Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

Lactic Acid Bacteria Can Protect Against Influenza A Virus

Lactic acid bacteria, commonly used as probiotics to improve digestive health, can offer protection against different subtypes of influenza A virus, resulting in reduced weight loss after virus infection and lower amounts of virus replication in the lungs, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Influenza virus can cause severe respiratory disease in humans. Although vaccines for seasonal influenza viruses are readily available, influenza virus infections cause three to five million life-threatening illnesses and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide during epidemics. Pandemic outbreaks and air transmission can rapidly cause severe disease and claim many more human lives worldwide. This occurs because current vaccines are effective only when vaccine strains and circulating influenza viruses are well matched.

Influenza A virus, which infects humans, birds and pigs, has many different subtypes based on hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins on the surface of the virus. There are 18 different HA and 11 different NA subtype molecules identified, which indicates numerous HA and NA influenza virus combinations. As a result, it’s important to find ways to provide broad protection against influenza viruses, regardless of the virus strain.

Fermented vegetables and dairy products contain a variety of lactic acid bacteria, which have a number of health benefits in addition to being used as probiotics. Studies have found some lactic acid bacteria strains provide partial protection against bacterial infectious diseases, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, as well as cold and influenza viruses.

This study investigated the antiviral protective effects of a heat-killed strain of lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus casei DK128 (DK128), a promising probiotic isolated from fermented vegetables, on influenza viruses.

Mice pretreated with DK128 intranasally and infected with influenza A virus showed a variety of immune responses that are correlated with protection against influenza virus, including an increase in the alveolar macrophage cells in the lungs and airways, early induction of virus specific antibodies and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and innate immune cells. The mice also developed immunity against secondary influenza virus infection by other virus subtypes. The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“We found that pretreating the mice with heat-killed Lactobacillus casei DK128 bacteria made them resistant to lethal primary and secondary influenza A virus infection and protected them against weight loss and mortality,” said Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, lead author of the study and professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State. “Our results are highly significant because mice pretreated with DK128 had 100 percent survival and prevention of weight loss. This strain of lactic acid bacteria also equipped mice with cross-protective immunity against secondary lethal infection with influenza virus. Protection against influenza virus infection was not specific to a particular strain of influenza.

“Our study provides evidence that heat-killed lactic acid bacteria could potentially be administered via a nasal spray as a prophylactic drug against non-specific influenza virus infections.”

The researchers pretreated mice intranasally with heat-killed DK128 and then infected them with a lethal dose of influenza A virus, subtype H3N2 or H1N1. Mice pretreated with a low dose of DK128 showed 10 to 12 percent weight loss, but survived the lethal infection of H3N2 or H1N1 virus. In contrast, mice pretreated with a higher dose of heat-killed DK128 did not show weight loss. Control mice, which were not pretreated with DK128, showed severe weight loss by days eight and nine of the infection and all of these mice died.

Mice that received heat-killed lactic acid bacteria (DK128) prior to infection had about 18 times less influenza virus in their lungs compared to control mice.

Next, the researchers tested protection against secondary influenza virus infection by infecting pretreated mice with a different influenza A subtype from their primary virus infection. For the secondary virus infection, mice were exposed to H1N1 or rgH5N1.

The study’s results suggest that pretreatment with lactic acid bacteria, specifically DK128, equips mice with the capacity to have protective immunity against a broad range of primary and secondary influenza A virus infections.

Co-authors of the study include Drs. Yu-Jin Jung, Young-Tae Lee, Vu Le Ngo, Eun-Ju Ko and Ki-Hye Kim of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State; Drs. Young-Hee Cho, Sung-Moon Hong, Cheol-Hyun Kim of Dankook University; Drs. Ji-Hun Jang and Joon-Suk Oh of Tobico Inc.; Dr. Min-Kyung Park of Chungwoon University and Dr. Jun Sun of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Defense.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Georgia State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.   December 13, 2017

Journal Reference:
Yu-Jin Jung, Young-Tae Lee, Vu Le Ngo, Young-Hee Cho, Eun-Ju Ko, Sung-Moon Hong, Ki-Hye Kim, Ji-Hun Jang, Joon-Suk Oh, Min-Kyung Park, Cheol-Hyun Kim, Jun Sun, Sang-Moo Kang. Heat-killed Lactobacillus casei confers broad protection against influenza A virus primary infection and develops heterosubtypic immunity against future secondary infection. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8


Leave a comment

Oil Of Oregano Benefits: 11 Things To Know About Oregano Oil

Most of us would take just about anything if we thought it might keep us healthy during cold and flu season. It turns out that there’s some evidence to suggest that an herb you likely have in your kitchen might be able to help stave off sickness this winter.

