I’m starting by getting plenty of liquids to help prevent viruses and bacteria from taking up residence in my body. According to Dr. Riva Rahl of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, “The mucus in your nose is actually one of the key physical barriers that keep germs out of your body. When you’re not well hydrated, it dries up and doesn’t provide that barrier.”
The following health and wellness tips include a variety of ways to help your immune system work at peak performance:
- Protein is a building block for a healthy immune system. Choose lean red meats, poultry and fish, dried beans and soy. You also can choose protein-rich plant sources with heart-healthy fat, like peanut butter and nuts.
- Choose foods rich in vitamins C and E. These antioxidant-rich vitamins protect cells — including those of your immune system — from damage by toxins in the environment. Choose citrus fruits and juices, melons, mangoes, kiwi, peppers, tomatoes, berries, broccoli, cabbage, sweet and white potatoes, winter squash, leafy greens, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, whole grains and fortified cereals several times a day.
- Add a zinc-rich food to your daily diet to increase your body’s production of white blood cells. Research shows that this effect can reduce the number of days you’ll suffer from a cold. Among the foods rich in zinc are yogurt, lean red meat, poultry and fish, almonds, pumpkin seeds and fortified cereals.
- Eat probiotic foods to help build up good bacteria in the intestines. These bacteria play a role in helping to fend off illnesses. Any fermented food is rich in this type of good bacteria, so choose yogurt, sauerkraut, tofu, brine-treated pickles and aged cheese at least daily.
- Add a turmeric extract, with dosages exceeding 1 gram per day, to your daily immunity-boosting regimen. Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also contains compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. The best turmeric extract supplements contain piperine, a substance found in black pepper, which increases the effectiveness and adsorption of the turmeric extract into the bloodstream. Curcumin also is fat soluble, so it may be a good idea take the extract with a fatty meal.