Boost Your Bug Fighting Powers

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Georgia Cancer SpecialistsI beat the flu in December, thinking I was in the clear. But apparently, that’s not the case. After spending much of the holiday season traveling in cold snowy weather on planes, trains, and buses, it appears another bug got the best of me. So I went in search of what I can do to give my body a boost to fight any further invaders.

If you are in the midst of cancer treatment, you too may be wondering what you can do to avoid illness or infection. With flu cases in Georgia at what is believed to be their peak right now, it would be completely normal to be a little worried. Even if you don’t get the flu, a cold or virus can easily take a toll on your health during cancer treatment.

Want an immune system powerful enough to take out the bad guys? Take a good look at what you are putting into your body. Although there isn’t one magic food to maximize our germ fighting ability, studies show that what we eat does affect our body’s defense system.

Choose high quality fuel, and your body will thank you. Choose low grade fuel (i.e. junk food), and your body won’t be as effective at waging war on intruders.

Although I don’t agree with everything Dr. Oz says, his show often highlights foods that boost the immune system. And no matter how you feel about the show or Dr. Oz himself, one message is consistent.

Eating more foods that come from plants—in the form of seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, fruits, and herbs and spices—is good for all of us, not only for boosting our immune system, but for fighting cancer too. And this message comes from numerous sources—not just a popular TV show.

Although all plant foods are helpful in some way, here are a few (courtesy of the Dr. Oz show) that you might want to grab on your next grocery trip—if they aren’t already in your home.

Tahini is best in the form of hummus with a few raw veggies.

Black Pepper may be helpful, especially in conjunction with other spices. Try adding freshly ground black pepper at dinner every night.

Dried leaf oregano has aromatic oils may help kill up to 30 different germs. Sprinkle on salads, in soups, in casseroles, or on pizza and pasta dishes.

Pumpkin has beta-carotene, which turns into Vitamin A to boost immunity. Roast fresh baking pumpkins (and the seeds) for a side dish or use pureed pumpkin to make soup. If you aren’t a pumpkin fan, try sweet potatoes, papaya, or carrots instead.

Garlic is full of allicin that may fight inflammation. Make your own garlic toast with whole grain bread, olive oil, and crushed fresh garlic. Shaking garlic powder on toast may be quick and easy, but isn’t as effective as the real deal (nor does it taste as good!)

Sardines. Okay, sardines aren’t a plant and honestly, I can’t stomach them. But they are rich in healthy anti-inflammatory fats and vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D in the body may affect immune function. Since sunshine to produce vitamin D is at an all-time low in the winter, sardines are another option.

Not a fan of any of these? Try adding one fruit or vegetable every day that you like until you reach the recommended number of 5-9 servings every day!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

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