5 Fresh Foods To Boost Immunity

This winter, give yourself added protection from the flu, colds and stomach viruses. Eat more of these foods to keep the illnesses away and your immunse system strong.

This winter, protect yourself from those cold or flu bugs going around. Eat more of these fresh foods to build up your immunity.

1) Nuts

Snack on almonds, cashews or walnuts, which are packed with vitamin E. This antioxidant helps kick those pesky free-radicals out of your body. Vitamin E also helps create antibodies that fight bacteria that make you sick. Other healthy vitamin E-rich foods are seeds and whole grains.

2) Citrus Fruits

The famous vitamin C helps fight infection and a good antioxidant to have -- along with vitamin E. But there is more to citrus than just orangesgrapefruits, clementines, lemons, limes and tangerines are all part of this family, and they're in season in winter so you can enjoy them at their juiciest. Citrus not your thing? Try bell peppers -- they have more vitamin C than an orange! Potatoes, tomatoes and kiwi are also great sources.

3) Shrimp

So you’ve heard shrimp has cholesterol, but it’s also extremely low in fat and contains the antioxidant selenium. Many foods have a combination of nutrients, and you need to weigh the “bad” with the “good.” Selenium is a mineral needed in small amounts and works to support a healthy immune system. Seafood and meat are great sources for it.

4) Yogurt

The probiotics -- or “good bacteria” found in yogurt and other foods -- keep your digestive system up and running. According to research from the Journal of the American Dietetics Association, consuming foods with probiotics regularly may also help boost your immune system. Sauerkraut, miso and tempeh are other food sources to try.

5) Green Tea

The polyphenols in green tea act as potent antioxidants. Research suggests that catechins, a specific type of polyphenol, may stimulate the immune system cells and hinder disease-promoting compounds. Although you may detect a bitter taste, you can disguise it with a bit of honey. Adding milk is a no-no as it will bind to the polyphenols and stop their immunity benefits. (See some of Dana’s ideas on enjoying tea.)

Immunity Downers

Eating tons of high-fat foods and forgoing your daily fruits and veggies can also weaken the immune system. Smokers have an added disadvantage as smoking increases free-radicals, which definitely takes a toll on the immune system (another good reason to quit).

Be wary of restaurants promoting specialty drinks or products with add-ins that claim to increase immunity. The makers of Airborne settled a $23.3 million dollar false advertising suit last year because they claimed the vitamin and mineral mixture miraculously fights the common cold. Your best bet is sticking with whole, natural foods.

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