. Your body produces free radicals -- molecules that can damage cells. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals so they can’t do any damage. Researchers believe that when the balance between free radicals and antioxidants is upset, it can contribute to developing cancer and heart disease, as well as age-related diseases.

Top antioxidants include vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. To get enough of these antioxidants in your diet, experts recommend eating an abundance of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

Other immune-boosting foods include fresh garlic, which has claims of antiviral and antibacterial properties, and old-fashioned chicken soup. A study showed that if you do come down with a cold or the flu, a bowl of steaming chicken soup can boost immunity and help you get well faster.

In addition, mushroom varieties such as reichi, maitake, and shiitake may have some influence on immune function.