Your immune system is responsible for defending your body against harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause disease or infection.
What you eat has a significant impact on how well your immune system functions. While no single food or vitamin supplement can prevent sickness, you can strengthen your body’s natural defenses by eating foods rich in nutrients. This is even more important as you age and immune function begins to decline.
Here are 15 boosts that can boost your immune system and help protect you from disease.
15 immune-boosting foods
1. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are abundant in vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant that helps your immune system produce more white blood cells to fight infection and disease. Citrus fruits that are good for immune-boosting include oranges, lemons, limes, kiwis, and grapefruit.
2. Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers have 2-3 times more vitamin C than oranges ounce for ounce. They also contain beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties. To retain their nutritional value, try roasting or stir-frying them rather than steaming or boiling.
3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body and can help strengthen the immune system. They are also highly versatile and easy to incorporate into your diet.
4. Button mushrooms
Along with the B vitamins, niacin, and riboflavin, button mushrooms are a great source of selenium. Selenium deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of getting the flu, and niacin and riboflavin are vitamins that are important for a strong immune system.
Broccoli is an excellent source of beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, C, and E, which support a strong immune system. Try cooking it as little as possible to keep more nutrients in the vegetable.
6. Dark leafy vegetables
Kale, Swiss chard, and spinach are excellent immune-boosting foods that are rich in beta-carotene, folate, and vitamin C and K, which are essential for cell health. The more pigmentation a leafy green has, the more antioxidants it has. Try adding a variety of greens to your salads to give your body plenty of nutrients for optimal health.
Blueberries are high in vitamin C and flavonoids, which function as antioxidants that shield you from cellular damage. To benefit from all the health advantages that blueberries offer, eat them fresh or frozen.
8. Acai berries
The dark color of acai berries is an indication that it contains a high concentration of polyphenols called anthocyanin. Antioxidants like anthocyanin are important for cell repair and regeneration. Try these berries dried, combined with oats, or blended into smoothies.
Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E and good fats. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties, protecting cells and boosting the immune system. One half-cup portion of almonds contains nearly all the necessary daily intake of vitamin E.
Matcha green tea has a high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, making it an effective preventative measure against the common cold and flu.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans and contains probiotics, which are healthy bacteria
that feed your gut and promote the health of the digestive system. Since gut health is tied to immune health, miso can also act as an immune-boosting food.
Ginger has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is often used to treat nausea, indigestion, and gas. It contains gingerol, an antioxidant that can help naturally strengthen the immune system and fend off viruses. Ginger also contains magnesium, iron, and vitamins B6 and C.
In addition to antibacterial and antifungal properties, garlic also has anti-inflammatory properties as well as vitamin C and allicin. Garlic has long been used to fight infections, lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and help boost the immune system.
Oysters contain zinc, which has some antiviral properties and plays a role in the production of white blood cells involved in immunological responses. Additionally, it aids your immune system in wound healing.
15. Wheat germ
Wheat germ is the nutrient-rich portion of the wheat seed. It contains zinc, antioxidants, and B vitamins as well as fiber, protein, and some good fats that are good for overall health.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
15 Foods That Boost Your Immune System. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-immune-foods
5 Foods to Boost Your Immune System. https://greenamerica.org/your-green-life/5-foods-boost-your-immune-system
Staying Healthy with Immune Boosting & Anti-inflammatory Foods [ppt]. https://www.seattlecca.org/sites/default/files/page_content/2018-02/UELAND-Supporting-a-Healthy-Immune-System-Through-Food.pdf
Foods That Will Help Boost Your Immune System. https://www.waukeshafoodpantry.org/blog/post/foods-boost-your-immune-system
Immune System: Foods That Boost and Supplement It. https://www.narayanahealth.org/blog/immune-system-foods-that-boost-and-supplement-it/
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