Best Fruits and Vegetables for Fighting Infections

You can find all of the vitamins and minerals that will help you fight infection in delicious fruits and vegetables that are easy to juice. Enhance their infection-fighting qualities by mixing and matching those with the most potent qualities for your needs.

Where to Find Potent Infection Fighters

Here's a rundown of the best produce sources for fighting infections and germs.

Vitamin or Mineral

Food Source

vitamin A

carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, kale, red bell peppers

vitamin E

almonds, sunflower seeds, olives, blueberries, tomatoes, spinach, watercress, asparagus, carrots

vitamin C

Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, papayas, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries

selenium

cruciferous veggies, garlic, oranges, grapes, carrots, radishes

bioflavonoids

onions, cruciferous veggies, prunes, tomatoes, citrus fruit, cherries, parsley, melons

copper

turnips, garlic, ginger root

zinc

cruciferous veggies, parsley, garlic, carrots, grapes, spinach, tangerines, lettuce, ginger root

omega-3 fatty acids

flaxseed and hemp oils

Best Herbs for Fighting Infections

Echinacea and astragalus are the two most popular herbs used to boost immunity, but they are also supported by the most significant documentation, according to Michael T. Murray, N.D, a leading authority on natural medicine and a professor at Bastyr University in Seattle. Murray claims that both echinacea and astragalus exert broad-spectrum effects on the body's natural defense mechanisms.

Echinacea can be your best friend if you have a bad cold, flu, virus, or other infection caused by a compromised immune system. But taking it on a daily basis can cause your body to become so used to it that it's no longer as effective, so only take it when you're under the weather. Studies show echinacea may give sluggish immune systems a much-needed boost for fighting infections by stimulating the thymus gland.

Echinacea — especially echinacea angustfolia — was used by Native Americans and early healers for a wide range of conditions, including poisonous bites, syphilis, toothaches, enlarged glands, burns, fevers, and the common cold. In fact, Native Americans used it more than any other plant to treat various conditions.

In addition, Murray argues that echinacea also exerts direct antiviral activity and helps prevent the spread of bacteria by blocking a bacterial enzyme called hyaluronidase. This enzyme is secreted by bacteria in order to break through the body's first line of defense, the protective membranes such as the skin or mucous membranes.

Murray says that clinical studies have shown astragalus, another herb used for viral infections in traditional Chinese medicine, to be especially effective when used as a preventive measure against the common cold. In addition, it reduces the duration and severity of common cold symptoms, and raises white blood cell counts in people with chronic leukopenia (low white-blood cell count).

Other herbs that may help fight infection include the following:

  • Licorice root is still one of the most used and most important herbs in Chinese medicine, and is used extensively for urinary and digestive tract problems. It has a very wide range of uses, including the treatment of tuberculosis, diabetes, and everyday coughs and sore throats.

  • Cat's claw may promote a healthier immune system by helping white blood cells fight infection and disease. It's also an ancient remedy for digestive disorders and viruses. Studies show it helps reduce inflammation and fight damaging free radicals that can trigger cancer and heart disease.

  • Goldenseal root was used by Native Americans to fight infections and viruses, disorders of the digestive tract, respiratory conditions, urinary tract infections, and infections of the skin and eye. The root is primarily used today to treat bacterial infections.

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