PREV
PAGE

NEXT
PAGE

 

 
Bullet-Proof Your
Immune System
With Some of the World's Top Immune-Boosting Superfoods
 

 

 

With the season and all the media attention around the H1N1, various strands of the flu and other illness concerns - all the way down to just avoiding the common cold - the interest in NATURALLY boosting our immune system is at an all time high.

Next month, we are running an expanded feature on natural immune support, featuring the advice and tips from some of the top names in this area of specialty.  This feature will inform you on how you might benefit from foods which can provide you with a natural immunity from illness.   

However, with the high-interest on this topic, this month we are giving you a sneak peak.  In particular, some of the top immune-boosting superfoods from around the world.

Some of these are available at your local grocer while many of these potent, exotic fruits are beginning just beginning to appear, outside of their native areas, in whole food fruit blends with specific targeted benefits, such as immune support.

While the various antioxidants, phytonutrients, etc. that we gain from daily consumption of common fruits are essential (see this month's main feature for more), clearly some foods' profiles are complete outliers with unusually high immune-boosting activity in the human body.  We selected this top 10 list from that basis.

 

Açaí berry
The a
çaí berry comes in at the top of the list for it's inherent immune defenses that we benefit from when we consume it.  Just by nature of it's growing environment, we begin to

     açaí berry

appreciate how well developed its defenses are.  Growing atop the palms that provide the very canopy of the Amazon rain forest they are exposed to tremendous UV rays near the equator.  It's dark pigmented skin helps protect it.  With the intense, humid, tropical environment, it also has built up its defenses against all the microbes, harmful bacteria and viruses so prevalent in the Amazon region.  Then, given that the tree itself my be submerged in up to 20 feet of water for months at a time, during the seasonal floods, it's amazing that it not only survives, but abundantly thrives.

A
çaí's unique properties can boost the immune system in several ways.  The International Journal of Sports Medicine reported that açaí's beta-sitosterol prevents immune suppression and modulates lymphocyte activity.  Açaí's wide antioxidant spectrum helps prevent free-radical damage to the immune system.  The berry's antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties can reduce the frequency of infectious diseases.  Açaí's powerful antioxidants even help prevent free radical damage to our DNA, lowering the threat of carcinogens and mutagens in our body.  This amazing berry also helps strengthen cell membranes, further protecting against pathogens at the cellular level.

 

Maqui berry (pronounced: mä-key)
Maqui is a plant that grows in Chile and western Argentina. The deep purple maqui berry has been used traditionally for a variety of benefits including support for immune health and vitality. The maqui berry

     Maqui berry

contains extraordinarily powerful antioxidants including polyphenols and anthocyanins, which help protect against the damaging effects free radicals can have on our cells and support healthier aging.

 

Baobab
The baobab tree is native to the tropical lands of Africa and can grow to impressive size during its legendary lifespan.  The Baobab trees's trunk diameter can grow as large as 36 feet, with the largest truck measuring 49 feet! The elongated oval shaped baobab fruit (like a potato) has a hard shell covered with soft yellowish-gray fur. Literature is abundant for its traditional use as a food. The most edible and frequently consumed part of this popular African fruit is the inner pulp. The pulp is commonly eaten raw or mixed with milk or water to make a drink. Vitamin C and calcium are two of the most prominent nutrients found in the baobab fruit.


     Baobab Tree



     Baobab Fruit

 

Black currant
Black currant is native to Europe and northern Asia. A variety of black currant is also found in North America. Black currant fruit is a source of vitamin C, an essential vitamin with antioxidant properties. It has been studied for its anthocyanin content; an antioxidant that gives this berry its distinctive color. 


     Black currant

The berry is 1 cm diameter, very dark purple, almost black, with a glossy skin and containing several seeds dense in nutrients.

The fruit has an extraordinarily high vitamin C content (302% of the Daily Value per 100g, table), good levels of potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B5, and a broad range of other essential nutrients (nutrient table, right).

Other phytochemicals found in the black currant (polyphenols/anthocyanins) have been recently  demonstrated in laboratory experiments with potential to inhibit inflammation mechanisms suspected to be at the origin of heart disease, cancer, microbial infections or neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Major anthocyanins in blackcurrant are delphinidin-3-O-glucoside, delphinidin-3-O-rutinoside, cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, and cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside which are retained in the juice concentrate among other yet unidentified polyphenols.

