The common cold is an ailment that almost everyone has at one time or another. It becomes even more common in the winter, when people tend to gather indoors and are exposed to more germs. There is no cure for colds but there are ways that you can help prevent it and lessen its severity if you do get one.

A healthy diet has many benefits. One that is often overlooked is the fact that it can boost your immune system. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals will give you more energy and help you ward off the cold, the flu and other infections.

What Foods Are Best for the Immune System?

One of the most important things in any diet is balance. You need to eat a variety of foods to keep your immune system in the best possible shape, not just a lot of one or two. Here are some foods that, when eaten as part of an overall healthy diet can improve immune function and help prevent colds and other health problems.

Fruits

Fruits contain a variety of substances that are good for your immune system. One of the most well known of these is vitamin C. Vitamin C increases production of white blood cells and interferon, an antibody that coats cell surfaces and prevents the entry of viruses. Citrus fruits have the most vitamin C but there are lots of other fruits that contain it.

Many fruits such as strawberries, cherries and blueberries are also rich in antioxidants. These nutrients help maintain healthy tissue and repair damage caused by a number of things, one of which is infection. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, as is vitamin E. Not all antioxidants are vitamins.

Vegetables

Most vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. Spinach, parsley and carrots are good sources of vitamin A. Cauliflower and most green vegetables are rich in vitamin K. Turnip and mustard greens have lots of vitamins A and E. Collard greens and squash contain substantial amounts of zinc, which stimulates the immune system.

Carotenoids are also found in carrots and dark red, green and yellow vegetables. Beta carotene is the most recognizable of the carotenoids but there are many more. These work together to boost the creation of infection-fighting cells and are also antioxidants.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Fiber is important because it helps cleanse the body of toxins. This aids in immune function as well as overall health.

Protein

Protein is found in meats, beans and soy products. Protein boosts energy and optimizes the production of cells including those that fight off infection. Fish is a good choice because it is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are also great for the immune system.

A healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent illness including the common cold. Building up your immune system and taking other precautions such as washing your hands regularly could keep you from getting a cold in the first place. If you do get a cold, a healthy diet will give your body the nutrients it needs to fight it off quickly.

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