Foods to Strengthen Immune System By Liz Applegate, Ph.D.

There is so much sickness going around right now and you are just picking your triathlon training back up to start off your 2013 off right, you have big goals, PRs, new distances to cover, now is not the time to get sick. Colds and the flu can wipe you out for days which is just not what you need when you are beginning your training program. Do what you can to fight off these sicknesses and eat foods full of nutrients that will help boost your immune system.

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on the bike

Certain foods can help combat the common cold and flu.
Nothing can sideline your training like a bad cold or the flu, and both run rampant this time of year. But your immune system has a complex network in place to keep you healthy–if you fuel it well. When a pathogen invades, white blood cells (called macrophages) engulf the virus, prompting B cells and killer T cells to attack it. This response leads to the creation of other cells designed to destroy the same virus if it shows up at a later date. But just a few nutritional missteps can weaken your body’s response. That’s why it’s important to eat foods that provide the nutrients your body needs to shore up your defenses.

Almonds
Almonds are packed with an immune-boosting duo (vitamin E and manganese), providing 37 percent of your daily need for both in one ounce. Many runners’ diets tend to be low in these nutrients, and studies show that not getting enough can weaken immune cells’ initial charge on pathogens.
Eat It: Top cereal and yogurt with chopped almonds, or add to salads and rice.

Canned Salmon
A three-ounce serving supplies more than 100 percent of your daily need for vitamin D. This nutrient keeps a wide variety of immune cells in working order; not getting enough can put you at risk for infection. Salmon also provides protein and omega-3s that boost immune-system strength.
Eat It: Mix with chopped celery, parsley, and a touch of olive-oil mayo; stuff into a whole-wheat pita for a quick recovery meal.

Collard Greens
Collards pack 45 percent of your daily folate need in one cooked cup. This B vitamin helps generate immune cells every time your body gears up to fight a pathogen. Com-pounds called glucosinolates calm inflammation caused by killer T cells, helping you feel better when you do get sick.
Eat It: Sauté or steam for a side; stir into soup; or add raw leaves (not stalks) to salads.

Kefir
Healthy gut microbes make up a hefty portion of your body’s defenses against unwanted pathogens. Kefir provides a dozen strains of good-for-you bacteria that literally build a barrier in your intestinal tract against unwelcome bugs, and improve immune-cell function.
Eat It: Add to pancake batter, mashed potatoes, and soups. Or make a recovery smoothie

Steel-Cut Oats
Oats contain a fiber called beta-glucan, which bolsters macrophage and killer T cells’ ability to fight off infections. In one study, lab mice given beta-glucan for 10 days had fewer upper-respiratory infections after running on the treadmill compared to mice that didn’t receive the supplement.
Eat It: Steel-cut oats take longer to cook than other varieties, so make a large batch and freeze leftovers.

Wheat Germ
Two tablespoons contain 60 calories and pack a variety of nutrients (such as vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and zinc) crucial for supporting immune cells. Zinc in particular acti-vates T cells to attack virus- or bacteria-infected cells.
Eat It: Sprinkle on frozen or regular yogurt and oatmeal. Toss into casseroles. It’s also a tasty addition to quick breads and baked fruit desserts.

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One response to “Foods to Strengthen Immune System By Liz Applegate, Ph.D.

  1. This is good advice. I’m just getting over a month of sickness and need all the help I can get to boost myself and get back training properly.

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