People often turn to an immune-boosting diet when they have the flu or a common cold. But, if you want to build a strong immune system and avoid viral infections, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet at all times.
It's critical that you don't only wait until you’re sick to eat immune-boosting foods. There are several plant and animal foods you can add to your diet to boost your immune system naturally.
- Citrus Fruits
- Sweet Potatoes
- Oily Fish
- Chicken Soup
- Adaptogenic Mushrooms
- Wheat Germ
Vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin A, C, E, and D are known to strengthen the human immune system. Other nutrients and minerals that can enhance immune function are:
First up, the importance of a healthy immune system.
THE ROLE OF A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM
Without a healthy immune system, you can’t fight harmful organisms that invade your body from the outside. In addition, you won’t be able to respond to negative changes that take place within your body.
The immune system is a complex system of tissues, white blood cells, and proteins that work together to prevent disease and fight infection. Your body’s immune system detects and eliminates bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and cancer cells.
The immune system’s ability to protect your body against harmful diseases and infections is referred to as the immune response. A compromised immune system can trigger free radical formation and cell breakdown.
Diet plays a significant role in enhancing immune response. Nutritional deficiencies can be avoided by consuming a well-balanced diet on a regular basis.
Integrating immune-boosting foods into your diet is the secret to a strong immune system. Several peer-reviewed studies show that a healthy diet should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses, among other foods.
The following 8 plant and animal foods can function as preventive medicine for chronic diseases, cold viruses, and any other viral infection:
1. CITRUS FRUITS FOR VITAMIN C
Citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, grapefruits, tangerines, and oranges are excellent sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients. They are rich in vitamin C, folate, fiber, and potassium.
Vitamin C boosts immunity by preventing the death of T cells, which actively prevent bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, which is found in bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.
Without collagen, there would be no networks through which disease-fighting cells can travel. Collagen promotes gut health, tissue repair, and wound healing. Collagen also aids the formation of strong bones, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and even dentin.
Citrus is fat, sodium, and cholesterol-free and can help you maintain a healthy weight—obesity can impair immune function.
|RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCES (RDAs) FOR VITAMIN C
|19 and above
|Note: If you are a smoker, it’s recommended that you increase your Vitamin C daily intake by 35mg
2. SWEET POTATOES
Sweet Potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Carotene is responsible for the bright orange color of sweet potatoes. When beta carotene reaches your liver, it’s transformed into vitamin A, which contains antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules. Free radical formation can increase your risk of developing heart problems and cancer. Beta carotene also keeps skin healthy.
Oxidative stress can occur when the quantity of free radicals in your body exceeds a certain threshold. Furthermore, oxidative stress can increase your risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer and coronary disease.
The antioxidants found in sweet potatoes can reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of disease. Antioxidants reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body.
Vitamin A is also beneficial for the functioning of the intestines and respiratory system. In addition, vitamin A’s anti-inflammatory effects also enhance immune function.
Garlic provides a variety of essential nutrients that help the immune system perform better. When garlic is crushed, chopped, or chewed, it produces a compound known as allicin. Allicin has significant effects on health and physical activity.
Research published in the Journal of Immunology found that garlic strengthens the immune system by stimulating immunity cells like white blood cells.
The antimicrobial and antiviral properties in garlic can stop the development of bacteria, viruses and treat other infections. Consequently, consuming garlic can relieve the symptoms of the common cold and flu. The potent antioxidants, on the other hand, combat free radicals and cancer cells.
Allicin is also found in garlic supplements, which are sometimes used to enhance workout performance. In addition, taking a garlic supplement every day for at least two months can lower cholesterol.
As a result, garlic's allicin ingredient can lower the risk of coronary heart disease, which is linked to high cholesterol.
Besides tossing in a few cloves in your favorite meal, it’s worth incorporating garlic in your collection of dietary supplements.
