Every winter the cold weather bring with it a slew of  reoccurring viral infections. This year, instead of excepting your fate of contracting the common cold, Rodale News recommends these immune-boosting foods as natural remedies to prevent pesky viral infections from ruining you health.

Keep in mind, eating well is only the first step in maintaining good health. By integrating healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly and staying hydrated into your daily routine, you are much more likely to maintain a clean bill of health.

1. Coconut Oil

The numerous health benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the high concentration of lauric acid, a saturated fat, that is found in the oil.

Lauric acid has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which is supposedly helpful in dealing with viruses and bacteria that cause diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It also helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

You can get a immune boosting serving of coconut oil by tossing some root veggies in it and roasting them, or you can try an ancient ayurvedic practice known as oil pulling. To do this you just take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for about 20 minutes.

2. Garlic

Garlic is one of the best natural immune-boosting foods.

Allicin is the sulphur compound responsible for the strong odour in garlic. It also has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents [cold-fighting abilities], that work well when combined with vitamin C. Research indicates that allicin has a strong antibiotic potential to fight against cold, flu, viruses and yeast, in fact it can also have a strong effect on certain bacteria that could be resistant to drugs. As few as two or more servings of garlic a week can protect against colon cancer.

3. Mushrooms

Mushrooms contain a ton of antiviral, antibacterial, and antitumor properties. All varieties of mushrooms contain beta-glucans, compounds that activate the immune system and defend against infections. Beta-glucans keep your white blood cells on high alert for any signs of invasive activity, thus nipping disease in the bud.

The best medicinal properties of mushrooms are seen only in particular varieties like maitake, shiitake and reishi. These species have an active compound called lentinan that has a natural ability to kill bacteria and prevent virus multiplication in the body.

For the most immune-boosting benefits, try mixing maitake and shiitake mushrooms, since their different compounds work together synergistically.

4. Hemp Seeds

Almost all edible seeds have a multitude of health benefits, but it’s hemp seed that contains a globulin called edistin, which boosts the immune system. Hemp is also one of very few plant proteins that supply you with all the essential amino acids, acids your body can’t produce on its own to build muscle and create protein. The seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and taste good sprinkled into oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, or smoothies.

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