Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Ways to strengthen your immune system

Published:Wednesday | January 18, 2017 | 12:03 AM
Green tea
Coconut water
Sweet potato

Ways to strenghten your immune system

One of the keys to fighting the flu is having a strong immune system. In fact, the strength of your immune system greatly determines how your body responds to infections, viruses and diseases. Healthy eating, consuming the right foods, healthy lifestyle practices, and ensuring you get your daily recommended dose of the essential vitamins and minerals are very important to having a strong immune system and helping us stave off infections.

It has been proven that persons with a strong immune system resist illnesses and recover much faster than those with a weak immune system.

Surviving the flu is largely dependent on:

n Getting plenty of rest to repair damaged cells and allow the body to produce antibodies to heal itself

n Drinking adequate fluid to prevent dehydration and replace fluid loss

n Eating nutrient-rich foods to boost the body's immune system

n Taking flu and pain medication to alleviate pain, discomfort and other associated symptoms.

Eating the right foods all year round is very important. Here are some foods that can help to boost your body's immune system:


Garlic is a superfood that offers several antioxidants that battle immune system invaders. Over the centuries, it has been used for a multiplicity of medicinal purposes, including for several types of cancer, ulcer, flu, preventing and treating bacterial and fungal infections, building the immune system, reducing cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, stress and fatigue, fighting fever, coughs, headaches, stomach ache, asthma, bronchitis, gout, rheumatism and sinus congestion ... and that's just the beginning of garlic's many health benefits.


Researchers have proven that curcumin or turmeric can triple the output of ammunition used by your front-line immune troops (innate immunity) to combat bacterial, viral, and fungal infection. Turmeric has vitamin C, vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, calcium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. One way your body defends you from invaders is by your front-line immune cells, and even non immune epithelial cells that line your digestive tract and sinuses, shooting a protein-peptide bullet called cathelicidin (cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide - CAMP). CAMP is a potent germ killer, a vital part of your defence against bacterial, viral, and fungal infection. It can kill invaders your body has no experience dealing with in the past, and is therefore a vital part of your innate immune system.


Both authentic green and black teas are loaded with disease-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids - natural chemical compounds that have been found to increase immune system activation. These antioxidants seek out cell-damaging free radicals and destroy them, building a stronger immune system.


Thanks to the mineral zinc found in oysters, it is a great immune booster. Low zinc levels have also been associated with male infertility, and zinc appears to have some antiviral effect. Zinc, a mineral that's important to the body in many ways, keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth.


Ripe watermelon has plenty of the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Known to help strengthen the immune system so it can fight infection, glutathione is found near the rind in the red pulpy flesh of the watermelon.


Cabbage, easy and inexpensive to find, is a source of the immune-strengthening glutamine. Have any variety of cabbage (white, red, Chinese) on its own raw or steamed or add to soups and stews for extra antioxidants to boost your meal's nutritional value.


A handful of almonds may beef up your immune system from the effects of stress. A recommended quarter cup serving carries nearly 50 per cent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E, which helps boost the immune system. Almonds also have riboflavin and niacin, B vitamins that may help you bounce back from the effects of stress.


Grapefruit is packed with flavonoids, immune system boosters. They also have a good amount of vitamin C, which provides protection against immune system deficiencies, common cold, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. Oranges or tangerines can also have the same effect.


Known as a superfood, spinach is nutrient-rich. It has folate, which helps your body produce new cells and repair DNA. And it boasts fibre, antioxidants, such as vitamin C, and more. Eat spinach raw or lightly steamed to get the most benefit.


Wheat germ is the part of a wheat seed that feeds a baby wheat plant, so it is full of nutrients. It has zinc, antioxidants, and B vitamins, among other vital vitamins and minerals. Wheat germ also offers a good mix of fibre, protein, and some good fat. Substitute wheat germ for part of the regular flour called for in baked goods and other recipes.


A daily cup of low-fat yogurt may reduce your chances of getting a cold. Look for labels listing 'live and active cultures'. Some researchers believe they may stimulate your immune system to fight disease. Also look for yogurt with vitamin D listing. Recent studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of cold and flu.


Like carrots, sweet potatoes have the antioxidant beta-carotene, which mops up damaging free radicals. Sweet potatoes also boast vitamin A, which is linked to slowing the ageing process and may reduce the risk of some cancers.


Broccoli is a proven immune-boosting food. One study reported that a particular chemical in broccoli helped stimulate the immune systems of mice. It is also full of nutrients that protect your body from damage. Broccoli has vitamins A, vitamin C, and glutathione. You can add some low-fat cheese for a side dish with immune-enhancing B vitamins and vitamin D.


Called liquid gold from a tree, coconut water has some amazing properties. It is rich in electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids, minerals (calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium), vitamins (eiboflavin and vitamin C) and fibre.