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Are you immune?

(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)

First came superfoods: whole foods (spinach, berries) that were supposed to be healthier for us than other whole foods. Now we have immunity foods: foods that are supposed to boost our immune systems.

According to a recent New York Times article about the sudden popularity of immunity-enhancing foods in — where else? — Los Angeles, eaters are downing tea, coffee, and other liquids and foods as a way to plump their health in the cold season: 

bq. For example, there is the Buddha roll, which has shiitake mushrooms (which have iron and vitamin C), lemongrass mushroom soup (lemongrass has folate, zinc, and iron) and wild salmon tartare, which features cucumbers (vitamin C, folate, and vitamin A), wild salmon (omega 3, selenium), garlic (selenium, phytochemicals), and red onion (vitamin C and copper, among other things).

But can these foods really help cancer patients strengthen their immune systems and help patrons get rid of the flu? The food jury is out — and definitely skeptical about the stay-immune-even-while-boozing trend:

bq. The immunity enhancement does not end at the table — you can sit at the bar and pickle yourself while ostensibly warding off disease and calamity. There are martinis made with vodka and goji berries (antioxidants) or cucumbers. Taste note: both have a strong vodka top and fruity finish.

Vodka as an immunity booster? Doubtful, even when coupled with orange juice (vitamin C!) in a screwdriver.

In other news, Airborne — the company that sells all those little packets of presumed immune goodness for air travel — has agreed to pay more than $23 million to settle a lawsuit over false advertising claims. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Airborne claimed that its product not only prevented but even cured the common cold. Now that would be a real immunity-enhancing trick.