Volume 1 Issue 6

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Antioxidants and Your Immune System O Super Foods for Optimal Health Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon. ne of the best ways to keep your immune system strong and prevent colds and flu is to shop the produce aisle. Experts say a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help ward off infections like colds and flu. That's because the foods contain immune-boosting antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage by free radicals. Many experts believe this damage plays a part in a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system. So, fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections. Antioxidants for Immunity: Where to Find Them Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health. But some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are carotenes, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You'll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants eat these foods raw or lightly steamed; don't overcook or boil. Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, oranges, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes. Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach and sunflower seeds. Other super foods that are rich in antioxidants include prunes, apples, raisins, all berries, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant and beans. Vitamins aren't the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that help boost immunity include: Zinc: Found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products. Selenium: Found in brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, and fortified breads and other grain products. Are there Foods that are Bad for My Immune System? Your immune system is not just involved in fighting invaders like bacteria, but also becomes activated when you eat foods to which you are intolerant or allergic. Reactions to allergic foods can be quick, like the anaphylactic reaction often seen with peanut or shellfish allergies, but food allergy reactions can also be delayed and cause a number of symptoms like headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, rashes and other systemic (whole body) effects. The most common allergenic foods include peanuts and shellfish, cow's milk, wheat, and soy; however, everyone is unique in their food intolerances and allergies. Processed foods and foods produced with pesticides or not grown organically may also be problematic for your immune function. Toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury are immunosuppressive. Some pesticides and preservatives can negatively affect the gastrointestinal lining. Page 18 | Abby's Magazine -

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