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Germ Fighting Food: Nutrient-Rich Foods that Help Build Your Immune Defense

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

With winter here it's the time of year when the windows are closed and the heat is turned up. Unfortunately, when you turn up the heat to keep your family warm you're also creating an incubator for the germs that also make their way into your home. You disinfect all of your surfaces and wash your hands as often as you can, but sometimes the germs still find a way in. Instead of just worrying about the external environment, take some time to bulk up your "internal environment" as well. There are many healthy foods that we already enjoy that can help bulk up your immune system to keep those cold germs from getting you sick.

Mushrooms have many, beneficial health properties, one of which being they help to keep your immune system strong. Many varieties of mushroom, such as crimini mushrooms contain both zinc and copper. Both minerals work to protect and enhance your natural immune system. They are also rich in complex B vitamins, such as B2 and B5. To keep their vitamins and minerals active and viable, the mushrooms should be eaten raw whenever possible.

Salmon and other similar fish also help to keep your immune system healthy. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish help increase your immune system's response rate: tackling colds to help you get better more quickly, if not stopping them from occurring at all. Salmon also supplies a good source of vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.

Brightly colored fresh fruit will keep the usual colds at bay. Many fruits are rich sources of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps increase the strength of your immune system. If you choose fruits that are brightly colored, they will also be high in beta carotene, which is a form of vitamin A. A deficiency in vitamin A can impair the function of your immune system. Stay away from the highly processed forms of fruit, such as canned fruit, as the processing degrades and neutralizes the majority of the natural nutrients.

To include just about all of the above vitamins in one source, bulk up your immune system with plenty of fresh, leafy greens. Leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard, supply an amply amount of vitamins D, K, B1, B2, B6, A and C to keep your immune system powered up. If you pick dark green varieties you will also be covering the all other bases by also including Omega-3 fatty acids. The greens are also a great source for the minerals zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium and copper.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Germ Fighting Food: Nutrient-Rich Foods that Help Build Your Immune Defense

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