by: Michael Rosenbaum, MD
With the holidays comes flu season. Because of this, the foods you choose this month can make or break your merrymaking. See, what you eat can impact your immune system health dramatically.
As you’ll soon discover, how you feast this holiday may determine whether you spend a week on the couch fighting the flu . . . or celebrating.
But don’t worry –we’ve got you covered. By getting extra helpings of the 5 immune-supporting foods I mention here, you’ll be giving your immune system the nutrition it needs to do its job right. If you feast right this winter, you’ll keep your defenses strong.
But before we get into the stellar immune foods you load your plate up with, let’s start with something you should go light on . . .
It’s kind of a double whammy . . . Just when the threat of getting sick is at its highest, we get hit with a festive parade of holiday sweets.
Why is this a problem? Sugar drops your immune system down to all-time lows.  It only takes about 75 grams of sugar (about two cans of soda’s worth) to decrease your white blood cells’ ability to attack and destroy invading bacteria. And even worse, these immune-busting effects last for several hours after you eat the sugar.
So perhaps a modest holiday treat here or there is okay. But beware . . . if you don’t exercise some caution with this dangerous sweet stuff, you might find yourself in bed with the flu, unable to enjoy the holidays at all.
Okay, enough said about the bad stuff. Let’s move onto the good stuff, starting with . . .
While we usually associate these cheery berries with fighting urinary tract infections, they also have a mounting pile of evidence behind their immune boosting power. Research conducted at the University of Florida at Gainesville Food and Nutrition Institute showed that after just 8 weeks of eating them regularly, these bright little fruits enhanced immune cells and primed them to be ready to defend you. 
Cranberries as sauce, juice or even dried can all give you some of cranberry’s immune boosting help. But for best effects, look for recipes with minimal refined sugar, sweetened with other fruits or fruit juices instead.
Just the sight of squash’s bright orange and yellows is enough to make you feel better. But it’s not just their looks. Squash is high in beta carotene. Your body turns beta carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a key role in helping your immune system cells differentiate. In other words, it helps your immune cells develop expert specializations so they can protect you better.
Do you love squash’s nutty sweetness so much you could you eat squash all winter long – not just over the holidays? You’re in luck! Apparently the beta carotene supplies in squash increase over time as they sit in storage. So save a few for a post-holiday immune fortification feast.
What feast is complete without a liberal dose of garlic? And certainly, this spicy bulb is an immune powerhouse. When volunteers took a garlic supplement daily for 3 months, they experienced significantly fewer colds and spent significantly less time being sick than the placebo group.
There’s a trick to using garlic to stay healthy, however. Garlic is really only effective when its unique sulfur compound, called allicin, starts to decompose. To get the decomposed allicin in your system, make sure you chop up your garlic and then wait for 10 minutes before cooking with it or mixing it with acids. This way you can be sure to get garlic’s full fortifying effects.
Okay, oatmeal isn’t really something you think about eating when you’re decking the halls. Especially when you’ve got all those holiday treats like sugar plums dancing around. But nonetheless, it’s the perfect warming winter breakfast. And not just because it’s hot . . .
Oats are high in beta glucans. Beta glucans are special carbohydrates that have been shown to help with immunity. Beta glucans seem to speed up your body’s ability to locate invaders. And they seem to boost some immune cells resistance to viruses. In one study on firefighters, researchers found taking beta-glucan supplements daily reduced their rate of getting a cold by 23%.
So if you’ve been traipsing from party to party, break it up with a bowl of oatmeal. When you combine oatmeal’s immune-boosting beta-glucans with its heart-healthy fiber, you’ve got a great counterbalance to the holiday’s rich fare. Sprinkle in a few cranberries or stir in some pumpkin puree and you’ve made it even more of an immune-boosting superfood. (Hint: You can probably hold the garlic!)
Chlorella alga is not your traditional holiday food, mind you, although it is a festive green color. But there’s a reason I advocate chlorella so much, especially during the holidays. Chlorella . . .
· Gives you more beta carotene ounce per ounce than most vitamin-A rich foods.
· Boosts your immune system on many fronts.
· Is a rich source of defense fortifying beta-glucans.
And best of all - not only is chlorella outstanding nutrition for your immune health - it’s easy. You don’t have to bake or baste it. All you have to do is take a small handful of tablets in the morning . . . And oh yeah, and did I mention chlorella is sugar-free?
So don’t miss out on the joy and comfort of the season. Get second helpings of these immune boosting foods and be merry!
Sanchez, A., et al. Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nov 1973;261:1180_1184. Bernstein, J., al. Depression of Lymphocyte Transformation Following Oral Glucose Ingestion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1997;30:613
Immune System Busters And Boosters. Web MD Cold, Flue & Cough Center. October 2013. Viewed 10/30 at http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/10-immune-system-busters-boosters
Immune Support From Cranberries. Nutraceuticals World. July, 2012. Viewed October 30, 2013 at http://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/issues/2012-09/view_supplier-research/immune-support-from-cranberries/
Phaneuf, H. Herbs Demystified. Marlowe & Co. New York: 2005. p. 141
LeBlanc BW et al. The effect of PGG-beta-glucan on neutrophil chemotaxis in vivo. J Leukoc Biol. 2006 Apr;79(4):667-75. Epub 2006 Jan 13.
Davis JM et al. Effects of oat beta-glucan on innate immunity and infection after exercise stress. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Aug;36(8):1321-7.
Harger-Domitrovich et al. Effects of an Immunomodulating Supplement on Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Symptoms in Wildland Firefighters. Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism, University of Montana, Missoula MT.
Dr. Michael E. Rosenbaum is a 35-year veteran and widely recognized pioneer in the field of nutritional medicine, alternative healthcare and medical acupuncture. As one of America's most respected experts in natural health and healing, Dr. Rosenbaum has been a frequent lecturer to professional medical groups and has participated in numerous television and radio talk shows. He is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board, which helps guide the medical innovation behind Sun Chlorella products. Want to learn more about what the medical world is missing? Get our FREE report, "Why Didn't My Doctor Tell Me This?" In this eye-opening report, 5 pioneering natural health experts reveal nutritional secrets that can change your life. Get your free copy here. Sun Chlorella USA offers the finest quality chlorella products for anti-aging, weight maintenance, energy, heart, brain & digestive system, as well as overall health and wellness for both people and pets. Also, for special offers, news and updates, follow us on Twitter at @sunchlorellausa or 'Like' us on Facebook at our Sun Chlorella USA Facebook page.
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