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Foods to boost your immunity

Host: Janella Purcell
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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Nobody likes to get sick. But when our immune system is low, we are much more likely to catch a nasty bug and it takes longer to fight it off. So what are the best foods to supercharge our immune system?

Our nutritionist, Janella Purcell, recommends the following as the top foods to boost our immunity.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants to protect your cells and are packed with B vitamins and essential minerals to fight off infections. To get the most out of mushrooms, they should be stored in the fridge, eaten soon after purchase, consumed raw or quickly cooked.

Garlic
Garlic is often known as "nature's antibiotic" and for good reason. Garlic contains allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinate, three powerful agents that help the body fight infection. Thiosulfinates and ajoene are antibacterial, and fight a wide variety of infections. Allicin is considered the major natural antibiotic compound.

Just one clove a day will help your immune system fight bacterial, viral and even fungal infections. Garlic also helps to speed up the recovery process if you're sick and lessen the chance of a second infection.

It is best to crush garlic up to 15 minutes before eating it. This will trigger an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds found in garlic.

Beta-carotene foods
Beta-carotene is a yellow-orange carotenoid found in many orange vegetables and fruits. The deep orange or yellow colour of the plant foods indicates that it is rich in beta-carotene. Our body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A which helps prevent against bacterial infections and helps to keep your lungs healthy.

Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene as are capsicums. Bell peppers/capsicums are reputed to have more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C fights infection and a great antioxidant.

Papaw is another great immune-boosting food. Papaw has almost as much vitamin C as oranges, but it's also an excellent source of vitamin A which is perfect for preventing those pesky colds and flus from coming back —vitamin A and C together make an unbeatable combination.

Dark leafy greens
Green leafy veggies like spinach, bok choy, and kale are all immunity winners. Generally, the darker the colour the higher the nutrient level. Dark leafy greens are a rich source of minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron. They are also packed with vitamins A, C and E to protect our cells from damage.


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