Some natural health enthusiasts promote oregano oil as a means to fight cold and flus, keep your digestive tract healthy, and soothe problem skin. But is there any science behind the hype? Here are the 11 things you should know about oregano oil this winter.

Oregano Oil Facts

Yes, it’s from the herb: Oregano oil is, as the name implies, oil from the oregano herb that is extracted by steam distillation. Or at least from an oregano herb — there are more than 40 varieties of the plant. According to Alive, the oil from Oreganum vulgare is believed to hold the most therapeutic benefit.

Stuffed up? You may find some relief by adding a couple drops of oregano oil to a diffuser or vapourizer and inhaling for a few minutes. Drinking a few drops of oil in juice or water may also provide some relief from a sore throat.

It’s also used for GI problems: Because there’s some evidence that oil of oregano has anti-fungal or antiviral properties, it’s thought to be helpful for some gastrointestinal issues. One small study showed that treatment with oregano oil may be useful for parasite infections, but further study is needed.

It could have anti-fungal properties: Some studies have shown that in lab cultures, oregano oil puts up a strong fight against Candida albicans, the bacteria that causes the fungal infection candida. Other research found it may have a similar effect against the mold fungis Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger. However, similar studies haven’t yet been done in human subjects.

You can use it on your skin: It’s thought that oregano oil is helpful for skin conditions like cold sores, muscle aches, nail fungus, joint pain, and dandruff. Try diluting it with a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond, or grapeseed, at 10 to 12 drops oregano oil per ounce of carrier oil. However, don’t use oregano oil on broken or sensitive skin, as it can be irritating. There is some anecdotal evidence suggestions that it may be effective for treatment of psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition, but no published research yet.

It’s a natural insect repellent: Oil of oregano contains many compounds, and one of them is carvacrol — a natural insect repellent. This compound is also found in plants like mint and thyme. Try putting a few drops of oil on outdoor furniture — test first on an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t stain — or apply a dilution of it to unbroken skin when heading outdoors.

It may help in the fight against antibiotic resistance: Some people believe that we can stave off antibiotic resistance by turning to natural solutions like oregano oil more often. One lab test in 2001 found that oregano oil was effective in killing staphylococcus bacteria, and another published laboratory study out of the UK found that it showed effectiveness against 25 different bacteria.

It tastes terrible: Don’t expect that you’ll enjoy taking oregano oil, even if you love Greek food. It has a much more potent taste in oil form, so be prepared!

Be careful: Because oregano oil in its pure form is so strong, it should only be used when diluted; try a ratio of one part oregano oil to three parts carrier oil, such as olive oil. Undiluted oregano oil can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. It is also possible to purchase diluted oregano oil.

It’s meant for short-term use: In Alive, clinical herbalist Michelle Lynde recommends using oregano oil for acute conditions, by taking four to six drops at a time for seven to ten days.

It’s not for everyone: The therapeutic use of oregano oil should be avoided in infants and children, and pregnant or nursing women. It also should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or a heart condition. It’s always a good idea to talk to your preferred medical professional before starting a new wellness routine, and to disclose your use of alternative therapies in case of counter-indications with other medications or treatments.

 11/14/2013   Terri Coles   The Huffington Post Canada
 


Leave a comment

Vitamin D Can Protect Against Colds, Flu, Study Suggests

Taking extra vitamin D can protect against colds, flu and other respiratory infections, said a study Thursday which reopened a debate on the usefulness of over-the-counter supplements.

A review of 25 clinical trials in 14 countries, some with conflicting results, yielded “the first definitive evidence” of a link between vitamin D and flu prevention, researchers claimed in The BMJ medical journal.

The effects were strongest for people with very low levels of the nutrient which is found in some foods and can be synthesised by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.

Many people, especially in grey, cloudy climes, do not have enough vitamin D.

Scientific studies over the years have delivered contradictory conclusions on the topic.

