Free radicals are the main cause of breakdown in the immune system. Free radicals damage healthy cells by causing cell mutations which can lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Fortunatley, some foods contain antioxidants, which can destroy these free radicals.
The strongest, and most well known of these antioxidants are vitamin C and vitamin E. Vitamen C can boost the immune system to aggressively react on cancer cells. Diets high in this nutrient are linked to reduced risks for stomach, breast, prostate and other cancers. Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits such as oranges and amalaki, peppers, cantaloupes broccoli. Vitamin E this helps to slow down the symptoms of aging and strengthen body cells that fight infection. People who eat foods rich in vitamin E have an added weapon against bacteria and viruses' it also helps in the fight against heart disease and cancer. G ood food sources for vitemin E are whole grain foods and vegetable oils. Supplements are recommended to reach the daily requirement of both vitamin C and E. Check with your doctor on the dose.
Another excellent source of protection against disease is the antioxidant carotenoids. Carotenoids help to strengthen the immune system by producing lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells important to fighting infection. The best sources for carotenoids are the red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, cantaloupes, pumpkin, etc. and leafy green foods. The four important carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
The immune system also gains strength from minerals such as zinc, iron, and selnium. Zinc increases the number of lymphocytes and helps fight cancer. Whole grains are a good source of zinc. Iron, helps fight infection and strengthens overall immunity. Meats, dried beans and tofu are good sources of iron. Selenium helps to increase the number of antibodies and encourages growth of immune cells. Food sources are fish, grains and nuts.
A low fat diet is very important for a strong immune system. Excess fat hampers the ability of the body to fight off bacteria and free radicals. Lowering fat in the diet can be accomplished by limiting the intake of fatty foods and making low fat and low calorie meal substitutions.
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