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10 Foods That Can Boost Your Immune System

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10 Foods That Can Boost Your Immune System

4. Ginger

Ginger is rich in gingerol, a bioactive substance thought to help lower the risk of infections (24).

In fact, ginger has antimicrobial properties that may inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria, including E. coli, Candida and Salmonella (25, 26, 27, 28).

Studies on human cells show that fresh ginger may also help fight the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), a virus responsible for many respiratory infections. However, more studies in humans are needed to support this protective effect (29).

Ginger's effects may be especially potent if the ginger compounds are already present in your body before the infection occurs (29).

Finally, ginger also has anti-nausea effects, which may help decrease your nausea symptoms when you have the flu (30).

More research is needed to determine effective dosage guidelines.

In the meantime, simply add a sprinkle of fresh or dried ginger to your dishes or smoothies. You can also sip on a fresh ginger infusion or use pickled ginger as a probiotic-rich palate cleanser between dishes.

Bottom Line: Making ginger a regular part of your diet may help decrease your risk of infection and reduce nausea symptoms when you're sick.

5. Garlic

Garlic also contains active compounds that may help reduce your risk of infection (31, 32).

For instance, allicin, the main active compound in garlic, is thought to improve your immune cells' ability to fight off colds and the flu (33, 34).

Garlic also seems to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that may help it fight bacterial and viral infections (25, 26, 35).

In one study, participants given a daily allicin supplement experienced colds 63 percent less often than the placebo group. In addition, when they did get sick, participants in the allicin group recovered 3.5 days faster, on average (33).

In another study, participants given a daily aged garlic extract supplement were sick just as frequently as the placebo group. However, they reported 21 percent fewer symptoms and recovered 58 percent more quickly than the placebo group (34).

To maximize garlic's immune-boosting effects, aim to eat one clove two to three times per day.

Crushing the garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes prior to cooking can also help increase its effects (36, 37).

Bottom Line: Consuming two to three cloves of fresh garlic per day may help boost your immune system. Garlic seems particularly effective at reducing the symptoms and duration of the common cold and flu.

6. Berries

For many years, Native Americans have used berries to treat infections like the common cold (38).

This could be because berries are a rich source of polyphenols, a group of beneficial plant compounds with antimicrobial properties.

For instance, quercetin, one berry polyphenol, is thought to be particularly effective at reducing your risk of getting ill after a bout of intensive exercise (39).

Studies also show that berries and their polyphenols have the ability to protect against the influenza virus responsible for the flu (40).

They may even offer a defense against Staphylococcus, E. coli and Salmonella infections (41, 42).

Berries also contain good amounts of vitamin C, which adds to their immune-boosting properties.

Bottom Line: Berries contain beneficial plant compounds that may help reduce your risk of viral or bacterial infections.

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