By Barbara Pronin
With kids back in school, we enter the season where spreading germs is almost inevitable. It helps to teach kids to wash hands often, and to sneeze into the crook of an arm. But what we eat makes a difference.
From Prevention Magazine comes a list of nine power foods that help boost immunity from colds and flu for every member of the family:
Yogurt – Probiotics, the ‘live active cultures’ in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.
Oats and barley – The grains contain beta-glucan, a fiber with potent antimicrobials and antioxidants. One or two servings a day in cereal, soup, or other dishes can boost immunity, speed wound healing and help antibiotics work better.
Garlic – Crushed into recipes several times a week, or taken regularly in tablet form, garlic, with its active ingredient, allicin, fights infection and bacteria.
Fish – Salmon and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections. The selenium in most shellfish helps white blood cells produce a substance that helps drive flu viruses out of the body.
Chicken soup – Grandma wasn’t lying. Chicken soup acts like a bronchitis drug, blocking the migration of inflammatory white cells. Also, the salty broth keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. Adding garlic and onions can increase immune-boosting power.
Tea – People who drank five cups a day of black tea for two weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than those who drank a placebo, in a Harvard study. The amino acid responsible, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—and in decaf versions.
Beef – Zinc is important for the development of white blood cells, the immune system cells that recognize and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. A three-ounce serving of lean beef provides what you need. Vegetarians should consume zinc-fortified yogurt, milk, cereals.
Sweet potatoes – Skin is a first-line fortress against bacteria and viruses – and healthy skin needs lots of vitamin A. The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes – or other orange veggies, including pumpkin, carrots or squash – is a great way to get it.
Mushrooms – A handful added to pasta sauce, salads, omelets, or pizza increases the production and activity of white blood cells, which effectively help fight infection.