Some have shown that low levels of the vitamin increase the risk of bone fractures, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and death.

Others said there is no evidence of a link to disease risk.

For the new study, researchers from the Queen Mary University of London conducted the biggest-ever survey of trials involving nearly 11,000 people.

Sunshine
Vitamin D is found in some foods and can be synthesized
by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.

And they found clues as to why supplements seem to work in some trials but not in others.

“The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely-spaced doses,” lead researcher Adrian Martineau said in a statement.

‘Undeniable’

Vitamin D is thought to protect against respiratory infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia, by boosting levels of antibiotic-like peptides in the lungs, said the team.

This fits with an observation that colds and flu are more common in winter and spring, when vitamin D levels are lowest.

It may also explain why vitamin D seems to protect against asthma attacks, they said.

In an editorial published with the study, experts Mark Bolland and Alison Avenell said it should be viewed as a hypothesis in need of scientific confirmation.

Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, shared their caution.

“This study does not provide sufficient evidence to support recommending vitamin D for reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections,” he said via the Science Media Centre in London.

Other observers were more optimistic.

The case for universal vitamin D supplements, or food fortification, “is now undeniable,” concluded Benjamin Jacobs of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

AFP     Thursday, February 16, 2017


1 Comment

How to Avoid Getting Sick When Everyone Around You Already Is

It happens every year. The holidays approach, the weather cools, and just as the season really begin to get busy, you begin to feel sick. We all know the feeling: fatigue, headache, sore throat, low energy. Why does the winter seem to be married to illness?

The answer, according to Dr. Anthony Lyon with the Ash Center in New York, is a combination of overtiring our bodies at the exact time we ask them to battle the cold weather. And when you add the element of enclosure—more people are cooped up together in the winter months, germs spreading as the heat blasts—well, it’s a sure recipe for sickness.

So how can you protect yourself when everyone at the office is catching the flu? The trick isn’t to avoid the ill, but to focus on priming your body to fight off any pending sickness that may be sneezed your way.

In addition to eating well (come on, leafy greens!) and avid hand-washing, Dr. Lyon offers tips for staying well, even when you seem to be the only one.

Breathe better. Lyon suggests you battle exhaustion—a leading cause of illness—by improving the way you breathe. Lyon notes that improper breathing can impact the 5 main reasons why you feel tired: sleep disruption; overwhelming stress or anxiety; gastrointestinal upset and suboptimal digestion; immune system dysregulation; and chronic neck and low back pain.

So how can you breathe better?

“When asked to take a deep breath, most people bow out their chest, lift their shoulders to their ears and breathe in a  very vertical manner,” says Lyon. “This is the style we have adopted after years of reacting to challenging situations, including physical or emotional trauma. But, by breathing like this, you are actually perpetuating a sense of fear and unrest by sending a signal to your brain that you are in ‘flight or fight’ mode. Instead, expand your abdomen when you inhale and make it look like a pregnant belly, which engages your diaphragm, and dissipates turmoil by telling your vagus nerve that all is fine and it is okay to rest, relax and digest.” Lyon explains that when you can rest, relax and digest, you give your body the best chance to restore and recover, and protect itself from germy invaders.

flu-cold-sneeze

Move your muscles. Lyon promotes movement as a surefire way to stay healthy. And while any physical activity is great for keeping your systems moving, Lyon says that weight training to build stronger muscles can help ward off winter illness. “We are only starting to learn all of the health benefits that strong muscle confers, including its role as an endocrine gland,” says Lyon. “Muscles secrete proteins, hormones and other vitally important messenger molecules that send signals to direct essential activities elsewhere. Keep your muscle happy so your immune system will be primed and ready to go.”

Adjust your bedtime. We all know catching enough zzzs can help us feel rested and give our body ample time to fight potential illness. But Lyon stresses it’s not just how much you sleep (aim for 7-8 hours), but when. Lyon recommends falling asleep by 10pm at the latest. “By going to bed at a decent hour, your sleep will be physiologic – which means it is congruent with your body’s normal functioning. Right around 10pm is when certain organs need to start the housekeeping work to prepare you for the next day, including your brain, which needs to detoxify from the day you just had. When you stay up late, the housekeeping cannot be completed, leaving you fatigued the next day.” If you have a ton of tasks on your to-do list, Lyon says you’ll be better off turning in at a decent time and waking up early.

