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Foods That Heal Infections

by
author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods That Heal Infections
A variety of nutritious foods promote healing from infections. Photo Credit Minestrone vegetable soup image by Vladimir Melnik from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

The term infection refers to the growth of harmful organisms in the body. In response to an infection, your immune system attempts to protect itself and triggers symptoms such as pain, fever, swelling, skin rashes and itching. Common forms include respiratory infections, such as bronchitis, the common cold and sinusitis, urinary infections and yeast infections. In addition to medical treatments, certain foods may enhance healing and help prevent your symptoms from worsening.

Fluids

Fluids promote hydration and may help your body flush infection-related toxins out through urine. Valuable sources of fluids include water, low-fat milk, fruit and vegetable juices, herbal tea, fresh fruits and vegetables, gelatin and broth-based soups. Cranberry juice, which provides fluid and protective nutrients, may also help reduce urinary tract infection symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Consume cranberry juice and/or other fluids regularly for best potential results. Chilled milk, water, milk shakes and smoothies and frozen popsicles and fruit may help reduce pain and inflammation caused by upper-respiratory and bronchial infections.

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Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain rich amounts of healthy fats and nutrients, including selenium and vitamin E. According to a research review published in the "Journal of Nutrition" in May 2007, deficiencies of selenium and vitamin E have been linked with increased viral infection effects. Thus, increasing your intake of both nutrients may help improve your symptoms. Nuts and seeds particularly high in selenium and vitamin E include Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, mixed nuts and hazelnuts. Oils, such as sunflower oil, and nut butters, such as almond and peanut butter, also contain significant amounts. Since fats promote nutrient absorption, consume nuts and/or seeds with other healthy foods for heightened benefits.

Fish

Fish are some of the top dietary sources of selenium. Fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, flounder, halibut and mackerel, also provide omega-3 fatty acids -- healthy fats that promote positive brain function and heart health and may reduce inflammation associated with urinary tract and other infections. As protein-rich foods, fish also promote tissue repair and immune system function. Since saturated fats may worsen inflammation, use heart-healthy cooking techniques, such as baking, broiling and steaming, most often.

Yogurt and Kefir

Yogurt and kefir are cultured milk products that provide valuable amounts protein, nutrients and probiotics -- healthy, or "friendly," bacteria associated with improved digestive health. Probiotics may help treat infections, according to the University of Michigan Health System, including vaginitis and chronic yeast infections. For maximum probiotic benefits, choose yogurt and kefir that list "live active cultures," such as lactobacillus acidophilus or bifidobacterium, as ingredients.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants -- nutrients that enhance your body's ability to protect itself from infections and disease. While all produce varieties provide benefits, colorful fruits, such as berries, tomatoes and citrus fruits, and vegetables, such as bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens and squash, tend to provide richest antioxidant content. Enjoy fruits and vegetables on their own or as nutritious additions to smoothies, soups, salads and other dishes routinely.

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