Getting Your Immune System on Track
When it comes to our health and wellness, it all starts with what we put in our bodies. While no supplement or specific food will offer a cure or full prevention from illness, certain foods can offer immune-boosting effects, helping you ward off germs and bacteria with that much greater ease.
So, what immune-boosting foods should you incorporate more of in your diet? Let’s take a look!
1. Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C is often the go-to when a cold hits. However, this vitamin should be a staple part of our diet all the time, not just when we get sick. Vitamin C is found in various citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits. It acts as an antioxidant in the body, preventing cellular damage from free radicals.
It also may aid in the production of white blood cells, giving your immune system a little boost! It’s further theorized that vitamin C can help potentially reduce illness symptoms and length.
2. Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers are packed with more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. On top of their vitamin C content, they also offer beta carotene, which is another antioxidant. While both of these can help improve immunity, they also contribute to better eye and skin health.
If you’re looking for a quick snack, berries are among the best fruits. Easy and convenient, berries also pack tons of punch with their very high antioxidant content. From blueberries to strawberries and more, you can’t go wrong with a very berry snack.
Many berries also come with plenty of vitamin C, making them a top contender for naturally boosting the immune system.
Love adding garlic to almost every dish? Well, this actually might be a good thing! It’s thought that garlic has immune-boosting benefits due to its sulfur-containing compounds. Garlic is considered to have antibacterial properties as well, which may give way to its benefits for immunity.
For a super-immune-boosting smoothie, throw ginger and orange juice together with some yogurt. It’s delicious and might just make you feel that much better (or at least equip your body with the resources to help you feel better). Plus, anyone who has used ginger to help calm an upset stomach knows how great this food can be when you feel ill.
Ginger can help reduce inflammation, even helping decrease chronic pain.
As a fermented food, yogurt has many benefits for your gut health and more. Since it often contains plenty of vitamins, like zinc, magnesium and selenium, it can help support your immune system in doing what it does best. So, how does it do this? Selenium and magnesium both play key roles in immune cell production, which can help ward off the next illness.
7. Olive Oil
Research indicates that olive oil, in particular extra virgin olive oil, may reduce immune-related inflammation, such as that associated with arthritis, diabetes, obesity and more. Olive oil contains a high amount of polyphenols, which can help with the activation of the body’s immune system as well as help regulate it.
8. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain fatty acids which can help provide energy and modulatory effects to the immune system. Additionally, seeds, like sunflower seeds, contain plenty of trace minerals and nutrients which are important for optimal immune function. For instance, sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, an important resource for proper immunity.
While more of a spice than a food, turmeric is well-known for its health benefits. It’s no secret that it’s played a major role in the Ayurvedic medicinal system for thousands of years. So, how can it help enhance immunity?
The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, can help reduce inflammation. It’s also been shown to have antiviral and immune-boosting effects, helping you avoid that common cold!
Chicken soup is a go-to when sick for many reasons. First, chicken is high in vitamin B6, which plays an important role in healthy red blood cells. If you’re consuming chicken broth, you’ll also get ample collagen and gelatin, which can help with gut health and more.
What Else Can You Do to Boost Your Immunity?
On top of eating right, making the right lifestyle choices can also go a long way in preventing illness. Exercising regularly, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy weight, prioritizing sleep and managing stress can also ensure your body stays healthy and your immune system works optimally. Take small steps toward building a healthy lifestyle and you’ll be able to enjoy many years to come!
Are you someone with diverticulitis? Read about some foods you'll want to avoid.
- Food Fix: Immune System Boost
- Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Consumers
- Zingiberaceae extracts for pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- One Immune-Boosting Super-Ingredient Used 3 Ways: Yogurt
- The Protective Effects of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Immune-mediated Inflammatory Responses
- Fatty acids and immune function: new insights into mechanisms
- Reduced inflammatory and muscle damage biomarkers following oral supplementation with bioavailable curcumin