Immune Boosters: 9 Wonder Foods
6. Cold Crushing Veggies
The unstoppable family of brussels, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage is packed with antioxidants, bone-building vitamin K, and immune cell-supporting amino acids, which are rapidly utilized when infections are present. But recently, scientists have turned their attention to a lesser known phytochemical in these plants, sulforaphane.
According to UCLA researchers, sulforaphane can stimulate antioxidant and enzyme defenses to help reverse age-related declines in immunity and may also help to control asthma by exerting anti-inflammatory effects.
Begun also says not to shy away from fresh fermented preparations. Sauerkraut, for example, possesses the nutritional benefits of cabbage plus probiotics to help restore and balance intestinal flora. “Research shows there is a strong connection between the health of our gut and the immune system,” she notes.
How to Enjoy: Cooking reduces sulforaphane levels, so we recommend the Cran-Apple Crunch Chicken Salad with Creamy Maple Dressing in the Winter 2014 edition of Allergic Living, which contains a double dose of crisp cabbage.
7. Teas: Steeped in Health
It may be time to swap your morning mocha habit for a few mugs of hot tea. “Black, green and white teas contain the amino acid L-theanine, which boosts the body’s defenses against infection,” says Begun.
Antioxidants in tea have received attention for their potential protection against heart disease and cancer, but L-theanine, found exclusively in the tea plant, may be an unsung hero for fending off the flu. The amino acid appears to enhance immune cell function, boosting resistance to bacteria and viruses.
Tea is also gaining attention for its potential to mitigate allergic reactions. A 2010 study at the State University of New York demonstrated the ability of green tea extract to reduce the production of IgE, the principal allergy antibody, in human cells by up to 90 percent.
How to Enjoy: All members of the tea family provide benefits, but the younger green and white versions offer the most goodness. Brew these delicate varieties at 175º F, or enjoy a cool detox with our Matcha Magic Smoothie
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