Best Immune Boosting Foods

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Fall is officially upon us and now is the time when we can either conquer or be conquered by our immune systems. Getting a flu shot helps some, and I do suggest you all go out there and get one, but if you are averse to needles, there is a lot you can do to boost your immune system with healthy natural foods. So before you catch that cold take some time to adjust your diet to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially ones that contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemical substances that pair up with damaging free radicals and remove them from your system. A free radical is any atom with an unpaired electron in its outer shell. Free radicals are highly damaging to your system and can cause inflammation and premature aging. Here is a list of the most important anti-oxidant vitamins that I guarantee will keep you on the bright side of healthy. Eat them raw or lightly cooked to retain their vitamin and mineral content.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is one such antioxidant. It is found in these foods: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Beta-Carotene: Found in carrots, pumpkins, squash, beets and other usually orange or red-colored vegetables, beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A and is used in some anti-cancer therapies because of its antioxidant effects.

Vitamin E: Found in broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, so be sure not to over-supplement. Anything beyond 1000mg is considered risky and can cause problems with vitamin K absorption.

Shopping mainly in your produce aisle is the easiest and cheapest way to fight off disease. Make sure you pick your vegetables from every color of the rainbow. This ensures you are getting all of the different benefits that each vegetable provides. See the above chart for the colors and their health benefits. Cold season is upon us, so changing your diet now can change your immune system’s fate for the better.

And please note, it is best to get your vitamins and minerals from fresh foods rather than supplements. So if your diet is rich in these foods, even a simple multivitamin may be overkill. For a complete diet analysis, record your diet for three days (two weekday and one weekend day) and go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/supertracker.html.  In the nutrient reports section, you can find out if you are deficient in any vitamin or mineral, and by how much. Only supplement if there is no way you can get the vitamin or mineral naturally in your diet. Here’s to your good health!

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