While an apple a day is a healthy choice, it takes more than that to keep the doctor away. However, there are certain foods that can boost your immune system and help keep colds at bay.
- Oats and Barley – these grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea, according to a Norwegian study. When animals eat this compound, they’re less likely to contract influenza, herpes, even anthrax. In humans, it boosts immunity, speeds wound healing and may help antibiotics work even better.
- Sweet Potatoes – this orange root vegetable is high in beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin. And while you may not think of skin as part of your immune system, it covers an impressive 16 square feet and serves as a first line of defense against bacteria, viruses and other illnesses. To stay strong and healthy, your skin needs vitamin A.
- Garlic – this potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks. The garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Other studies suggest that garlic lovers who eat more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer.
- Mushrooms – For centuries, people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. Researchers have finally figured out why. Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This comes in handy when you have an infection. Shiitake, maitake and reishi varieties appear to pack the biggest immunity punch.
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