9 Foods to Boost the Immune System

Adding these foods to your diet can help you stay healthy.

By Amanda MacMillan and Tamara Schryver, R.D.

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Foods That Fight Illness

It takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. It turns out that eating some pretty surprising nutrients will help keep your immune system on guard. You can ensure that your body and immunity run smoothly by rounding out your plate with plenty of colorful servings of fruits and veggies, plus 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, at the very least. The following ingredients can add extra flu-fighting punch to your winter meal plan.

yogurt will help boost your immune system1. Yogurt

Probiotics, or the "live active cultures" found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Although they're available in supplement form, a study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7-ounce dose of yogurt was just as effective in boosting immunity as popping pills. In an 80-day Swedish study of 181 factory employees, those who drank a daily supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri—a specific probiotic that appears to stimulate white blood cells—took 33 percent fewer sick days than those given a placebo. Any yogurt with a Live and Active Cultures seal contains some beneficial bugs, but Stonyfield Farm is the only U.S. brand that contains this specific strain.

Your optimal dose: Two 6-ounce servings a day.

2. Oats and Barley

These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than echinacea, reports 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 better.

Your optimal dose: At least one in your three daily servings of whole grains.

3. 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 chow more than six cloves a week have a 30 percent lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50 percent lower rate of stomach cancer.

Your optimal dose: Two raw cloves a day and add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.

This article is courtesy of Prevention Magazine.

 

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