By: Zoe Eisenberg          November 16, 2016          @ZoEisenberg

 

source: www.care2.com


1 Comment

This ONE Ingredient Can Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain. – WebMD

“Research shows that ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level.”

A positive development in the world of medicine is the willingness of medical professionals to experiment with natural remedies. Despite technological advancements and cutting-edge pharmaceuticals, some of the most effective medicines can be found right in our local grocery store.

The typical American diet disproportionally includes sugar, sodium and other additives that wreak havoc on our body. This is partially due to the fact that, through advances in food science, we’ve accepted convenience at the expense of what our body really needs: a natural, healthy diet.

Fortunately, enough research now exists that proves the effectiveness of everyday foods. One of those foods is ginger – a sweet and spicy ingredient that also happens to benefit our health in a number of ways. In addition to the great taste, ginger is a nutritious and exceptionally versatile ingredient.

Arthritis is one of the most prevalent ailments in society today. A painful and degenerative condition, arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints. This inflammation adversely affects mobility and causes often debilitating physical pain. The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, has a tendency to get worse with age as natural wear and tear of the body takes its toll.

It’s this inflammatory response where ginger truly demonstrates its medicinal properties. One of the leading arthritis organizations, the Arthritis Foundation, promotes ginger as a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient. The organization’s website cites a study by the University of Miami that suggests ginger supplementation as a natural substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). In the study of 247 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, those given a highly concentrated dose of ginger extract “reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo.”

One of the study’s lead researchers states that “Ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant activities, as well as a small amount of analgesic (pain reduction) property.” In other words, it is ginger’s ability to counteract inflammation and pain that makes the spice a particularly potent medicinal alternative. This is certainly positive and welcome news for the millions of people who suffer from pain and inflammation from arthritis and other ailments.

ginger

As mentioned, ginger is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be consumed in a number of different forms. The Arthritis Foundation notes that choosing an effective form of ginger is essential to experiencing the most powerful effects from its medicinal properties. Specifically, the organization recommends choosing supplements that use “super-critical extraction,” a process that results in the purest ginger. This process also provides the greatest medicinal effects of any ginger delivery method.

That said, there are a number of ways to incorporate ginger into your diet. Many people add ginger to fresh juices and everyday food. Favorite foods and beverages to include ginger as an ingredient are: carrot ginger lentil soup, stir fry, ginger berry smoothies, salad, split pea soup, kale juice, homemade ginger ale, ginger cookies and candy ginger.

Aside from ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties, the spice also serves other medicinal purposes. Research has shown that ginger can relieve the pain caused by headaches, menstrual cramps, and other injuries. Some research has even documented that the potency of ginger’s anti-inflammatory and pain reduction benefits exceeds that of painkillers and other drugs.

GINGER ALSO HELPS:

– Fight cancer. Studies show that ginger may help to kill cancer cells. Promising research exists that specifically shows ginger’s powerful counteractive effects in breast cancer patients.

– Aid digestive processes and reduce bloating. Ginger tea and ginger ale drinkers have known this for quite some time. The ingredient contains certain compounds that counteract digestive discomfort while improving digestive processes – both of which help to ward off and reduce bloating.

– Prevent and aid motion sickness. A plethora of research exists that notes ginger’s counteractive effects on nausea and vomiting. For this reason, ginger ale and other ginger beverages are a favorite for those that suffer from motion sickness.

– Prevent sickness. As an anti-viral, ginger is effective in reducing the likelihood of illness. At minimum, consuming ginger during cold and flu months should be considered as a viable alternative.


3 Comments

Learn How To Fight The Flu With Nature’s Secret Weapon, Vitamin D

By Adam Pegg    November 27, 2013

Tis’ the season of the pesky flu that can potentially ruin a whole week of your good health. There are a few well known ways to protect yourself from this nuisance, like washing your hands, getting vaccinated, and getting sleep. Now let’s take it a step further. I wrote this article so that you can learn how to fight the flu with nature’s secret weapon, vitamin D.

Vitamin D is most commonly known for it’s ability to help the body absorb calcium and build strong bones. That’s why most of the milk supply in the United States is fortified with it.

A lesser known fact is that vitamin D helps to activate the immune system. Without enough vitamin D intake, the T-cells, which play an important role in dismantling foreign invaders, are left dormant.

vitamin D

So Where Do I Get This Stuff?

