15 Foods That Can Boost Your Immune System
by DK Kara MD on Nov 23, 2020
Living a healthy life takes a combination of exercise and proper diet. There are many foods which can boost your immune system and keep you healthier for longer. Supplements are nice to add some extra vitamins into your diet but there’s no replacement for organic, locally sourced foods. Here are fifteen foods to eat if you want to increase autoimmune function.
Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants which help fight illnesses like the common cold. Vitamin C also enhances production of white blood cells which act as your body’s natural defense system to foreign invaders. There’s a wide range of citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, limes, and lemons. Your body doesn’t naturally produce vitamin C, so citrus fruits are a must to make sure you’ve got a good amount of the vitamin in your system.
Red Bell Peppers
Sticking with vitamin C, red bell peppers contain nearly three times as much vitamin C than most citrus fruits and have the added benefit of being rich in beta carotene. Eating plenty of bell peppers will help keep your skin healthy and your eyes functioning properly throughout your life, as the beta carotene present in the peppers is converted into vitamin A.
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-filled vegetables on the planet. Broccoli is efficient in providing your body with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as fiber and other antioxidants, making it one of the healthiest vegetables available today. Although broccoli is packed with nutrients, it needs to be cooked properly to keep its nutrients from the fridge to your table. The best way to cook broccoli for its health properties is to steam it or use another method which doesn’t expose the vegetable to excess heat.
Garlic is a popular flavoring ingredient in many cultures around the globe, good for adding some flavor into ordinarily bland dishes. Garlic is also highly important in fighting infections and decreasing the speed at which your arteries harden. There’s even some evidence that it helps lower blood pressure in those at higher risk. Garlic is a great source of autoimmune boosting nutrients because of its heavy concentration of compounds which contain sulfur, such as allicin.
Throughout history, ginger has been used as a remedy for upset stomachs and other digestive maladies. This food decreases inflammation, which in turn can heal a sore throat or other illnesses caused by inflammation. Ginger can be added to many desserts, but it can also be used as a source of spice in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Studies show that ginger is also good for alleviating chronic pain and lowering cholesterol if eaten in the proper portions.
Another great source of vitamin C, spinach is also high in antioxidants and beta carotene. Spinach is a vegetable for those looking to boost their immune system’s response time and intensity to many ailments, and similar to broccoli, spinach is most nutrient rich when cooked as little as possible. In addition, spinach contains high amounts of vitamin A and oxalic acid, a compound which releases other nutrients.
The healthiest types of yogurt will be labeled with the phrase “live and active cultures.” All brands of Greek yogurt are made with this process, making Greek yogurt the healthiest type of yogurt available in many supermarkets. The key is the cultures, which stimulate your immune system and help fight off diseases. Plain yogurts are also healthier than flavored yogurts, as the latter are usually packed with sugar to add flavor and texture. To add flavor, try a dose of healthy fruits a light drizzling of honey on your healthy yogurt of choice.
Vitamin C isn’t the only vitamin that can help your body fight off colds and other minor diseases. Vitamin E is also a key nutrient in helping your immune system become healthy and ready to fight. Vitamin E is fat soluble, which means it requires fats to be absorbed properly. Luckily, nuts such as almonds are chock full of vitamin E and possess the necessary fats for the vitamins to be absorbed. Adults only need fifteen milligrams of vitamin E per day so don’t go to crazy with your almond consumption.
Sunflower seeds carry a variety of nutrients, such as phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E. Avocados and leafy greens are also full of these nutrients, but sunflower seeds are small enough to be enjoyed as a snack or in addition to a meal if you want a quick energy fix. Sunflower seeds also possess a large amount of selenium, which is important to combat viral infections in humans and animals.
Turmeric is the essential ingredient in many curries, used predominantly in Indian cuisine. It’s a bright yellow spice which is bitter to the taste but can be combined with other spices to create a unique, flavorful experience. Turmeric has been shown to treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as it acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Many types of tea contain a high number of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green teas are especially useful for this, as they have a high amount of epigallocatechin gallate which is another type of antioxidant which boosts immune function. Although this antioxidant is present in black tea as well, the fermentation process destroys a large amount of it. Green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which helps T cells produce germ-fighting compounds and can act as a calming agent. L-Theanine is the main reason Green Tea is not as “activating” as coffee even though it has as much if not more caffeine.
Another fruit loaded with vitamin C, papayas also contain a high amount of potassium, magnesium, and folate, which are all used to improve immune function. Papayas are one of the most consistently healthy fruits to eat if you want to increase your overall health and maintain a high level of energy throughout your day.
Much like papayas, kiwis possess a large amount of various, natural nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. All of these nutrients can help your white blood cells fight off infection and help to keep your body functioning properly. Kiwis are also inexpensive, a great way to eat healthy while on a budget.
There’s a reason your mother’s go-to meal for curing your cold is chicken soup. The chicken inside the soup is a natural alleviant to inflammation and naturally improve symptoms of cold and other minor illnesses. Poultry contains vitamin B-6, a vitamin which causes many helpful reactions in your body.
The reason why shellfish can help your body boost its immune system is its high level of zinc. Zinc offers a multitude of benefits to your body and can directly improve the function of your immune system. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, crab, lobsters, and mussels. Although zinc is largely beneficial to your body, you shouldn’t over consume it; men need eleven milligrams of zinc on a daily basis and women need eight milligrams.
Keeping your body healthy is important, especially in times of pandemics and other biological threats. Make sure you eat these fifteen foods to keep your body functioning for a long time to come.
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author