It’s the start of a new term, which means that you will face many new people, new activities, and new sickness-causing bugs. Chances are, most of us are going to fall ill this semester; but this doesn’t mean that we can’t try our best to prime our immune systems to fight the nasty germs. Here are some all-natural, tasty, and consumable ways to give your immune system an edge against germs this Fall.
1. Eat Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkins, like carrots and other orange vegetables, are loaded with beta-carotene and other carotenoids. These powerful anti-oxidants fire up the immune system by activating pretty much every immune cell in your body. Enjoy pumpkin out of a can, as a pie, a soup base, in an easy-to-make pudding, or in bread. Note that taking a beta-carotene supplement is not as effective as eating sources rich in all the carotenoids, as they work best together to ramp up immunity.
2. Be ‘C’ Crazy. As Mom always told us, eating oranges during cold season is essential. This is because citrus fruits—and actually better yet, kiwis, sweet potato, red bell peppers, kale, and broccoli—are rich in potent anti-oxidants, namely vitamin C, which act as an overall sickness tonic. If you take supplements, 200 milligrams a day is optimal to provide immune-boosting effects. Anything more will be flushed down the toilet.
3. Beef up with Protein. Protein is a necessary part of overall system maintenance and bolstering your immune defences. Lean proteins such as poultry and legumes are best. Try to incorporate at least one portion of dense protein per day into your diet: five to seven ounces of lean meats or one to two cups of beans. In addition to protein, beans give you a boost of immune-supporting iron.
4. Sunbathe. Some say summer tanning carries some health risks, but it also boosts your immune system and cancer-fighting abilities! Vitamin D is critical to wake-up the less active, disease-fighting T-cells in order to evade invading germs. Indulge in fortified milk and cereals during the dark Canadian winters to keep your stocks of vitamin D high.
5. Indulge in ‘E’. As the untold hero of immune health, vitamin E activates a different kind of immune cell, the natural killer (NK) cell, which acts as the search party of the immune system. NK cells seek out cancer cells and germs, and actively destroy them. Found mostly in fatty fishes, vitamin E can also be taken as a supplement at 100-400mg a day.
Bioflavonoids create a super-barrier to your cells. This prevents nasty germs and pollutants from latching onto your cells and slowly eating away at the normal protective barrier in order to launch an attack from the inside. How can you get these? By eating your fruits and vegetables, and drinking hot black or green teas.
7. Eat Smelly Garlic. A double whammy: garlic both scares away your diseased friends from getting too close, and simultaneously enhances the proliferative capacity of immune cells and their activity. The smellier the garlic the better! The sulfur-containing compounds of garlic and onions are the main source of its action.
8. Mushrooms? Yes, mushrooms enhance the production of cytokines—little molecules that coordinate and activate the action of those immune cells.
9. Go Spicy. Now is the best time to enjoy that runny-nose-provoking Indian food! Chilis, hot mustard, pepper, radishes, and garlicky substances are also known as mucolytics as they mobilize mucous. This not only makes for an embarrassing eating experience full of sniffles, but also prevents the build-up of germs in the mucous layers of your nose and throat.
10. Ginger. Ginger potently and specifically targets viruses that instigate the common cold, and suppresses coughing. It is also anti-bacterial, anti-septic, and basically anti-anything-that-makes-you-sick. Boil some of this tangy root in water to enjoy a home-brewed cup of health!