Foods that increase your healing potential
As part of my preparation for our talk on MAXIMIZING YOUR BODY'S HEALING DEFENSES, I turned to Dr. Google to research foods that increase our immune function. Of course there are varying views, but it is generally agreed that the foods listed below can help you fight the good fight. Of course, eating these foods is no substitute for the things discussed in our previous article. All the oranges in the world won't help you if you aren't getting adequate sleep...
Citrus fruits: These are rich in Vitamin C, which tops the chart as a necessary ingredient to keep your immune system running at 100 percent. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Because your body doesn't produce or store it, daily intake of vitamin C is essential for continued health.
Red Bell Peppers: ??!? Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits, as well as being a rich source of beta carotene.(see Sweet Potatoes below).
Yogurt with probiotic: (live and active cultures) A Swedish study found that a group taking probiotics had 33% less sick days than a control group.
Garlic: The active ingredient is allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold! Other studies suggest that those consuming more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer. Optimal intake according to one source– 2 raw cloves a day!
Oats & Barley: These contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea. Oats or barley should be one of the grains consumed in your daily diet.
Mushrooms: "Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection," says Douglas Schar, Director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch- experts recommend at least ¼ ounce to 1 ounce a few times a day for maximum immune benefits.
Broccoli: is supercharged with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all!
Sweet potatoes: To stay strong and healthy, your skin (part of your immune defense) needs vitamin A. "Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin," explains David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Foods containing beta-carotene (like sweet potatoes), will metabolize into vitamin A. Other foods rich in beta-carotene: carrots, squash, canned pumpkin, and cantaloupe.
Almonds: When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, especially almonds, are packed with it. A half-cup serving, (about 46 whole, shelled almonds), provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.
Sunflower seeds: are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. They're also incredibly high in vitamin E, with 82 % of the daily recommended amount in just a 1/4-cup serving. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function.
Beef: Zinc deficiency is a common nutritional shortfall among North American adults, especially in vegetarians and those who've cut back on beef. Zinc is an immunity-bolstering mineral and even mild zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. If you're not a beef person, you will find zinc in oysters, fortified cereals, pork, poultry, yogurt, or milk.
Tea: Black Tea People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that's responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—decaf versions have it, too. The optimal dose is several cups daily! Apparently, you can get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags by bobbing them up and down while you brew.
Green Tea: As well as L-theanine, green tea also contains epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG while Green tea is steamed and not fermented, preserving the EGCG. So green tea is even better than black tea, though both are good for you.
And finally, are you ready for this? Mother wasn't wrong...
Chicken soup! University of Nebraska researchers tested 13 brands of chicken soup and found that all but one (chicken-flavored Ramen noodles) blocked the migration of inflammatory white cells. This was an important finding because cold symptoms are a response to these cells accumulation in the bronchial tubes. The amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug Acetylcysteine. This may explain the results. The soup's salty broth keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. Added spices, such as garlic and onions, can increase soup's immune- boosting power. Also, poultry is high in vitamin B-6. (100 g of turkey or chicken contains 40- 50% of your daily recommended amount of B-6). Vitamin B-6 is involved in many of the chemical reactions that happen within the body and in the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Stock or bone broth, which is produced by boiling chicken bones, contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.
These foods will do amazing things to boost your immune system. However, as I said at the workshop, if you put jet fuel into an old broken down car, it isn't going to turn that vehicle into a racing car! We need to optimize our body's own healing potential by fine tuning our nervous systems- as well as supporting it with proper nutrition. Make sure you stay regular with chiropractic care during Colds and Flu season!