Well, it’s really as simple as walking outside for 10 minutes with a descent amount of skin showing. Your body can create its own vitamin D, but it must be activated by contact with the sun for that to happen.

Being exposed to the midday summer sun for about 10 minutes has been recorded to produce up to 10,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D in the body. That might be a slight incentive to workout outside a couple days a week, and wait a few minutes to lather up with sunscreen……but I just realized, there’s one convenient problem (as with just about everything in life).

Flu season is in the fall/winter. Unless you’re living in the wonderful sunny state of Florida, finding quality vitamin D producing sunlight will probably be hard to come by. In a lot of places up north it would probably be pretty uncomfortable to walk around with a T-shirt and shorts on!

The solution is to get vitamin D through your diet. An Australian study over two years discovered that people who took 2,000 IU of a vitamin D supplement decreased their chances of getting sick.
You can get vitamin D supplements at many grocery stores and pharmacies. It also comes in natural foods like fatty fishes, so make sure you eat up!


Leave a comment

Creative Immune Boosting

Give seasonal colds and flu the (winter) boot

Don’t be at the mercy of winter’s cold and flu season. A little creative immune boosting, such as massage or a daily dose of laughter, might just keep nasty germs at bay.

Winter—the season of snow, skiing, holidays, and maybe even a little hot cider or wine in front of the fireplace with your loved one. Unfortunately, along with fun and passion, it’s also cold and flu time. Because we’re indoors more in winter, we’re likelier to play pass-the-bug with family, friends, and co-workers.

Nevertheless, we don’t have to avoid others or live outside permanently during winter to stay healthy (though a nice brisk walk or engaging in winter sports does wonders for the mind and body). There are many ways to boost your immune system, making it harder for colds and flu to take up residence.

Magic fingers

Remember the old telephone ad, “Let your fingers do the walking,” which encouraged us to use the Yellow Pages? If you don’t already have a massage therapist, now is a good time to look one up and let their magic fingers do the walking—over your body.

Numerous studies have shown that massage boosts your immune system by

  • increasing the number, kind, and distribution of good white blood cells throughout your body, making it less susceptible to disease
  • reducing inflammation and edema, which can lower the body’s immune system
  • stimulating your brain to release endorphins, producing calm, happy feelings
  • decreasing cortisol, a stress hormone that suppresses your immune system

There are many different types of massage, ranging from gentle stroking to deeper tissue kneading. Speak to your health care practitioner before beginning a massage treatment if you have blood, vein, or bone problems.

  • Aromatherapy massage uses plant-based essential oils on the skin to enhance the healing and relaxing effects of the massage.
  • Lymphatic massage concentrates on improving the flow of lymph, a fluid that helps fight off infection and disease.
  • Shiatsu uses gentle finger and hand pressure on specific body points to relieve pain and enhance the flow of energy (qi) through the body.
  • Swedish massage blends a variety of strokes and pressure techniques for all-over body health.

Laughter is the best medicine

Laughing is good exercise for the body, releasing mood-boosting endorphins, decreasing stress hormones, and increasing the type of white blood cells that fight infection. Scientists may not be the funny people of the world, but their research indicates a good laugh could be another tool in your disease-fighting arsenal.

Studies have investigated self-reported sense of humour, exposure to humorous stimuli, and smiling versus laughing. Computer geeks may be right: laughing out loud (LOL) had the most consistently positive immune-enhancing effect.

Find out what tickles your funny bone. Books. Movies. Silly songs. Sign up for a joke-a-day website and get your morning chuckle delivered right to your mailbox. Surround yourself with people who like to laugh and you’ll find yourself laughing with them.

When it comes to preventing colds and flu, let funny be your friend. Laugh, chuckle, or guffaw yourself healthy.

Sleep: Nature’s remedy

While you don’t have to hibernate to escape cold and flu season, getting enough sleep reduces stress, elevates your mood, and gives your immune system the resources to fight off disease.

If you’re sleep-deprived, your body’s cycle is thrown off and your immune system is disrupted. Even mild sleep deprivation—a couple of late nights—can have an adverse effect by overstimulating white blood cells. The greater and longer the deprivation, the more pronounced the effect and the more difficult it is for your immune system to recover its natural balance.

