Health Team

Foods can boost your immunity

Posted January 11, 2010 5:42 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2010 6:29 p.m. EST

Some foods, drinks and spices can help boost people's immunity and give them a better chance to fight off illnesses such as the common cold.

"Foods can absolutely boost your immunity and make you feel better, improve your energy," nutritionist Kerri Glassman said.

That came as welcome news to Elana Szyfer, a busy woman who says she can't afford the time to get sick.

"I have three children, I work full-time, and I travel, so there's not a lot of my own downtime if I get or if I'm tired," Szyfer said.

Szyfer turned to Glassman for advice on on healthy eating. Szyfer said she's learned that boosting her immune system can be as simple as a trip to the grocery store.

Vitamin C helps increase the number of white cells that fight infection. Citrus fruits, strawberries and dark leafy vegetables all have large amounts of vitamin C.

Foods, such as blueberries and honey, and liquids, such as green tea, can help fight what doctors call "free radicals," or cells that damage healthy tissue.

"Free radicals are what I call the bad guys, roaming through our blood system, waiting to be linked to cancer, heart disease, aging and also a lowered immune system," Glassman said.

Dieticians suggest someone with a cold try eating mushrooms and garlic, which can act as decongestants. They also recommend spicing up meals, because some herbs and spices can help perk up immune systems.

"I'm trying to add more spices to food, like basil, some thyme too," Szyfer said.