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Foods That Boost the Immune System


Recommendations for foods that boost the immune system vary. The Chinese diet to boost the immune system includes a chicken soup tonic that contains chicken, deng shen, broomrape, and sliced ginger. Prevention magazine recommends beef, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, tea and yogurt. Other experts recommend avoiding beef and eating a diet rich in vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, because of the enzymes they contain. Any or all of these diets could have merit. The primary goal should be overall good nutrition.

There are a number of vitamins, minerals, plant components and herbs that are beneficial to the immune system. Finding specific foods that boost the immune system can be complicated, because certain vitamins work best when taken with other vitamins. For instance, vitamin C, probably the most commonly recommended vitamin for infection resistance, works best when taken with calcium and magnesium. Calcium, among the other vital roles that it plays in the body, helps the cells absorb Vitamin C and other nutrients more efficiently. Magnesium plays the same role and is also essential for proper function of the muscles and nerves. So, an effective diet to boost the immune system must include foods that contain Vitamin C, magnesium and calcium, or a combination of foods that contain these important nutrients.

To further complicate your search for foods that boost the immune system, calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for the proper absorption of Vitamin C, work best when taken with iron, manganese, and Vitamin D. The body cannot absorb calcium, if Vitamin D is not present, which is why milk is fortified with Vitamin D. In addition, a lack of Vitamin A in the diet can lead to frequent infections and Vitamin A works best when taken with zinc, calcium, B-complex, and vitamins C, D and E. You may at this point give up on a diet to boost the immune system and just take a multi-vitamin instead, but not all multi-vitamins are the same. Some do not contain calcium or iron. Some are properly balanced for men, but not for women.

Even if you take a good daily multi-vitamin, it is still important to eat a healthy diet and there are some interesting foods that boost the immune system, according to recent studies. Edible mushrooms, for example, are a valuable source of biologically active compounds called beta glucans and could benefit a diet to boost the immune system. Numerous studies have shown that beta glucans stimulate the immune system, providing protection from colds, influenza and infections, as well as AIDS by inhibiting viral replication. If you prefer not to eat mushrooms, beta glucans are found in numerous plant foods, including oats, barley and yeast.

Crabmeat, lobster, oysters, salmon and tuna are all foods that boost the immune system. Because, they are good sources of calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and vitamins A, C, D, E and B complex. Dieticians and nutritionists often refer to salmon as a “super food”. It not only contains all of the vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain a healthy immune system, but is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to be beneficial in preventing heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-3 supplementation can improve overall mental function and reduce symptoms of depression. Dietary experts recommend two servings of salmon per week or four servings of tuna, not only to be included in a diet to boost the immune system, but also to provide adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Certainly, there is no specific diet to boost the immune system, but eating a well balanced diet will improve immune system function. There are foods that boost the immune system because of the vitamins and minerals that they contain, but of utmost importance is overall good nutrition. The best protection is obtained by eating the right foods in the right combination whenever possible, supplementing with a daily multi-vitamin and possibly a natural immune system enhancer during cold and flu season or whenever you feel you are at risk for infection.