Foods That Boost the Immune System:- Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong.
The immune system consists of organs, cells, tissues, and proteins. Together, these carry out bodily processes that fight off pathogens, which are the viruses, bacteria, and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease.
When the immune system comes into contact with a pathogen, it triggers an immune response. The immune system releases antibodies, which attach to antigens on the pathogens and kill them.
If you’re looking for ways to prevent colds, the flu, and other infections, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. Plan your meals to include these 18 powerful immune system boosters.
18 Best Foods That Boost the Immune System
Papaya is another fruit loaded with vitamin C. You can find doubleTrusted Source the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in a single medium fruit. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects.
Papayas have decent amounts of potassium, magnesium, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health.
Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
Vitamin C boosts the white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.
2. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, a type of antioxidant that gives the skin of the potatoes its orange color.
Beta carotene is a source of vitamin A. It helps to make skin healthy and may even provide some protection against skin damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
When you’re sick and you reach for chicken soup, it’s more than just the placebo effect that makes you feel better. The soup may help lower inflammation, which could improve symptoms of a cold.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains nearly one-third of your daily recommended amount of B-6.
Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. It’s also vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells.
Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that many people use in cooking. It is also present in some alternative medicines. Consuming turmeric may improve a person’s immune response. This is due to the qualities of curcumin, a compound in turmeric.
Foods That Boost the Immune System
Shellfish isn’t what jumps to mind for many who are trying to boost their immune system, but some types of shellfish are packed with zinc.
Zinc doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies need it so that our immune cells can function as intended.
Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include:
Keep in mind that you don’t want to have more than the daily recommended amount of zinc in your diet:
- 11 mg for adult men
- 8 mg for most adult women
Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function.
6. Citrus fruits
Most people turn straight to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. That’s because it helps build up your immune system.
Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections.
Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.
Popular citrus fruits include:
Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adults is:
- 75 mg for women
- 90 mg for men
If you opt for supplements, avoid taking more than 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day.
Also keep in mind that while vitamin C might help you recover from a cold quicker, there’s no evidence yet that it’s effective against the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
7. Red bell peppers
If you think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable, think again. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain almost 3 times as much vitamin C (127 mgTrusted Source) as a Florida orange (45 mgTrusted Source). They’re also a rich source of beta carotene.
Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help you maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate.
The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible or better yet, not at all. Research has shown that steaming is the best way to keep more nutrients in the food.
Foods That Boost the Immune System
Garlic is found in almost every cuisine in the world. It adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health.
Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. Garlic may also slow down hardening of the arteries, and there’s weak evidence that it helps lower blood pressure.
Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may help with nausea as well.
While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin.
Ginger may also decrease chronic pain and might even possess cholesterol-lowering propertiesTrusted Source.
Spinach made our list not just because it’s rich in vitamin C — it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may both increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.
Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking makes it easier to absorb the vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid, an antinutrient. Check out some spinach recipes here.
Look for yogurts that have the phrase “live and active cultures” printed on the label, like Greek yogurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases.
Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kind that are flavored and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey instead.
Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with this vitamin. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.
Clinical trials are even in the works to study its possible effects on COVID-19.
Foods That Boost the Immune System
Watermelon is an immune-boosting fruit. One 2-cup serving of watermelon has 270 mg of potassium, 30% of the daily value of vitamin A, and 25% of the value of vitamin C. Calories in watermelon aren’t much at all. One 2-cup serving of watermelon has just 80 calories. Watermelon also provides vitamin B6 and glutathione. The body needs these vitamins, nutrients, and compounds like glutathione for proper immune function.
5 Ways to Eat Watermelon
Watermelon slices are the most common way to enjoy this fruit. Here are a few creative ways to eat watermelon.
- Make a fruit salad with watermelon and top it with a lemon, honey, and mint dressing.
- Have a tall glass of watermelon strawberry lemonade.
- Snack on arugula watermelon salad topped with feta cheese.
- Enjoy frozen watermelon sorbet.
- Cool off with watermelon, ginger, lime pops.
When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C. However, this powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system.
It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats.
Adults only need about 15 mg of vitamin E each day. A half-cup serving of almonds, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides around 100 percentTrusted Source of the recommended daily amount.
15. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E.
Vitamin E is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens.
Sunflower seeds are also incredibly high in selenium. Just 1 ounce contains nearly half Source the selenium that the average adult needs daily. A variety of studies, mostly performed on animals, have looked at its potential to combat viral infections such as swine flu (H1N1).
You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Research Source shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage. Curcumin has promise as an immune booster (based on findings from animal studies) and an antiviral. More research is needed.
17. Green tea
Green tea contains only a small amount of caffeine, so people can enjoy it as an alternative to black tea or coffee. Drinking it may also strengthen the immune system.
As with blueberries, green tea contains flavonoids, which may reduce the risk of a cold.
Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another powerful antioxidant.
In studies, EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.
Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells.
Foods That Boost the Immune System
18. Acai Berry
Its dark color is a sign that it’s got plenty of nutrients called anthocyanins.
There isn’t any research that shows acai is good for any specific condition. But in general, antioxidants from foods are a key part of a healthy lifestyle.
Enjoy these berries in juice or smoothies, or try them dried and mixed with granola.
Vitamins that can boost immune system?
Vitamin C is what many of us associate with boosting immunity, and for good reason. Vitamin C can help protect your body from infection and even can stimulate the formation of antibodies to fight off disease. The only issue is that your body cannot make Vitamin C, so it must come from the foods you eat on a daily basis. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, are known for their high Vitamin C content. Believe it or not, foods that have even more vitamin C than citrus fruits include red bell peppers and strawberries.
Vitamin A helps your body regulate its immune system and can protect against infection. Some examples of foods rich in Vitamin A includes sweet potatoes, broccoli, red bell peppers, and carrots. Plus, the prebiotic fiber in veggies and fruit supports and feeds the probiotics that live in your GI tract, helping them grow and thrive.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps to neutralize free radicals in the body. Research suggests that Vitamin E can even help protect the body against several infectious diseases. Try incorporating almonds, hazelnuts, and peanut butter into your diet to reap the benefits of Vitamin E. Green vegetables, including spinach and broccoli, also provide some vitamin E.
Please note: While it’s highly unlikely you’ll get too much in the way of vitamins from food sources, fat-soluble vitamins — vitamin A, D, E, and K — can be harmful in high doses. Research is still ongoing, but science consistently supports the fact that vitamins in supplement form may do more harm than good. Nutrients are always most bioavailable in their natural food form. Plus, the health benefits of these foods generally come from the synergistic relationship and combination of all the nutrients in the food that is difficult to extract into a pill.
Habits You Need To Maintain For Good Health
The following lifestyle strategies may make a person’s immune system stronger:
- Avoiding smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding alcohol or drinking in moderation
- Getting enough sleep
- Minimizing stress
- Practicing correct hand-washing and oral hygiene