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Seven superfoods to help boost immunity.

A healthy immune system begins with what you eat, and adding these ingredients to your diet could do wonders for your health.

Keeping your body healthy from the inside out can help strengthen your immune system and fight off disease. The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals that fight infection (microbes). Without a strong immune system, our bodies would be free to attack from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. So your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle.

In order to boost your immune system, here is a list of superfoods that help to boost immunity-

1. Nuts

Eating a small handful of nuts (at least 20 grams) everyday can cut your risk of premature death by 22 per cent, the journal BMC Medicine reported. It said that nuts protect us against the biggest health killers, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

In addition to being a good source of unsaturated fat, protein and fibre, some nuts, such as walnuts, also offer a plant source of omega-3. However, it's important to stick to a small, unsalted serving everyday to prevent weight gain.

2. Superstar veggies

Eating cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, could cut the risk of certain cancers. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also linked these brassicas with lower odds of heart disease as well as overall longevity.

A great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, they also contain sulphur compounds, which protect cells from damage. However, adding too much vegetables to your diet suddenly could result in bowel problems, so go easy initially.

3. Wake up and smell the coffee

Studies show moderate coffee consumption may be linked with a longer life, says UK-based nutritionist Rob Hobson. "Certain substances in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, are thought to act as antioxidants and free radical scavengers, which reduce inflammation in the body," says Hobson.

However, opt for black coffee. If you are using milk, use skimmed rather than full fat milk, that will be good for you.

4. Go for grains

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that eating dietary fibre, particularly from grains, could lengthen a person's life. "Fibre remains undigested until it reaches our gut, where it provides food for bacteria that make up our microbiome. Digested by-products help regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol," says UK-based nutrition counsellor Pixie Turner.

5. Bean stalk

The world's longest living people rarely eat meat, less than five times a month. "Their diet is 95 to 100 percent plant-based, and they even substitute beans for meat," says Turner. "Meat-free days can help you get more fibre and less saturated fat into your diet. And all of this can potentially reduce your risk of heart disease."

6. Turn up the heat

Research from the US discovered that people who regularly eat hot chillies live longer than those who don't like spice at all. As well as having super anti-inflammatory effects, the substance that gives chillies their heat - capsaicin appears to have a role in boosting heart health and lowering cancer risk too. If you're wary about adjusting the heat levels to suit your tolerance, opt for a good quality chilli paste.

7. Berry boost

Juicy blueberries and strawberries are full of goodness. A British Journal of Nutrition study, which followed thousands of women over decades, found a link between higher intakes of flavonoid-rich foods, such as blueberries and strawberries, with longer lifespans. "Berries freeze well, so in winter, take a handful out of the freezer overnight and add them to your morning cereal," says London based nutritionist Emma Thornton. "Or simmer with a bit of water and cinnamon to create a delicious compote."

A happy gut leads to a healthy heart

Good bacteria in the intestines can reduce the production of a chemical that has the potential to clog arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.

The key to preventing heart disease could be in your gut, new research has discovered.

The study from Ohio State University found that a particular strain of friendly gut bacteria gets to work in the intestines. It helps reduce the production of a chemical (trimethylamine) that can clog up arteries and lead to heart disease.

This bacteria - called eubacterium limosum - has already been shown to help calm inflammation in the gut. These microbes compete with bad bacteria for access to the same nutrients in the gut. If the good bacteria win, they prevent health problems that can result from how the body metabolises food. Scientists hope that in the future, it could be given to patients to lower their risk of heart disease.


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