Fresh Fruit & Vegtables Boost Your Immune System Naturally
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - Author: Sherry T.
The immune system works to keep your body healthy. White blood cells attack microbes that cause illness. Some microbes are good for the body, but there are bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi everywhere, waiting to make you sick. The human body is the perfect place to set up house and invite all their unwanted friends over for a party. Building a stronger immune system is vital to preventing illness. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet is a good start to a healthier, longer life.
The Sneak Attack of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Against Disease
Naturally boosting your immune system is as easy. Eat at least two servings of fresh fruits and five servings of fresh vegetables every day. The serving sizes are not as large as they sound. One serving equals ½ cup of cooked or 1 cup of raw fruits or vegetables. The benefit of eating small amounts several times a day allows your body to mount a sneak attack on bad microbes. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain the weapons your immune system needs to ward off disease like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer.
Tip: Eat fresh or frozen, not canned or precooked.
What Do Fruits and Vegetables Have the Immune System Needs?
Many of the necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs for a healthy immune system are found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Mostly absorbed through the small intestine, there are a variety and each performs a different function within the body, such as:
- Vitamin C stimulates the creation of white blood cells and gives them the ability to fight an attack on the body.
- Vitamin B6 helps maintain the health of your spleen, thymus and lymph nodes.
- Vitamin E boosts the immune system's role in preventing disease and fighting illness.
- Vitamin D strengthens and prompts bone growth by helping the body absorb calcium.
- Vitamin A helps your immune system's first line of defense, your skin, stay healthy. Works to prevent certain cancers and heart disease.
- Iron helps your blood carry oxygen, helps fight infections and helps prevent anemia.
- Folic acid helps stop changes in cell DNA, which can lead to some cancers.
- Selenium prevents viruses from reproducing inside your body.
- Zinc reduces inflammation, cancer cell growth and strengthens immune molecules.
The good part is, fresh fruits are sweet. They taste wonderful in a variety of combinations and mixed with other foods. Fruit is a wonderful source of water, helping keep you hydrated. If you dislike raw vegetables, using different cooking techniques and spices can change your mind.
Tip: Store some fruits and vegetables at room temperature out of direct sunlight to maintain flavor and integrity.
Not Wild About Eating Fruits and Vegetables?
Adding them to your diet doesn't have to mean tasteless, boring snacks and side dishes. Try a different type of vegetable and fruit each day until you find the ones you like. Experiment with cooking techniques, recipes and mixing different flavors and textures. Throw some blueberries, strawberries or bananas into your pancake or waffle batter or put them in cereal and oatmeal. Add some mushrooms, onions and bell peppers to your eggs for a veggie omelet. Stews and sauces are a good way to add vegetables and fruits to your diet. Making smoothies with vegetables tastes better than you think when you add fresh fruit for sweetness and flavor. One cup of raw salad fulfills a daily dose of veggies, then add oranges and cranberries.
Tip: Steaming, baking, BBQ, frying and stir frying add a variety of flavors and textures.
The Secrets Behind the Bright Colors
We eat with our eyes first. When a snack or a meal looks appealing, we are more likely to enjoy it. The variety of colors in fruits and vegetables means you can create beautiful looking, as well as good tasting, food that will boost your immune system. What do the colors mean?
- Reds are well-known for preventing infections in the urinary system and help with the production of white blood cells.
- Yellows and Oranges are high in vitamin C and have the ability to target the immune systems malfunctions and inflammation that are associated with cancer development. They also boost your immunity to fight colds, the flu and other bugs going around.
- Whites and Greens help prevent cells from mutating and turning into cancer. They also act as antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial and anticarcinogenic agents.
- Purples and Blues help regulate the immune system by increasing anti-inflammatory compounds and strengthening the cells that fight infection.
Use the rainbow of colors to appeal to your visual appetite. Tailor your diet, and eat the ones you find add the most benefits with the best flavors and textures.
Tip: Create different shapes in fruit with cookie cutters for a fun, appetizing display.
The Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables
Both are low in salt, sugar, fat and are a source of natural fiber, but fruits and vegetables are not the same. Fruits are the reproductive part of a flowering plant that contains seeds. Pears, apples, berries, melons, citrus like oranges, grapefruit and lemon are example of fruit. Apricots, plums and peaches are called stone fruits with mangoes and bananas being exotic. Avocados and tomatoes are also a fruit.
A vegetable is the part of the plant you can eat and are grouped in families. Celery and asparagus are examples of edible stems, while spinach, lettuce and silverbeet are leafy greens. Cruciferous are vegetable like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. The marrow family includes veggies like zucchini, cucumbers, squash and pumpkin. Some are roots like carrots, ginger and yams with garlic, shallots and onions being in the Allium family.
Legumes also fit into the category of vegetables and must be cooked to improve their nutritional value. They help in digestion and rid the body of toxins. These are also a good source of protein and can be dried or fresh. Beans and peas are great for soups and side dishes with the evening meal.
Tip: When choosing a mango, pick the ugliest, brownest one. Cut in half, then cube the fruit while still on the rind.
A List of Weird Fruits and Vegetables
We are all familiar with the fruits and vegetables already mentioned, but there are many nutritious ones flying low on the radar. The vast choices of flavors, textures and uses are endless. Try some of these lesser known fruits and vegetables for a bigger variety in your diet.
- Goji Berries
- Monkey Bread
- Bok Choy
- Chili Peppers
- Broad beans
- Butter beans
- Haricot beans
- Red kidney beans
Tip: Smell the spot where the fruit was connected to the plant. The stronger the fruity odor, the riper it is.
The Hunt for Tasty Immune-Boosting Treats
Endless possibilities abound for making fresh fruits and vegetables a part of your diet. Add spinach or kale to a blueberry smoothie with some grapes and apple. The sweet masks the taste of the leafy greens, and you get two nutrients in one. Wrap asparagus with bacon and grill it. With the variety and styles of preparation, the addition of 2 cups of fruit and 2½ to 5 cups of vegetable doesn't seem so daunting.