A strong, well-functioning immune system is the cornerstone of good health, fighting off disease and infections and allowing you to recover more quickly if you do get sick. Give your immune system an extra boost with these quick tips for healthy immunity:
1Eat the colors of the rainbow. It's easy to identify foods with the highest levels of antioxidants - they're often the most colorful. Carrots and sweet potatoes have plenty of beta carotene; bell peppers, strawberries and tomatoes contain vitamin C; tomatoes and watermelon have lycopene; and dark leafy greens like spinach contain lutein. Blueberries have anthocyanins. Red grapes have resveratrol. And the list goes on - so banish the beige.
2Plot out your plate wisely. To lower your cancer risk, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends filling 2/3 or more of your plate with plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans and 1/3 or less with animal proteins, such as lean meat or dairy foods.
3 Eat whole fruits first. Pure fruit juice, although often rich in the same vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting phytochemicals as the whole fruits they're made from, don't contain fiber. Although you may feel full after snacking on an orange, you probably won't after drinking a glass of orange juice, but you'll end up consuming more calories, because juice condenses a fruit's calories into a small amount. A glass of juice here and there won't hurt, but stick with whole fruits first.
What's missing in "dressed-up" juices? Some fruit juices are now fortified with fiber (it's added in the form of a thickening agent called maltodextrin), but you're still missing out on all of the other beneficial compounds whole fruits provide. If it's fiber you're seeking, why opt for processed and bottled when you can enjoy fresh and whole?
4 Crush your cloves. To help garlic retain its cancer-fighting properties, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends this trick: During preparation, crush your garlic instead of mincing it. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before you toss it in the skillet and await that familiar savory fragrance.
5 Get in the grains. Eating plenty of whole grains is important to maintaining healthy immunity; nutrition experts agree at least half of the recommended 6 to 9 servings of grains you should eat every day should be whole grains. Look for the term "whole grain" as the first ingredient when shopping for breads or try some healthy whole grain recipes feature brown rice, quinoa, barley, corn and oats.