Boost your immunity

by Dr. Philip S. Chua.
October 30, 2010

The integrity of our natural personal immune system confers upon our body a defense mechanism which determines our susceptibility to, or the degree of protection we have against, various diseases.
Besides a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, abstinence from tobacco and other harmful substances, moderation in alcohol intake, and taking daily multivitamins-mineral (from A to Zinc) supplements, there are food items which can boost our immune system and provide us greater resistance to illnesses and daily stress.

The following foods do amazing job of boosting our immunity: low-fat yogurt, broccoli, wheat germ, sweet potato, garlic, tea, grapefruit, watermelon, cabbage, oyster, blueberries, acai berry, elderberry, button mushroom, spinach, almonds.

Watermelon, cabbage, and broccoli have the antioxidant gluthathione, which also has the side-effect of whitening the skin in a natural way. (This should not be confused with the glutathione preparations being advertised as skin whitener, because the use of these commercial items still has some safety health issues. The final word on their long term adverse health effects on the body as they are used as skin whiteners are still unknown).

Low-fat yogurt (live and active cultures are preferred) is good for the gastrointestinal system, digestion, lowering cholesterol, and boosting the immune system, even against common cold.

Broccoli has nutrients that minimize the damages of from natural wear-and-tear to our body. Besides proving fiber, it also acts as “brushes to scrub and clean” the inner walls of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon (a protection against cancer).

Wheat germ has antioxidants, zinc, vitamins, and minerals, and some good fats. This is a good substitute for regular in baked goods.

Sweet potatoes (camote) have beta-carotene, an antioxidant, which neutralizes the cell-damaging free radicals in our body. Camote boosts vitamin A, which helps slow down the aging process and also reduce the risk of developing some forms of cancer.

Garlic contains several antioxidants that fight the enemies of our immune system, as is an effective substance against the h. pylori bacterium that causes ulcers and stomach cancers. When using garlic, it is best to let is sit for about 15 minutes after peeling and chopping, to maximize its excretion of its immune-boosting enzymes.

Tea, black or green, contains a lot of flavanoids and polyphenols, which are antioxidants that ward off diseases by destroying free radicals that damage the cells. Both regular and decaffeinated teas are similarly effective.

Grapefruit has a load of vitamin C and is a booster of the immune system. If you are not too fond of grapefruit, you may try orange or tangerine, or pomelo (suha, Philippine “grapefruit,” which is less bitter/pungent, and a bit sweeter). Caution: As we have stated in a previous column, grapefruit affects the absorption and potency of some medications.

Watermelon, a member of the cucurbitaceae family (squash, cantaloupe, pumpkin), is also an effective immune system booster with its antioxidant, gluthathione, which is in the red pulpy flesh near the rind. The other 3 members are also immune booster. Like tomatoes, watermelon also has lycopene, a substance protective against prostate cancer.

Cabbage also has gluthathione and vitamin C, and provides high-fiber which is good for colonic health.

Oyster, the mythical aphrodisiac, contains a high level of zinc, a deficiency of which causes infertility. Zinc is known for its anti-viral and wound-healing effects. Always remember that uncooked foods, like raw oysters are possible harbinger of bacteria.

Berries in general have high levels of vitamin C and are rich in antioxidants, anthrocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Berries appear to fight flu viruses as well.

Button mushrooms are rich in selenium and antioxidants. They also have the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin, which are essential in metabolism. Studies in animals revealed button mushrooms to possess antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-tumor power.

Spinach, which some people dismiss as a vegetable good only for Popeye, is actually a “super-food” rich in nutrients. Spinach contains folate, which is needed in the body’s production of new cells and in the repair of our DNA. It is also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Spinach is best when eaten raw, as a salad

Almonds has niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, fiber, anti-cholesterol properties, and is a booster of the immune system. Almond is one of the best nuts for our over-all health, especially the cardiovascular system.

Green leafy vegetables, in general, are also boosters of the immune system, besides being good for our complexion, our gastrointestinal tract, bones and joints, and the cardiovascular system. These vegetables are also great aids in weight control and in warding off metabolic illnesses, like diabetes, arthritis, etc.

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