Aim for seven to eight hours. Sleeping fewer than seven hours makes you three times more likely to get a cold. And don’t count on the flu shot to make up for too many late nights; sleep deprivation can cut the effectiveness of the flu vaccine by 50 percent.

Sweet dreams.

Socialize to stay healthy

Strengthening your social network strengthens your immune system. Good friends keep you feeling connected to others, warding off feelings of loneliness. Researchers have known for years that people with strong social ties are more likely to survive serious illnesses.

Newer studies point to the effects of isolation on your immune system. Loneliness actually changes the immune system on a cellular level, decreasing your body’s ability to fight disease.

Colds and flu are not generally life-threatening, but they’re not a lot of laughs either. Family and friends may accidently pass on a virus, but their social support helps your immune system fight it off. They’re also likely to bring you chicken soup if you do get sick.

If you already have a strong social network, don’t take those people for granted. No matter how busy you are, make time to connect, even if it’s only a short phone call or an email. If you want to build up your circle of friends, take action. Volunteer, enrol in a course, take up a winter sport, or join an interest group to give you something to talk about.

cold

Think positive for better health

The mind-body connection is a two-way street. Being unhealthy can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed, while a negative mental state can lessen your immunity, causing illness. So it’s no surprise that research showed positive people fought off both cold and flu viruses better than those who were anxious, hostile, or depressed.

Rose-coloured glasses? Not necessary. Instead, strive for realistic optimism, which accepts that bad things happen but emphasizes keeping negative thoughts and fears at a manageable level. Staying positive allows your body to be its own doctor—releasing endorphins to cope with pain, gamma globulin to fortify your immune system, and interferon to fight viruses. Negative thoughts short-circuit this process.

The good news is that other immune boosters—sleeping, eating properly, social networking—also help keep you more upbeat, creating a positive feedback loop on the highway to health.

Eat a rainbow

Is it feed a cold and starve a fever or the other way around? Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables daily, and you’ll be less likely to have either. The pot of gold at this rainbow’s end is a stronger-functioning immune system.

Each colour group tends to be high in particular vitamins, antioxidants, and other disease and inflammation-fighting compounds. In general, the darker the colour, the more nutrients. By regularly eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, you’ll get the widest range of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants—tools your immune system needs to keep running at its best.

Orange and yellow

The orange and yellow family owe their colour to beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. Many are also high in vitamin C and folate. Foods in this family include apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, nectarines, butternut squash, carrots, yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits.

Red

The red family aren’t blushing; they’re just filled with lycopene or anthocyanins, heavy hitters on the keep-healthy team. Good choices include strawberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, red peppers, beets, red cabbage, and cooked tomatoes.

Green

The green family get their eco-friendly shade from chlorophyll and may contain other health-enhancing compounds such as lutein, indoles, folate, and vitamin E. Members to munch on include green apples, grapes, limes, spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens, green peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and avocado.

Blue

The blue and purple family are coloured by anthocyanins, powerful protectors of cells in the body. Grab some blackberries, blueberries, raisins, figs, purple grapes, prunes, or eggplant.

White

The white family may not be found on a real rainbow, but they have a place in your daily diet. They get their colour, which ranges from white to brown, from anthoxanthins. Some also contain allicin and potassium. Members in good standing include bananas, onions, parsnips, turnips, jicama, and potatoes. Garlic has long been known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties, while reishi, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms are believed to directly boost immune function.

Supplements that boost immunity

Great! You’re trying your hardest to get massages, laugh, sleep enough, eat properly, surround yourself with friends, and have a positive attitude. But let’s face it: life can get in the way of even the best intentions.

Adding vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements to your diet can help you this cold and flu season—and all year round for that matter. Many of them do double duty, helping your immune system while protecting you from a wide range of other diseases.

A daily multivitamin, especially one that contains selenium, zinc, and magnesium, is a good way to enhance your immune system. Don’t overdo it, however, particularly with vitamins A and E and zinc: too much of even a good thing can be bad, so enjoy the most immunity-boosting benefits by taking the recommended daily dose of these supplements.

Certain herbs and supplements also look promising for increasing immunity. Garlic, ginseng, milk thistle, and astragalus possess protective properties that have been shown to fight viruses and infections. Probiotics—healthy bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium—may also support immune function.

November 28, 2013        Harriet Cooper