Getting sick can be such a buzz kill, especially when it happens during a really busy week at work, or on the weekend when you have special plans. To an extent, however, you can work to prevent getting sick by consuming foods that can subtly build your immune system. The best part is none of the foods are particularly obscure, so they are not difficult to add into your diet by any means. Just add them to your shopping list, or rethink your order during your next restaurant visit, and you’ll be like a new, cough-free you.
We all have our little tricks we practice to avoid getting sick, like being sure to use antibacterial hand soap regularly, or expertly dodging those sneezers who can’t seem to keep it to themselves. Sometimes, though, despite our best efforts we still end up waking up one morning with that dreaded itchy throat and fever and wondering how this could have happened.
As you might have guessed, it’s all dependent on what’s going on inside your body — particularly how your immune system is handling the bacteria and viruses it’s faced with. By boosting your immune system, you can proactively help fight against the unwanted illnesses. How can you boost it, you might ask? For one, as this article will detail, you can amp up your diet by incorporating some different immunity-building foods. Each of the foods we’ll talk about below have various components that assist our bodies in its fight against those colds and flus we’re hoping to dodge. Here are nine foods that can subtly build your immune system.
According to Good Housekeeping, oats contain beta-glucans — a component that help boost the infection-fighting blood cells in our bodies. Oats also have selenium and zinc, the outlet added — both of which also play a part in fighting off infection. It’s actually quite simple to get more oats into your day, just try swapping in oatmeal for breakfast a few days a week and… voila!
I hate oysters, but if eating them means I’m helping my immune system, I’d bite the bullet. Oysters contain zinc, which helps to boost white blood cells, bettering your body’s immune response, according to WebMD. The outlet added zinc’s powers can also help by enhancing the immune system for healing wounds.
Oranges are your immune system’s BFF. Also, basically all foods containing high levels of vitamin C are going to build that immunity system up, up, up. According to the Riordan Clinic, when consumed, vitamin C increases the production of the white blood cells responsible for fighting off infection. It also increases interferon — an antibody that prevents entry of viruses into cells, Riordan Clinic said.
You’ve probably heard before that yogurt contains probiotics — healthy bacteria that work to keep away disease-causing germs. Therefore, according to Prevention, the food can be eaten as a means of building the immune system and warding off sickness. Specifically, the outlet recommended two 6-ounce servings a day.
According to AARP, carrots are quite rich in beta-carotene — a component the body uses to fight off respiratory infections. Get your fill on these vegetables to better your preventative health, or if you’re not a carrot lover, try our next food on the list.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Not only do sweet potatoes contain that great beta-carotene, they also are full of vitamin A. According to dietitian Nema McGlynn who spoke to Huffington Post, “Sweet potato contains vitamin A, which prevents infections by keeping the skin and tissues of the mouth, stomach, lungs and intestines healthy.” McGlynn said oppositely, a deficiency in vitamin A can impair your immune system, making it more likely for you to get an infectious disease. That said, make vitamin A a priority, people.
Starting to feel a little sluggish? Get a dose of whey protein, and you could quickly head to battle with whatever infection might be brewing in your body. According to Women’s Health, whey is rich in cysteine, an amino acid that converts glutathione in the body. Why should we care? Glutathione is an antioxidant that fights against bacterial and viral infections, the outlet noted. An easy way to get your fill is to add a little whey protein powder to a juice or smoothie.
WebMD refers to spinach as a “super food,” and you should too. One of the many beneficial nutrients spinach contains is folate. According to WebMD, folate helps the body make cells and repair DNA. Your immune system will be happy you indulged in the veggie, which also contains vitamin C, your body’s good ‘ol friend. WebMD suggested eating raw or lightly cooked spinach to get the benefits.
9. Sports Drinks
OK, not exactly a food, but this is interesting. Women’s Health noted consuming a sports drink might protect you against the flu. They cited an International Journal of Sport Nutrition study that showed drinking one cup of a sports drink every 15 minutes during exercise significantly improved participants’ immune responses compared to those who did not drink it. So, drink up.
As winter comes to a close, the last thing any of us feel like doing is being sick for those warm springtime days. By incorporating some of these foods into your diet, you can start to build up that immune system of yours and prevent any preventable illnesses from coming your way in the near future.
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