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4 Foods That Support Your Immune System

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From the coughing passerby on your commute to the dirty bathroom door handle, your immune system fights off germs you encounter daily. It’s important for your immune system to be in tip-top shape, so why not do what you can to help it out? Support your immune system by taking a multivitamin like Centrum and including these four foods in your diet:

1.Yogurt: You’ve heard ad nauseum that yogurt could be good for your gut, but according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, probiotics (which are found in yogurt) can support immune system function and have the potential to manage vaginal infections. Since some yogurt is heat-treated, which kills probiotics, look for the National Yogurt Association (NYA)’s Live & Active Cultures seal to make sure you get yogurt with active cultures. There are lots of easy ways to incorporate more yogurt into your diet: Go sweet with this lemon cheesecake-esque ricotta and yogurt parfait, or savory with zucchini-potato latkes and tzatziki. Just keep in mind that those good-for-you bacteria begin to die off when they aren’t refrigerated, so stick with recipes where you don’t have to cook the yogurt.

2. Guava: You may have seen guava at the grocery store and not known what to do with it. The whole fruit is edible, including the rind, and the tropical fruit is one of the best sources of vitamin C around—½ cup of raw guava has 188 milligrams of vitamin C (in comparison, one medium orange has 70 milligrams). Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and promotes healthy aging. Get more vitamin C in your diet with this Hawaiian smoothie featuring guava nectar and this mango tart with guava jelly. 

3. Shiitake mushrooms: They aren’t just delicious in stir-fries! Shiitake mushrooms may have many medicinal properties, which is why they’ve been used in traditional traditional East Asian medicine for hundreds of years. In one study, researchers monitored people who ate 5 or 10 grams (about 0.17 or 0.35 ounces) of dried shiitake mushrooms a day for four weeks. The study researchers concluded that mushroom consumption may play a role in benefiting the human immune system. Include shiitake in your meal-planning with chicken, barley, and mushroom soup, vegetarian dan dan noodles, and wild rice with shiitakes and toasted almonds.

4. Salmon: This protein-rich fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is the body’s normal response to injured tissues, but too much inflammation can cause damage to blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease. In addition, to being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon also provides selenium (an antioxidant that affects immune response), vitamin D (vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of infection) , and vitamin B-12 (which helps produce a compound that plays a role in immune function). The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week (one serving is 3.5 ounces of cooked fish). To get your fill of salmon, try making salmon burgers, subbing it for chicken in a Southwestern cobb salad, or simply roast it and pair with a sauce like this roast salmon with chimichurri sauce