It seems routine advice nowadays to eat healthily to aid your body’s cold and flu fighting qualities. We’ve always been told to eat our greens but now we are also told to eat nuts and berries too. Tonia Reinhard, is a registered dietitian and author of the book Superfoods, and Joel Fuhrman, M.D., is the author of Super Immunity and they suggest that if you eat certain foods then your immunity to illness will be increased.
They do warn that it can take your body a few months to build up its defenses fully. In addition to the nuts, berries and leafy greens they suggest eating fatty fish, yoghurt, mushrooms, eggs, onions and beans.
Salmon, trout and tuna are the favorites when most people think of fatty fish, however we shouldn’t forget mackerel, halibut or sardines too. These fish contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids and should be eaten two or three times every week. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to protect the lungs by livening up the white blood cells causing them to destroy more bacteria, it also increases airflow and has an anti inflammatory effect. Reinhard says, "Fatty fish has powerful immune effects and is so important for making the structures and antibodies for the immune system".
Certain vegetables are high in antioxidants. Onions and members of the onion family such as shallots, scallions, leeks and garlic all contain quercetin, allicin and anthocyanins. These antioxidants are known to battle bacteria and infections with their anti inflammatory powers according to Doctor Fuhrman. He says to make sure that you eat half a cup every day.
Mushrooms have a stimulating effect on the immune system according to Fuhrman but he says to steam or cook them, never eat them raw. They work by escalating the numbers of white blood cells which are active and this action helps to fight off infection.
Green leafy vegetables are highly nutritious and very low in calories. Fuhrman says that they are effective against oxidative stress whilst reducing inflammation and caring for blood cells. He recommends that you should eat a salad every day.
Natural yoghurt has probiotics present in it. These active cultures are good bacteria which minimize the risk of pathogens in the stomach and Reinhard says that eating 8 ounces a day should be your target.
Reinhard is a fan of eggs and he says, "The highest-quality protein of any food, eggs contain the compound choline, which keeps invaders from getting into the body. When we keep things from crossing the cell membrane, which causes inflammation, especially in the GI tract, we prevent autoimmune diseases like Crohn's and colitis". He thinks that we should all eat an egg two or three times every week.
Fuhrman points out that beans are full of nutritional goodness and that they are the most ‘nutrient dense carbohydrate source’. He says to eat half a cup a week to ensure that your body gets enough zinc. This will ensure that the white blood cells are in tip top condition to fight off any infections.
Nuts have lots of minerals and protein in them including magnesium, zinc and selenium. We should eat about one ounce every day according to Fuhrman. He says that the high amounts of healthy fats as well as the antioxidants and other nutrients all contribute to the diabetes prevention qualities, weight maintenance and cardiovascular benefits.
We should also eat three fresh fruits every day. Berries are very good because they are low in sugar and contain lots of antioxidants which staves off damage at the cellular level and reduces the risk of developing a tumor.