Your body’s immune system — a network of tissues, protein, cells and organs — works to protect you from infections and disease. If your immune system is strong, you may experience fewer viruses and infections and recover faster from illness. Health conditions, on the other hand, can weaken your immune system. These include serious illnesses, like HIV/AIDS, and lifestyle choices, like inactivity and lack of sleep. A healthy, balanced diet is an effective way to boost your body’s ability to heal.
VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
Vegetables and fruits are prime sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants like vitamins A and C help boost your immune system and promote recovery from illnesses such as colds and the flu. Fruits and vegetables particularly high in antioxidants include berries, cherries, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, kiwi, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and winter squash. Fresh produce, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon, pure juices and broth-based vegetable soups also promote hydration, which can help your body flush away toxins through urine.
FISH AND POULTRY
Fish and poultry are among the top food sources of protein. If you don’t get sufficient protein, it takes longer for your body to recover from injury and illness, and increases your risk of infection. Protein-rich foods are necessary for tissue repair and for maintaining a strong-functioning immune system. Fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna and halibut, provide the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids — essential fats that may help reduce inflammation and promote cardiovascular health. Fish and skinless poultry also provide protein sources that aren’t as high in saturated fat as red and processed meats.
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