5 Immune-boosting foods
We're in close quarters in the winter -- often cooped up indoors with at least a few sniffling, sneezing and coughing people. Take action now: Eat right to strengthen your immune system, and you just may be able to avoid getting sick this season.
You know to get enough rest, wash your hands often and sanitize common surfaces, and when possible, avoid mingling with people who are under the weather. But in the height of the cold and flu season, have you given your diet an immune-boosting makeover? Healthy, well-balanced eating can go a long way toward strengthening your defences. Here are some foods you'll want to incorporate into your meals.
Oranges and other citrus fruit -- think grapefruit, lemons, limes -- are high in vitamin C, and C increases the body's production of white blood cells, thereby fortifying your defences against infection. So, yes, down that glass of OJ when you're feeling under the weather. Even better, throw an orange into your lunch, for dessert or as a fresh palate cleanser. They're in season now so you'll be enjoying them at their sweetest and juiciest. And get into the habit of drinking water with a slice of lemon or lime.
Either you love 'em or you hate 'em. Oyster lovers are in luck, though. Oysters are high in zinc, which helps your white blood cells (which fight off bacteria) to reproduce rapidly. Zinc also helps strengthen antibodies, so they become better at fighting off infection. So slurp away. (Your libido might get a boost as well.)
Yes, it may be a bit stinky but garlic has incredible health-boosting properties. It contains antivirals allicin and ajoene and can help ward off infections. You may want to alternate garlic and immune-boosting oysters, however (see above) -- garlic breath is not sexy on anyone.
Carrots are high in beta carotene, which helps boost the number of white blood cells and T-cells. Take advantage of other orange vegetables this season, as well. Anti-inflammatory squash, for example, is high in flavonoids, which can kill bacteria and germs before they take you down with illness.
Get a probiotic boost from a daily helping of yogurt (top it with fresh berries for more antioxidants, too). Yogurt's good bacteria can help maintain a healthy balance of microbes in your gut. Look for brands that contain active cultures.