Happy New Year! If 2009 was good to you, you’d probably want the same good things and more this year. If you had a so-so year, you’re likely hoping for a better 2010.
Good health will help you start the year right. A healthy immune system will make you more productive by keeping you disease-free and protecting your body from foreign invaders like bacteria, toxins and viruses.
For natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, having a healthy diet composed of real food will help enhance your immune system better than taking a cocktail of health products and supplements, or relying on potentially dangerous vaccines.
Here are 13 foods that Dr. Mercola believes will help boost your immune system:
1. Unpasteurized grass-fed organic milk is a rich source of vitamin A, healthy fats, enzymes, zinc and beneficial bacteria, which helps prime your immune system and can reduce allergies. In addition, raw organic milk is not associated with rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea, cramps or any of the health problems linked to pasteurized milk.
2. High quality whey protein will provide you much of the same health benefits of raw organic milk if you can’t find any in your area. Whey protein also contains beta-glucans and immunoglobulins, which strengthen your immune system and support your body’s natural detoxification processes.
3. Fermented foods like kefir, natto, kimchi, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, unsweetened yogurt and olives are full of beneficial bacteria which have a powerful effect on your gut’s immune system, your first line of defense against pathogens, and aid in the production of antibodies.
4. Raw organic eggs from free-range chickens are an inexpensive and rich source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat. Mercola personally consumes raw eggs because they have been so helpful to his health.
5. Grass-fed beef is rich in vitamins A and E, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, zinc and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), an immune system-enhancing fatty acid which is three to five times higher in grass-fed animals than grain-fed animals. However, based on Dr. Mercola’s Nutritional Typing, this recommendation is only valid if you are a protein or mixed nutritional type as carb types really should not be eating beef.
6. Coconuts and coconut oil are rich in lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid which your body to monolaurin, the compound found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immunity.
7. Locally grown organic vegetables (appropriate for your Nutritional Type), preferably raw, contain more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes than conventionally grown and canned produce.
8. Blueberries and raspberries have a very high in antioxidant capacity compared to other fruits and vegetables. Wild blueberries in particular are potent immune boosters and contain powerful phytochemicals, such as anthocyanin, the pigment responsible for their color. Blueberries are also lower in sugar than many other fruits.
9. Mushrooms help strengthen your immune system because they are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and vitamin D. Like whey protein, mushrooms also contain immune-enhancing beta glucans.
10. Chlorella, a freshwater algae, contains chlorophyll, making it an efficient detoxification agent. Chlorella binds to toxins, such as mercury, and flushes them out of your system. Chlorophyll helps your body process more oxygen, cleanse your blood and promotes the growth and repair of your tissues.
11. Propolis is a bee resin and is considered as one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world by herbal expert Donnie Yance. Propolis is also the best source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important phenolic compounds that aid in immune response.
12. Green tea and Tulsi tea are the two best tea types for protecting your body from microinvaders. Green tea contains natural chemicals called catechins, including epigallocatechin, which was found in one study to be 25 to 100 times more potent than antioxidant vitamins C and E. Tulsi, on the other hand, has been used for thousands of years in India due to its many health benefits with antioxidants, including boosting immunity and enhancing memory, heart health and vision.
13. Herbs and spices are among the foods with the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scores. The higher the ORAC score of a food, the more effective it is at neutralizing free radicals. The less free radicals you have, the healthier you will be.