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Foods that Boost Immune System Response

Updated on July 29, 2011

There are many things in today’s society that can lead to a breakdown in immune system functioning. Stress, smoke, air pollution, sugar consumption, and ingestion of food preservatives all take their toll on the human body. For people with chronic diseases, this type of cellular damage can be especially devastating, leading to frequent infections and illness. Even otherwise healthy people with a weakened immune response are more susceptible to colds and viruses. These colds are more opportunistic in cooler temperatures.

There are many types of foods that have been shown to boost immune response. Eating foods rich in antioxidants can be of great benefit to people who have been diagnosed as having AIDS or HIV, as well as certain types of cancers. In addition, antioxidants help reverse cellular damage and oxidation caused by stress and other environmental factors, leading to healthier immune systems for everyone. These types of foods can also help people who already have a cold or infection recover more promptly, by revving up the body’s defenses.

Antioxidants have been found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, notably cranberries, blueberries, and pomegranate. Foods that are rich in antioxidants are the most essential for boosting immune system functioning. In addition, researchers have noted that vitamins A, C, and E offer immune system support. It has long been known that vitamin C, either found in supplements or derived from citrus fruits, can help prevent colds. Vitamin E can also be found in foods like walnuts or almonds, as well as many types of fish. Vitamin A is found in fresh fruits and vegetables like carrots and broccoli.

Another type of food that offers substantial protection against viruses and other infectious agents is garlic. Garlic can be taken as a supplement, but it is better absorbed when combined with foods. Fresh garlic offers greater benefit than dehydrated garlic or garlic found in seasonings. Many nutrition experts contend that there is no one magic food for boosting the immune system or preventing infection and disease. Instead, they urge that it is getting the right combination of a variety of foods on a regular basis that is the most important. Adequate nutrition is important to all aspects of our physical health, not just a healthy immune response.

When people are sick, it is common to have increased cravings for carbohydrates and other types of junk food. But these types of foods can further deteriorate an already compromised immune system and even lengthen the duration of an illness. Foods like chicken soup and orange juice may be considered old-fashioned remedies to some, but there is some evidence that suggests that this type of medicine may actually be beneficial, if solely for the nutritional elements found in these types of foods.

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