Sip This for a Stronger Immune System

Orange juice isn't the only beverage you can grab when you want to help your immune system fight off illness and infection.

New research suggests that grape juice may be an immune system booster, too. In a study, people who sipped Concord grape juice daily for 9 weeks had higher blood levels of a special type of infection-fighting cell.

Bolster Your Defenses

The study involved middle-aged folks who were basically healthy. But something interesting happened when they added about 1½ cups of grape juice to their daily diet. After 9 weeks, they had significantly more T cells compared with the control group. T cells are a type of white blood cell that fights off infections. And in the study, drinking grape juice increased participants' levels of specialized T cells called "surveillance" cells, found mostly in the lungs, intestines, and gastrointestinal tract. Researchers think that these cells act as the first line of defense against invading pathogens. When surveillance cells detect trouble, they stimulate other immune cells to defend the body. (Here are more foods that muscle up your immune system.)

Cellular Soldiers

Researchers think the polyphenols in grape juice should probably take the credit for the immune-boosting effects in the study. But keep in mind that the levels consumed in the study do have some drawbacks. A cup and a half of grape juice adds over 250 calories and 60 grams of sugar to a person's day. So to keep your overall calorie intake from inching up, use the juice in place of high-calorie, low-nutrition items currently in your diet. Or just sip the occasional glass of grape juice to help boost your body levels of polyphenols a bit. And practice a well-rounded variety of other immune-boosting habits, such as exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress. (Help wounds heal faster with these three effective stress busters.)

Feeling sick? Do this to help speed your recovery from colds and flu.