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Eating your way to a better immune system

by bob.g (follow)
Nutrition (269)      Therapeutic Foods (53)      October Competition (15)     
Building your diet around the right natural foods guarantees not only a slim waist line, but an impeccable immune system as well.

Eating well in the context of immune health revolves around a handful of well-established principles.

- Think Probiotic. Foods with live cultures are extremely good for the digestive system and body as a whole.

- Stay Hydrated. Being healthy is impossible if you're dehydrated. As we'll see, tea can help you get the most out of the water you drink.

- Mind your Macronutrients. Your immune system is a sophisticated network of complex proteins. Without the macronutrient infrastructure required to produce them, your body can't do anything. This is why it's so important to eat balanced meals.

Let's look at how these principles can help you find 5 immune-boosting foods to build into your meals.


Attribution - Flickr

Yogurt & Other Probiotics

Yogurt is a staple of immuno-centric eating. Yogurt features live cultures of a variety of bacteria that do wonders for your body, including L. acidophilus and L. reuteri.

Acidophilus is know to give your digestive system a powerful boost, helping your body function as it should, while reuteri is known to improve white blood cell counts. Opt for natural, sugar free varieties.

Studies have shown that people who eat cultures of these bacteria take more than 30% fewer sick days than people who don't, by any measure an impressive margin.

Yogurt isn't the only probiotic food out there, of course. Kimchi, Kombucha and natto — Korean fermented cabbage and Japanese fermented beans, respectively — are also known for their bacterial content. Most people stick to yogurt, however— a whiff of either of these foods is enough to teach you why!


Attribution - Flickr


Like yogurt, tea is a staple of any diet that intends to boost the immune system. All different kinds of tea contain large amounts of antioxidants (green, black, white). These are chemical compounds that decrease the rate and intensity of cellular aging. This, in turn, keeps your body's immunological machinery in tip-top shape. Also, according to Your Tea’s recent blog post, regular tea varieties will indeed have a welcome influence on the digestive system and boost immunity even more.

Despite its caffeine content, tea also keeps you hydrated. Its diuretic effect is far less potent than that of coffee. You should aim for three cups of tea (without milk) per day for maximal results, but feel free to sip it from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep — it won't hurt, and it very well might help.


Attribution - Flickr

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in iron, meaning they support a strong circulatory system — a necessary prerequisite for a powerful immune system.

They are also high in beta-carotene, which your body uses to keep your skin healthy. People often forget that the skin is the body's largest organ, and its first line of defense against would-be invaders. Keeping it healthy] is an important preventative measure. Not only will you be sick less frequently, but you'll look more radiant, as well.

Kale & Other Greens

Kale, collard greens, and other dark leafy vegetables are superb additions to any diet. They are packed with cell-protecting antioxidants, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and contain even more iron than spinach and broccoli.


Attribution - Flickr

Protein: Beef, Fish, and Chicken

Finally, remember to fill your diet with as much protein as you can manage. The health of your immune system and musculoskeletal system are directly related to how much protein is in your diet. The more you get, the easier it is for your body to take care of itself — it's that simple.

Those of you who exercise frequently will notice big differences in your recovery time after you start eating more protein, as well — you'll get stronger, faster, and feel healthier than ever once you start incorporating beef, fish, and chicken noodle soup into your daily eating plan (or vegetarian alternatives).

Related articles
Why homemade yogurt rocks
The truth about Kombucha
Homemade Kombucha recipe

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