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Immune Boosting Foods

 

By Reem Abdallah, Junior Dietician, Health Factory

 

The flu season is upon us! Do you want to fight those illnesses that attack you throughout winter or whenever there is a change in weather conditions? Do you want to defend your body against the viruses that are spread in your work environment or among your child’s classmates? Then, aside from practicing good hygiene, you need to boost your immune system.

This doesn’t mean that you can eat orange and expect a burst in vitamin C that will protect you from cold.

Boosting the immune system is a combination of eating healthy foods year round that are rich in vitamins and minerals, filling your plates with portions of colorful fruits and vegetables, drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day, exercising, and getting enough sleep to relax your body.

Visit your local grocery store and choose a variety of ingredients that can act as an extra disease fighting punch to your meal plan. Of these ingredients are:

Yogurt:
It is rich probiotics, or the “live active cultures” which are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. A cup a day may reduce your chances of getting a cold.

Citrus:
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons… are rich in vitamin C which is believed to increase the production of white blood cells. They are the key of fighting infections. Your body doesn’t store or produce vitamin C, thus a daily intake of this vitamin is important.

Broccoli:

This vegetable is rich in vitamins A, C and E as well as a variety of antioxidants which help your body fight infections. To keep these nutrients intact, cook the broccoli as little as possible.

Spinach:
This green leafy vegetable is rich not only in vitamin C, but also in several anti-oxidants including folate which helps your body make new cells and repair DNA.

Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes and several other vegetable such as cantaloupe, pumpkin and squash are rich in carotenoids, which the body turns into vitamin A, which has an antioxidant, and may reduce the risk of some cancers and is linked to a slow-down in the aging process.

Fish:

Fish and shellfish such as oysters, lobsters and crab are rich in zinc and selenium, which help white blood cells produce certain proteins that clear viruses from your body.  Fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, increase airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.

Berries:

Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, acai berries … are rich in wide variety of antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals and protect your body against infections.

Button Mushrooms:
Mushrooms are rich in selenium, and B vitamins niacin and riboflavin which boost your immunity and protect you against flu.

Garlic:
It is a part of every cuisine around the world. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds.

Green Tea:

It is rich in antioxidants and in an amino acid that aids in the production of germ fighting in your immune cells.

 

Plan your daily meals to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins and fat. Follow a healthy lifestyle that aids in boosting your immune system to ensure your protection against various diseases

 

About the Author: Reem Abdallah, Junior Dietician, Health Factory
As a Junior Dietician at Health Factory, Reem shares nutrition and health advice and develops personalized diet programs for Health Factory members to ensure that they eat balanced meals and lead more fulfilling, healthier lives. Part of her daily responsibility is to oversee daily orders of all the clients, while keeping in mind the calorie intake prescribed for them and their likes and dislikes. She also plays an important role in developing new menus and updating and analyzing the nutrient content, in order to offer a wide variety of food selection to the clients. Reem also actively participates in events on behalf of Health Factory and helps raise awareness on healthy eating, and eventually a healthier lifestyle.
An accredited and licensed practitioner from the Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon, Reem graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the Lebanese University. Prior to joining Health Factory, she was employed at Bahman Hospital in Lebanon, and at Eat Right Clinic in South Lebanon, wherein she has attended several trainings in healthy catering. Reem also holds a First Aid Certificate from the Lebanese Red Cross Society.
Reem has moved to Dubai, UAE, a year back with her husband.

 

Photo credit: SteveNakatani / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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