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Including these food items in your diet may help you fight off viruses and bacteria

By Sol Vanzi

What we eat is important in keeping us strong and healthy, especially these days. From green vegetables to ginger and garlic, there are simple food items that will keep our immunity strong and functioning well to ward off colds, flu, and other health threats.

To help keep our immune system strong, try to include these powerful immune system boosters when planning meals.

1. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits

Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, and help build up our immune system. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Examples of popular citrus fruits are grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, calamansi, and pomelo. Because our body doesn’t produce or store it, we need vitamin C daily for continued protection.

2. Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers

Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. These are also a rich source of beta carotene, which helps keep our eyes and skin healthy

3. Broccoli


Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables. To keep its power intact, cook it as little as possible—or better yet, eat it raw.

4. Garlic


Found in almost every cuisine in the world, garlic is an absolute must-have to maintain good health. Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. Garlic may also help lower blood pressure and slow down the hardening of the arteries. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin.

5. Ginger


Ginger is another ingredient many use to help decrease inflammation like reducing sore throat. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties.

6. Spinach


Rich in vitamin C, spinach is also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune system. Spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible to retain its nutrients. Light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.

7. Yogurt


Yogurts that have “live and active cultures” printed on the label like Greek yogurt may stimulate our immune system to help fight diseases. Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.

8. Nuts


Vitamin E is also key to a healthy immune system. A fat-soluble vitamin, it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts such as almonds are packed with this kind of vitamin and also have healthy fats.

9. Turmeric


A key ingredient in curries, this spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Research shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.

10. Green tea

Green tea

Although both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), green tea really excels in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in our T-cells.

11. Papaya


Papaya is another fruit loaded with vitamin C. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects. Papayas have decent amounts of potassium, B vitamins, and folate, all of which are beneficial to our overall health.

12. Kiwi


Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of essential nutrients like folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of our body functioning properly.

13. Poultry


When we’re sick, chicken soup is more than just a feel-good food. It helps heal the symptoms of a cold and also protects us from getting sick in the first place. Poultry is high in vitamin B6. About three ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of our daily recommended amount of B6, which is vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.

14. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B6. They’re also incredibly high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant important in regulating and maintaining immune system function. Other food items with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens.

15. Shellfish


Some types of shellfish are packed with zinc, which our bodies need so that our immune cells can function as intended. Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include crab, clams, lobster, and mussels. The daily recommended amount of zinc for adult men is 11 milligrams, and eight milligrams for women. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function.

16. Ampalaya


Both fruit and leaves contribute to a healthy immune system that is vital for fending off potential infections and diseases. Stop or prevent a cold instantly in its tracks while benefiting the digestive system. Prevent or curb food allergies, and get rid of yeast infections naturally. An added bonus of bitter melon is it gives relief from acid reflux and indigestion.

17. Malunggay


Malunggay leaves are an extremely rich source of iron and vitamin A, which are both essential for the normal function of the immune system. Malunggay leaves have also been shown to have beneficial properties in the fight against both breast and colon cancer cells.


Variety is the key to proper nutrition. Eating just one of these food items won’t be enough to help fight off the flu, even if you eat it constantly. Pay attention to serving sizes and recommended daily intake, so you don’t get too much of a single vitamin and too little of others.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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