Here’s how it works: Your immune system is a vast network of organs, proteins and cells – such as skin, bone marrow, blood and mucous tissue – that unite to distinguish healthy cells from those that are not. How? When a germ enters your body, your immune system receives signals that something is wrong. From there, it reacts by sending white blood cells (or immune cells) – your body’s front-line defense – to attack and destroy anything it interprets as risky or dangerous, according to the National Institutes of Health.
You don’t realize how well your immune system works until you come across a really nasty virus that your body may never have treated before. People with weakened immune systems – for example, those with autoimmune diseases such as lupus or serious infections such as HIV, people undergoing chemotherapy or even pregnant women – are at a much higher risk of developing infectious germs that would not be a problem if they were healthy.
Foods that strengthen the immune system
Some foods are rich in nutrients that enhance your body’s ability to repel harmful pathogens. Here are 15 foods to add to your meals:
Probiotics, or live active cultures found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that protect the gut and intestinal tract from pathogenic germs. Although probiotic supplements are available, a study from the University of Vienna in Austria showed that a daily dose of 7 ounces of yoghurt was just as effective at boosting immunity as burst pills. Be sure to choose containers free of excess added sugar. The natural varieties (which you can flavour with cinnamon and fresh fruit) are your best assets, but anything that contains less than 8 grams of sugar in total remains a healthy option.
Your optimal dose: A serving of 7 ounces per day.
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