There is a popular saying that prevention is better than cure. Everyone desires to be healthy. In this issue, we bring you some foods that can help to fortify your immune system against diseases. Immune system as defined by Word Web is “a system (including the thymus and bone marrow and lymphoid tissues) that protects the body from foreign substances and pathogenic organisms by producing the immune response.” Immune response is the body’s defence reaction that detects invading substance – an antigen: such as a virus, fungus, bacteria or transplanted organ and produces antibodies to fight against that antigen.
Some foods are known to be helpful in boosting the immune system. They are highlighted below.
- Oats and Barley
Studies show that these grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber which has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties more powerful than Echinacea. These compounds boost immunity, speed up healing of wounds and could help antibiotics work better.
The “live active cultures” or probiotics, found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Studies show that 7-ounce dose of yogurt daily is effective in boosting the immune system.
- Fish and Shellfish
Shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, crayfish, shrimps and other crustaceans contain selenium, a substance which helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help clear influenza viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel (titus), and herring are fishes rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.
Garlic contains an active ingredient known as allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. Research shows that taking garlic could help prevent cold. Other studies show that taking 6 cloves of garlic a week lowers the rate of colorectal and stomach cancer.
It is therefore advisable to take two raw cloves of garlic per day and add garlic to your cooking frequently.
Tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for boosting immune system. This substance is present in both black and green tea. Studies show that when tea is hot, the bionic brew releases catechins, a kind of antioxidant which helps prevent cancer and inflammation of cells. To release more antioxidants from tea bags, press the tea bags while the tea is brewing.
Beef contains zinc which helps in the development of white blood cells. White blood cells are the immune system cells that recognize and destroy invading bacteria, viruses, and other antigens. Zinc deficiency, even in a mild form, can increase risk of infection. Alternatives to beef include; fortified cereals, zinc-rich oysters, pork, poultry, yogurt, or milk.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A. Vitamin A makes the skin strong and healthy. The skin prevents bacteria, viruses and other germs from entering into the body. Vitamin A also helps in the production of connective tissue, a key component of the skin.
Mushrooms are also good for boosting the immune system. Studies show that mushrooms help the proliferation and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is good when the body has an infection.