A strong immune system helps the body fight off foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, which can cause colds and other illnesses. A healthy immune system can also help prevent chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends that you eat a healthy diet to help boost the immune system, and he highlights several foods he calls "natural immunity boosters."
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Mushrooms for Antioxidants
Dr. Oz recommends Japanese mushrooms as an immune booster because of their antioxidants, especially ergothioneine, which remains intact even after cooking. Researchers at Penn State University have determined that all mushrooms are a potent source of this antioxidant metabolite, which can provide cellular protection throughout the body. Exotic mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, and oyster, have the highest concentration of ergothioneine, but even more commonly consumed mushrooms like portabella or button mushrooms are also a good source.
Cruciferous Vegetables and Avocados for Immunity Organs
Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are known for their cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates. Dr. Oz advises eating any cruciferous vegetables for their ability to support the liver, the body’s major detoxification organ, and to help it to flush out toxins. He also recommends that you eat one serving of avocado, or about one half cup each day, for their healthy fats, which help balance adrenal hormone production. The adrenal glands are another important immunity organ because some of the hormones they produce suppress inflammation and help regulate the body’s response to stress.
Ginger for the Lymphatic System
Ginger is a rhizome, and has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years. It’s commonly used to help digestion and treat upset stomach and can be sauteed and added to meals, or brewed into a tea. A healthy digestive system is essential to prevent diseases from taking root in the body, according to Ayurvedic traditions. It’s suggested that ginger may also help break down toxins and help cleans the lymphatic system, which drains toxins and pathogens from the body.
Black Currants for Immune Response
Black currants are small dark colored berries, which are a good source of vitamin C and the antioxidant compounds anthocyanins. Dr. Oz recommends eating black currants for their vitamin C content, and because they may help improve night vision. In addition, black currants may be protective against some forms of cancer. A study published in 2010 in "Natural Product Communications" found that the antioxidant rich black currant fruit skin suppressed the growth of human liver cancer cells.