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Foods to boost your immune system

Published:Tuesday | September 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Viruses, like the Chikungunya virus are microscopic agents that replicate in the body's cells and are responsible for a bevy of infections and diseases, including chickenpox, AIDS and the common cold. Although bacterial infections may be treated with antibiotics, viral infections cannot. Instead, viral infections depend on the body's immune system for relief. Dietary steps can be taken to help prevent or treat many common viral conditions.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in green, yellow and red peppers, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, kale, mangoes, melons, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, berries and Brussels sprouts. These foods can be incorporated into an immune-juice - fresh fruit and vegetable juice - for a healthy and naturally sweet taste. These vitamin C-rich foods can be steamed or eaten raw to ensure that you reap the nutritional benefits and antioxidant properties. Vitamin C is a well known common cold fighter and may also protect against other viruses, as well.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in nuts, asparagus, avocado, eggs, milk, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, carrots, red peppers and pumpkin. These nuts, seeds and vegetables taste delicious when roasted in the oven and help prevent cell damage from free radicals, allow your cells to efficiently communicate and protect against disease.

Probiotics

Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in various foods that act similarly to those that occur naturally in the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, probiotics promote gastrointestinal and immune health for those with severe viral infections, such as viral hepatitis. Valuable sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, fermented soy products, sauerkraut and pickles. To reduce or prevent digestive symptoms that occur due to viral infection, incorporate a variety of probiotic food sources into your diet regularly.

Caroteinoids

Caroteinoids, which contain beta-carotene, are found in sweet potatoes, watermelon, corn, turnips, collards, squash, broccoli, apricots, beets, peaches, corn and asparagus. These fruits and vegetables are soaring with antioxidants, which help repair cells from free radicals. Furthermore, beta-carotene rich foods provide a source of vitamin A and enhances the functioning of the immune system.

Zinc and Selenium

Zinc is found in dairy products, nuts, seafood, red meats, oysters, beans and whole grains. Selenium is found in tuna, beef, grains, Brazil nuts and poultry. These protein-rich foods are the building blocks to many cells in your body through their amino acids. Furthermore, the fibre found in grains helps rid toxins from your body through your liver, which in turn may strengthen your immune system. Zinc enhances the function of T cells, which are vital in identifying antigens and notifying other immune cells to invaders.