Can the right diet bolster my body’s defenses?

"If you get migraines regularly then drinking green tea will make your migraines worse. I found this out the hard way. "

Never one to miss a celebration, I always look forward to holiday gatherings. But crowded parties are a prime place to pick up a bug. Couple that with late nights, frequent travel, and I know I’m a target for a cold or the flu. That’s why I try to boost my immune system to help keep me from missing out on the fun of this season.

To fight off colds, our son Ben, who’s 24, used to swear by Airborne, a supplement containing 17 vitamins, minerals and herbs that once billed itself as a way to prevent or cure colds. I was always skeptical that this supplement could work. I struggled not to say a motherly “I told you so” when, after settling a $23.3 million class-action lawsuit for false advertising, Airborne’s manufacturer was ordered to pay out an additional $30 million to consumers. Afterward, Ben admitted that Airborne had lost some of its appeal, but I still noticed it around his house. (The claim on the supplement now reads, “helps support your immune system.”)

For Ben’s sake and mine, I decided to take a look at the science and see what may really work to boost our immune systems—and what isn’t worth the money.

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