22 Foods That Boost the Immune System from 22 Foods That Boost the Immune System
22 Foods That Boost the Immune System
A common mistake people make when it comes to proper nutrition for the immune system is thinking that if you eat poorly in general, eating once a single healthy food is a guarantee that you will avoid a cold. “What is a far better approach is to eat a balanced nutrition throughout the year with a lot of veggies and fruits, healthy fats, protein and good carbs,” Katharina Kaiser, nutritionist at fitness company Freeletics, says. “This can be your key to not getting sick at all throughout the year.” Most people immediately turn to Vitamin C for a quick boost, and they are not wrong. “Vitamin C is directly used by several cells of our immune system, like phagocytes and T-cells, Kaiser says. Thus, Vitamin C deficiencies result in a reduced resistance against pathogens and people get sick more easily, she adds. There are also some foods, which are especially helpful when you need a boost for the immune system. It is crucial that there is not a single ingredient which can be named as the most important one, Kaiser says. “It is rather the interplay of different food components which ultimately contribute to an immune boost.”
This is “the godfather of immune boosting foods,” Kaiser says. With one clove containing 5 mg of calcium, 12 mg of potassium and over 100 sulfuric compounds, it’s been used for years to prevent everything from the common cold to the plague. Garlic contains a phytonutrient called allicin. It is known for its antiviral and anti-microbial properties, which may help fight viral and bacterial infections, she adds. “The problem is that you should eat it raw.”
Ginger also has antimicrobial properties and may inhibit the growth of different types of bacteria, Kaider says. Ginger is so good on a cold day because not only does it warm you from the inside out, but it also makes you sweat. “This is one of the reasons it’s so good to cure a cold.” This type of sweating not only assists in detoxification, it contains a germ-fighting agent which helps fight off infections, Kaiser adds.
Turmeric has been used as home remedy for ages, especially in Asia. “It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties which are due to an active compound called curcumin, Kaiser says. Several scientific studies have looked at the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric and its immune-enhancing properties due to the curcumin. Use it in soups, smoothies and juices to boost the immune system.
With one cup containing nearly 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin E, not only do they boost your immune system, but almonds also reduce stress, another common cause of the flu, Kaiser says.
Full of vitamins A, C and the antioxidant glutathione, broccoli is an immune-boosting basic, according to Kaiser. The best way to make sure you get enough of it is to swap it for your usual fries and have it as a side dish to accompany your meal, she adds.
Vitamin C is necessary for the healthy function of the immune system. So it’s no wonder that kiwi, containing around 50 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake, is sure to help you fight the flu, Kaiser says. “It’s even been named the world’s healthiest fruit. Don’t take our word for it, try it out for yourself.”
Never heard of it? Also known as Barbados cherry, West Indian Cherry and semeruco, acerola is a red cherry-like fruit, high in vitamin C, Kaiser says. With its high vitamin and mineral content, acerola is used as a vitamin supplement to strengthen the immune system and an ideal ingredient for skin care, she adds. “Add it to your green smoothie for a citrus-like kick.”
“Red bell peppers contain twice the amount of vitamin C per ounce,” Kaiser says. Add this food classic to your salad. Red bell peppers are a good source of vitamin A. They contain more than 10 times the beta-carotene found in green bell peppers and provide157 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Also, capsaicin, which gives peppers their spice, has been shown to boost metabolism.
Berries are among the best sources of Vitamin C, Kaiser says. “It plays an important role when it comes to the healing process of skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.” It will help replace connective tissue, heal your wound and get you back on the training ground fighting fit in no time, she adds.
“Many people are not aware that a large part of our immune system is actually in our gut,” Kaiser says. “Thus it is really important to take care of it our GI in order to stay healthy.” The right balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut is crucial. “In order to help the good bacteria, it is important to integrate prebiotic foods into our diet,” she adds. The gut bacteria especially love fermented foods like kefir, Kaiser says. Other examples are sauerkraut, kimchi, and tempeh.
Artichokes are rich in fiber and are ideal to boost your healthy bacteria, Kaiser says. They are also a good source of inulin, which help the production of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Artichokes are also very rich on antioxidants, according to studies. The vegetable is often used to cure liver diseases (and hangovers too). They have an enormous amount of potassium, vitamin C and magnesium, a nutrient many people are lacking.
Bananas are also rick in fiber, Kaiser says, and are good for you gut health. They are a great source of fructooligosaccharides, a prebiotic that is believed to be more effective than probiotics. The fruit is also an ideal snack because it is filling and helps prevent cravings and regulate blood sugar in order to aid in weight loss. Bananas are very high in potassium which gives a lot of energy to the brain.
Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar, Dr. Daryl Gioffre, Founder of Alkamind and celebrity nutritionist, says. “It contains one of the most powerful antioxidants, glutathione, making asparagus a cancer fighter.”
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are also good sources of Vitamin E, Kaiser says. “Vitamin E is also essential for our immune system.” It is an antioxidant and plays a vital role in the metabolism of each cell in the body, she adds. “It fights free radicals, repairs damaged skin, and is important for our vision.”
Olive oil, among its many health benefits, is a good source of Vitamin E, Kaiser says. Researchers have found that oleocanthal, a key compound in extra virgin olive oil, has a significant impact on inflammation and helps reduce joint cartilage damage. The consumption of oleuropein, a polyphenol found in olives, can prevent bone loss associated with acute inflammation, according to other research.
There are various vitamins and minerals which are proven to be essential for a strong immune system, Kaiser says. Fish has several of them – iron, selenium, zinc, copper, and Vitamin D and B6. Just make sure you pick the right fish. Salmon is on every superfood list. Generally, the larger the fish, the more mercury it contains, so avoid shark, golden bass, and swordfish.
Eggs are a good source of iron, Kaiser says. Also, they are a good source of iodine and selenium – 16 and 20 percent, respectively, of what how much you need in a day. Also, the total omega fatty acids, which are very good for your health (and thyroid), in one egg yolk alone is 554 mg. Eggs are also a great source of Vitamin D.
Beans offer an array of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You also need beans for protein and fiber. Such legumes appear to also help prevent certain diseases, according to a study. Beans are great to keep your blood sugar in check, which is crucial for the brain. They also have a lot of magnesium, which is needed for more than 300 functions in the body.
Eating liver is one way to ensure a sufficient amount of folic acid in your daily nutrition. Liver is also a valuable source of Vitamin D. Liver has been known to be a great source of iron. But pregnant women are advised against eating liver all together because it has a lot of vitamin A which, in large amounts, can harm the baby, according to the U.K. National Health Service (NHS).
They are a good source of Vitamin A, Kaiser says. They are rich in beta carotene — a carotenoid that converts into vitamin A — which helps boost the immune system and lower the risk for various diseases. This antioxidant helps protect the body from free radicals and may lower your risk for heart disease and cancer.
Another food that is also on every superfood list out there, avocado is a great source of vitamin B6. It helps the body to maintain a healthy nervous system, make hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells, provide energy from food, and create antibodies the immune system needs. Studies show that Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune responses in sick people.
Chickpeas are high in fiber and pair well with a variety of different flavors and cooking methods from mashing to sautéing and roasting. Chickpeas are crucial for regular sleep patterns due to their high content of vitamin B6 and tryptophan. Some call chickpeas the “miracle legume” because they are also filling, resulting in less eating and therefore maintaining your weight.