Do our food choices really influence how susceptible we are to sickness? You bet your sweet pepper they do. Specific nutrients in foods have been shown to enhance the body’s ability to keep us well. Here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other nutrition experts:
• Protein: It’s what immune cells are made of. Sources of immune-building protein include lean beef, pork and poultry, fish, eggs, beans and soy-based foods.
• Vitamin A: Among other components, cod liver oil is a good source of vitamin A — a nutrient that helps maintain the cells that line our intestines and lungs. These “mucosal” cells are the sentries that guard our body from foreign invaders. Carrots, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes and red bell peppers are good sources of vitamin A (or beta-carotene which safely converts to vitamin A in the body.)
• Vitamin C: Although scientists still don’t understand the exact way that vitamin C works to boost immune function, we do know this essential vitamin plays an important role in healing wounds and strengthening our resistance to disease. Vitamin C also helps form antibodies that fight off infection.
Since this essential nutrient is easily destroyed by air, heat and prolonged storage, we are smart to eat at least one high vitamin C food each day. Sources include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
• Zinc: Like an army that relies on a continual renewal of supplies and soldiers, our immune system relies on zinc to consistently renew disease-fighting cells. And since zinc in food is bound to protein, it makes sense that good sources include oysters, beef, pork, liver, as well as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
• Vitamin E: Given its antioxidant ability to neutralize free radicals, vitamin E keeps the machinery of the immune system functioning at capacity. Good sources include nuts, seeds and whole grains. Wheat germ is an especially good source of vitamin E.
If we don’t happen to eat a varied diet for any reason, we could be missing out on essential vitamins and trace minerals that could compromise our ability to ward off sickness, say nutrition experts. Whether or not to take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement is a discussion worth having with your health provider.
The holiest plant of the Christmas season may be a raggedy shrub with peeling bark that seems to grow best in a dusty backyard in Tempe, Ariz. This is Boswellia sacra, better known as the frankincense tree. The shrub’s gum resin is one of the three biblical gifts that the wise men bestowed on the infant Jesus. Until recently, Americans who wished to cultivate their…
Q: Why do some vegetables, such as cooked diced carrots, spark when I reheat them in the microwave?A: Microwaves work by sending out electromagnetic waves that vibrate the water, fat and sugar molecules in food, creating heat. The microwave generates an electric field, but the intensity of the electricity varies throughout the microwave. When you cut a carrot into small pieces and heat them in…
FRESNO, Calif. — Federal law now allows visitors to carry guns in national parks, but you can’t just slip a loaded pistol into your backpack and take a hike. Pay attention, because this is a little complicated. You will need a concealed weapons permit to carry the loaded gun in the backpack. But you don’t need any kind of permit if you just want to…
Q: The daylight/nighttime sensor system of my 2000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is locked on the nighttime setting, which keeps the headlights on during daylight and also keeps instruments and digital clock/radio lights dim. Would this most likely be a defective sensor? Can the sensor be replaced without dismantling the dashboard? I tried cleaning the sensor but that didn’t change anything. — Stan BurnettA: Stan, it…
BAKER CITY — Zella Sly is holding a stone that looks perfect for propping open a door that’s out of plumb. Or you could use it to buy a new Ferrari. This is, suffice it to say, not an ordinary rock. To be geologically precise, it’s not even a rock at all. It’s a chunk of nearly pure gold. Specifically, the biggest, and most famous,…