With all of the hysteria surrounding the swine flu, it’s extremely important to remember that food is powerful medicine, and you can bolster your immune system with the proper diet. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is the body’s best defense against viruses, but there are certain foods that are more powerful than others. Orange-colored foods are rich in glutathione, one of the most powerful immune system boosters and antioxidant. Probiotics, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and other fermented foods keep your gut healthy. 80% of your immune system cells reside in the gut. Special note: probiotics require stimulation by what scientists are now calling  prebiotics. You can satisfy this need by eating a banana every day. Green and/or black tea (five cups/day) boosted virus-fighting chemicals in the blood 10 x that of a group drinking a placebo after only two weeks. Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, which helps boost immunity and increases the efficacy of antibiotics. Garlic, leeks, and onions contain allicin, which fight infection and boost immunity. One clove/day is recommended. Finally, hydrate yourself. Think of your immune system as a garden. If not properly watered, it fails to thrive. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces/day.

Conversely, sodas, nitrates, artificial colors and flavors, sugary snacks, polyunsaturated and trans fats all have a negative impact on your health and immune system. Your body expends so much energy processing these chemicals that it doesn’t have the energy left to fight viruses. Eat well.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.