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Food used as a preventative to disease, to boost immunity, and as an essential part of medicine has been established for over 4000 years by physicians of natural medicine. Food is a major determinant of health that is directly under our control.

We cannot always control pollution, hereditary factors, noise, environment, and the social and emotional behaviors of others, but we can certainly choose what and what not to eat.

I hope that you will pay attention to the principles of food medicine and incorporate this natural and powerful healing component into daily living because anything we do three times a day will have an effect on our body!

Foods that help boost immunity

Acidophilus – The normal, healthy colon contains “friendly” bacteria (85 percent lactobacillus and 15 percent coliform bacteria). It is the friendly bacterial flora found in yogurt and is essential to the digestive system. When these bacteria are not in balance, then the person may experience bloating, flatulence, constipation, and malabsorption of nutrients.

Acidophilus taken as a dietary supplement may help to detoxify and to rebuild a balanced intestinal flora. It is used for the prevention of Candida as well as for treatment. Acidophilus aids the digestion and helps to replace the “friendly” intestinal flora.

Asparagus – Asparagus is spring’s most luxurious vegetable. It was once cultivated for medicinal purposes as a natural remedy for blood cleansing and diuretic properties. Asparagus is rich in immunity-enhancing antioxidants and vitamins. Asparagus can be processed into juice and other products to increase total utilization and increase net value.

Asparagus juice contains antioxidants, such as rutin, ferulic acid, and ascorbic acid. When buying asparagus look for compact tips and smooth green stems that are uniform in color down the length of the stem. Check the cut stem end for drying and avoid withered spears. Asparagus is low in calories and provides substantial amounts of antioxidants – Vitamins A and C. It truly shines as a source of folate and has a goodly amount of fiber.

Black and Green Tea – For years, studies have indicated that the antioxidants in green tea offer protection against diseases, including cancer, and even fight dental cavities. One of the most beneficial of these antioxidants is called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). According to the University of California Wellness Letter, Mar 2002, regular black tea is turning out to be just as healthful as green tea.

The evidence for tea’s health effects comes mainly from lab studies, though some human studies point to possible benefits in preventing heart disease and cancer. EGCG inhibited an enzyme that cancer cells need in order to grow. The cancer cells that couldn’t grow big enough to divide self-destructed. It would take about 4-10 cups of green tea a day to get the blood levels of EGCG that inhibited cancer in the study. Black tea also contains EGCG, but at lower concentrations.

Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries – Antioxidant compounds found in blueberries, sweet cherries, strawberries, and blackberries may fight arterial disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL (”bad”) cholesterol, according to a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.

In studies conducted at the University, Dr. I. Marina Heinonen, a visiting scientist from the University of Helsinki in Finland, and colleagues extracted antioxidant compounds from blackberries, red raspberries, sweet cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. In a series of experiments in laboratory culture dishes, they found that blackberries and Blueberries are of particular interest because of their high antioxidant capacity. They had the most antioxidant activity in one experiment and sweet cherries in another.

Broccoli – Broccoli is known as the “Crown Jewel of Nutrition” for its vitamin-rich, high in fiber, and low in calorie properties. Not only does broccoli give you the best vegetable nutrition available, it also gives you many ways to lead a healthier, longer life. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States with cancer as the second, and broccoli gives you many ways to help fight and prevent these and other diseases.

Broccoli has multiple cancer-fighting properties including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and fiber. It is also rich in phytochemicals which appear to offer us protection against certain cancers and heart disease. Indole carbinol and sulforaphane are two different phytochemicals that are found in broccoli.

Carotenoids – of which beta-carotenes are the most popular, are found in many fruits and vegetables, animals, plants, and microorganisms. The body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat- soluble vitamin essential for vision, growth, cell division, reproduction, and immunity. Among the 600 or more carotenoids in foods, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein are well-known leaders in the fight to reduce the damage from free radicals.

Citrus Fruits – Hundreds of studies have been conducted on the nutrients found in citrus fruit, including orange juice, and the role these nutrients play in reducing the risk of such diseases as cancer and heart disease when part of a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Citrus fruits, which contain essential vitamins and minerals, are an important part of a healthy diet for all men, women,and children. In both fresh and juice form, citrus – including oranges, grapefruit and specialty varieties such a temple oranges, tangerines, and tangelos – have many important nutritional benefits.

Ginger – Warming and antiseptic to the viscera, ginger is used for deficient cold, digestive weakness, diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting, and indigestion. Slice 6-8 pieces of fresh ginger and boil in 2 cups of water. Let this aromatic tea brew for 15 minutes and drink two-three cups a day.

Onion – An important immune booster, diaphoretic, and lubricant for muscles, onions are rich in sulfur compounds called Thiosulfinates. They are anti-inflammatory and contain Vitamin C, Quercetin, and a powerful antioxidant.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – The omega 3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of white blood cells, which consume bacteria. Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection.

Take essential fatty acid supplements, such as flax or fish oil and add additional vitamin E, which works in synergy with essential fatty acids to boost the immune system. An easy way to get your daily dose is to add one to three teaspoons of flax oil to a fruit and yogurt smoothies.

Immunity Boosting TeaCheck out this recipe for an herbal tea that boosts the immune system!

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Andrew Pacholyk
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac. has been in the alternative health field for over 15 years. His knowledge, expertise and clinical training has offered him the ability to experience and continually learn about the body and its energy system in health as well as in disease.