Caring for you immune system can improve your health both in the short term and the long term. You can improve your body’s ability to fight illnesses such as colds and flus as well as reduce your long term risk of cancer and aging side-effects. This will enhance your overall quality of life. Improving your immune system does not require any special pills or doctor visits; there are certain foods that you can add to your diet to help boost your body’s health. Here are six that you can use to get started.

Green or black tea

Green and black teas are both derived from the camellia tea plant, making them both rich in polyphenols, which are amazing antioxidants. These teas also contain ample flavonoids, another type of antioxidant. These nutrients can help attack free radicals in the body. A 2003 Harvard study led by Dr. Jack Bukowski that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also found that tea drinkers had immune systems that responded 5 times faster to germs than those of coffee drinkers.

Garlic

Garlic has long been hailed as a fantastic immune system booster in many cultures, and now studies are proving these people right. A 2001 British study led by Peter Josling of the Garlic Centre in East Sussex found that those who took garlic extract supplement caught less than half the number of colds of those not taking the supplement. In the long term, garlic can also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. This is largely thanks to the allicin in garlic, which fights infection and bacteria.

Oatmeal

Oats, along with barley and some other types of whole grains, contains beta-glucan, which has both antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities. For you, that means oats can help boost your body’s healing, help your antibiotics work better, and make your immune system even stronger.

Cabbage

Cabbage is a versatile food that can help boost your immune system with its ample supply of vitamins C, E, A, B1, B2, B6, K, and more. It also contains numerous minerals. Its variety of phytonutrients help to support the immune system while its antioxidants help to fight free radicals. It even has anti-inflammatory properties and can help with digestion.

Mushrooms

Adding mushrooms to your diet can help boost your white blood cell activity and make these important cells more aggressive. When you have an infection, the more aggressive your white blood cells are, the better off you will be.

Kefir or yogurt

Yogurt and kefir – a yogurt like drink, both contain ample probiotics. These helpful bacteria can boost your body’s ability to fight harmful bacteria that get into your stomach. Certain probiotics, such as Lactobacillus reuteri, help specifically to boost white blood cells. A 2005 study done in Sweden administered Lactobacillus reuteri probiotic to shift workers and found that while 33 percent took sick leave during the study period in the control group, none of those in the probiotic group took leave. The study was published in Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source.

Boosting your immune system can help you keep your body healthy and ready to fight whatever harmful agents it comes across. Work on adding these foods into your regular diet and improve your quality of life, just in time for winter.