 

Blood orange
The blood orange is a variety of orange that gained its nickname because of the crimson, blood-colored flesh. Its distinctive dark flesh color is due to the high concentration of anthocyanin, a pigment common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus.


Blood orange


The fruit's anthocyanins, are antioxidants that reduces the risks associated with many ailments, including age-related illnesses.

Blood oranges have been used in home remedies for centuries. They are known for their vitamin C content.

Blood oranges diminish the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer and bad cholesterol build-up. They May also reduce the risk of cataracts, and aid in the body's healing process.

 

Elderberry
Elderberries are small, dark berries  that grow in clusters on elder  bushes.  They are a hardy plant  
growing native in many climates in  Europe and North America. The  berries are said to have many

 

Elderberry

nutritional benefits. Elderberries contain vitamin C, which is commonly used to support the immune system. Elderberries also have anthocyanins, antioxidants which are responsible for giving many red and purple fruits their color.
  

In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study, elderberry was shown to be effective for treating Influenza B. People using the elderberry extract recovered much faster than those only on a placebo. The study was published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine.
  

A study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. This current study shows that, indeed, it works for type A flu.  These findings were presented at the 15th Annual Conference on Antiviral Research.
  

The study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 milliliters of extract and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.
  

Patients in the extract group had "pronounced improvements" in flu symptoms after three days: nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. Also, the extract group had no drowsiness, the downside of many flu treatments. The placebo group didn't recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays.

It's likely that antioxidants called flavonoids—which are contained in the extract—stimulate the immune system. Also, other compounds in elderberry, called anthocyanins, have an anti-inflammatory effect; this could explain the effect on aches, pains, and fever.

Elderberry extract could be an "efficient and safe treatment" for flu symptoms in otherwise healthy people and for those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, final report says.

 

Lingonberry
The Lingonberry is a creeping, evergreen, sub-shrub native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is widely distributed in arctic, alpine, and northern temperate forest regions. The fruit is bright to dark red, strong flavored, and tart. Lingonberries contain beneficial nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidant polyphenol compounds.


   Lingonberry 


Lingonberries contain plentiful organic acids, vitamin C, provitamin A (as beta carotene), B vitamins (B1, B2, B3), and the elements potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In addition to these healthful nutrients, Lingonberries also contain phytochemicals that are thought to counteract urinary-tract infections, and the seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
  

  

Lingonberries are used in herbal medicine.  In pre-modern times, the berries were of major use in keeping people healthy in Sweden through the long winters, when fresh vegetables were not available. A coarse porridge with fat, salt, pork, and lingonberry preserve was a classic meal of the winter, and a large crock of the berries preserved with sugar would be found in every larder. Owing to their high content of benzoic acid, they have the boiling sensation.
  

 

Sea Buckthorn
Sea Buckthorn is a hardy deciduous  shrub native to Asia and  Northwestern Europe. 

The shrub produces yellow-orange to red berries that contain vitamins and other nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E, and other nutritional compounds.
  

 


    Sea Buckthorn


The fruit of the plant has a high
vitamin C content—in a range of 114 to 1550 mg per 100 grams with an average content (695 mg per 100 grams) about 12 times greater than oranges— placing sea-buckthorn fruit among the most enriched plant sources of vitamin C. The fruit also contains dense contents of carotenoids, vitamin E, amino acids, dietary minerals, β-sitosterol and polyphenolic acids.
  

The last two Superfruits, research and much more will on the hot topic of immune support will be highlighted in next month's issue.  Stay tuned!

 

 























 


PREVIOUS
PAGE


HOME


NEXT PAGE

 

Featured Titles of the Month

 

 

 

 

 
#1 Choice by our
January Reader Survey

 





RealHealthAnswers.com is not, in anyway, affiliated with any specific company, product, individual or practice.  Nothing on this website, nor its related content, is intended to give advise, diagnose, treat, cure or mitigate any disease or condition.  It is for educational & research purposes only.  We take no responsibility for the third-party scientific, medical or media conclusions or inferences from any of these independent sources included in this compilation within this issue.
"Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food."   - Hippocrates, The Father of Modern Medicine