4. OILY FISH
Oily fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna, eel, sturgeon, and herring contain loads of omega-3 fatty acids, which boost the functioning of immune cells. In addition, EPA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid, can boost the activity of leukocytes and strengthen the immune system.
The omega-3-fatty acid in oily fish also has other health benefits—it can prevent autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Oily fish also contains vitamin D, which is effective in supporting the immune system and fighting infections.
You may not get enough vitamin D from the sun if you spend most of your time indoors. As a result, it's best to get professional medical advice on whether vitamin D supplementation is necessary.
5. CHICKEN SOUP
Chicken soup is rich in vitamin C, A, phosphorus, magnesium, gelatin, antioxidants, amino acids, and anti-inflammatory properties. These vitamins and nutrients are known for boosting immunity, preventing inflammation, and fighting viruses.
The anti-inflammatory effect of chicken soup is the primary reason for its effectiveness in treating upper respiratory tract infections. In addition, the soup can be used to treat a common cold, allergy, and asthma.
The bone broth in chicken soup also contains collagen, which can boost immune function. It also contains essential amino acids that build muscles and other tissues.
Different cooking methods or recipes can be used to make homemade chicken soup. Onions, parsnips, peas, turnips, sweet potato, parsley, carrots, celery stalks, salt, and pepper are all extra ingredients which will boost your vitamin intake.
6. ADAPTOGENIC MUSHROOMS
Mushrooms contain adaptogenic, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects, which can keep your immune system in optimal condition.
Research shows that about 270 species of mushrooms have medicinal value. Some of the most studied fungi include the reishi, cordyceps, chaga, lion’s mane, maitake, and turkey tail. These species have also gained popularity in the world of superfoods and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Mushrooms stimulate the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses. The polysaccharides in cordyceps stimulate natural killer cells, t-cells, and B-cells. The polysaccharides also provide antitumor action by activating the immune response. Our customer Luke agrees:
The effect of cordyceps is subtle but I've noticed better energy and faster recovery since I implemented them into my daily routine. It's also a great way to boost your immune system
Importantly, compounds from mushrooms can also boost the immune systems of people with cancer and autoimmune disorders. Besides promoting a healthy immune system, supplementing with mushrooms can boost cognitive function and athletic performance. Another happy customer Dino confirms this:
I have only been taking them for a few weeks but I feel very focused. I have read about the numerous benefits from taking mushrooms so I am eager to see the long term effects
In North America, pomegranates are considered a superfood and are commonly grown in California and Arizona. While eating a pomegranate requires some effort, it is a fruit worth including in your diet.
Pomegranate seeds are high in fiber, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, and fatty acids, all of which can help you stay healthy. Pomegranate extract is also an excellent source of magnesium, vitamins C, B, E, and potassium.
Pomegranates contain a powerful antioxidant known as polyphenol— well-known for its heart health and cancer-fighting properties. Pomegranate's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics aid in the fight against bacteria, viruses, and fungal diseases.
8. WHEAT GERM
Wheat germ is the inner part of the wheat kernel and is a rich source of vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants in wheat germ reduce the effects of free radicals, resulting in less cell damage.
Vitamin E also promotes immune function and prevents blood clots from developing in the arteries of the heart. Wheat germ oil prevents the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease. Wheat germ is also rich in vitamin B, folate, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Besides boosting the immune system, medically reviewed journals show that wheat germ oil can lower cholesterol levels.
BOOST IMMUNE FUNCTIONS AND FILL DIET GAPS WITH SUPPLEMENTS
Preventive medicine has come a long way in the last decade. Nutrition has been shown to play an important role in preventing bacteria, viruses, fungi, and chronic diseases. The majority of diseases are linked to undernutrition.
Undernutrition, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, impairs healthy development, as well as life-long productivity.
Consequently, it’s important to include a variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet to enhance your immune competence. It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy meals.
However, you can boost your immune health even more by taking healthy plant-based supplements. Your doctor can provide medical advice on whether you need to boost your vitamin and mineral intake with supplements.