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3 Foods to Fight Off the Flu and Boost Your Immune System

It’s true you can eat your way to health if you know how to do it, and MSN/Today suggests three cold-fighting foods to boost your immune system. Pink grapefruit, hemp seeds and mushrooms are on the list, and each has its own immune-boosting features.

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For example, pink (as opposed to white) grapefruit is packed with vitamins C and A; hemp seeds provide 20 percent of the recommended daily value of zinc; and mushrooms have antiviral properties.

The good news is a healthy immune system can counteract sources of stress in your body, including pathogens that make you sick, so eating a variety of foods that contain certain vitamins and antioxidants can go a long way toward boosting your immune system.

Three more foods that will rev you up and keep you going include:

1. Those packed with vitamin A, such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, organic pastured eggs and grass fed beef.

2. Anything that boosts your vitamin D intake when you can’t get out in the sun (the best way to get your “D”), such as raw grass fed milk, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and organic pastured eggs.

3. Other vitamin C-rich foods such as tangerines, limes, leafy greens, bell peppers and broccoli. Berries are another great source, and they all provide this and other potent antioxidants, which support your immune response and help to rebuild collagen.

There also are foods you want to avoid — beginning with sugar — because they compromise your immune system and weaken your gut health. Three things to avoid if you want to keep your immune system healthy include:

1. Processed foods of any kind — Plain and simple, processed foods hurt your immune system. Diets loaded with processed lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased for allergies and even increased risks for cancer.

2. Sodas, sugared or artificially sweetened — Soda consumption, even sugar-free soda, not only packs on pounds rather than helping you lose, but does nothing to help maintain your immune system.

3. Genetically engineered foods — Studies from both the U.S. and the U.K. suggest a majority of people fail to get certain key vitamins and minerals from food alone. Topping this list are vitamins D, E, A, C, magnesium and calcium.

Since most GE foods tend to be loaded with the herbicide glyphosate (used on most conventional and genetically engineered food crops), and glyphosate has been shown to interfere with enzymes responsible for activating vitamin D in your liver and kidneys, skipping GE foods will help you metabolize immune-boosting vitamin D.

Eating locally grown foods that are in season is better nutritionally because foods that are picked at peak ripeness and placed on shelves quickly retain the optimal amount of nutrients compared to foods shipped from long distances.

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