For most of us, colds seem inevitable. Touch the wrong door knob, shake the wrong hand, walk by a person sneezing, and before you know it, you feel that itchy, scratchy feeling in the back of your throat that signals a cold is coming. On average, Americans get a cold two to four times a year. But instead of accepting sneezing, coughing, and stuffy noses as our fate, we fight back. We chug OJ and water and chew Zicam—but there's even more we can do to be healthy.
The Health Realizations article, "11 Power Foods to Boost Your Immunity," highlights some of the best foods to add to your diet to help your body ward off illness and disease. Some of the highlights include:
- Greek yogurt. It contains vitamin D (which helps strengthen bones), build muscle, and help the nerves connect. Yogurt also contains live active cultures called “probiotics,” which help the digestive system neutralize germs and bacteria in the intestinal tract.
- Sweet potatoes. These yummy vegetables have a surprising amount of fiber (16% of daily recommendation), which can help with constipation and decreasing incidences of diverticulosis as well as certain types of cancers. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin A, or beta-carotene, which can reduce free radicals that damage cells.
- Green tea. Soothing and rich in antioxidants, one of the ingredients in green tea is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects that enhance the power of vitamin C, protect blood vessels from ruptures, and protect cells from oxygen damage. Green tea can also help reduce hypertension.
- Grapefruit and oranges. These juicy fruits are packed with vitamin C and increase the activation of the immune system. They also offer fiber and can help lower cholesterol. Vitamin C cannot be stored in your body, so it should be replenished daily.
- Berries. Acai berries, elder berries, and especially blueberries are high in antioxidants, which can prevent cell damage. Berries are also high in fiber—one cup of blueberries yields 14% of the daily recommendation. Blueberries also provide almost 25% of the suggested dose of vitamin C, and are believed to help slow down the progression of some cancers, as well as heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.
These are only some of the power foods outlined in the article, but the message is clear: filling our plates with these nutrient-dense foods should always be our first line of defense against illness.