The immune system is a pretty powerful defense against a range of disease- causing microorganisms. There are limits to its effectiveness however, as immune function can be impaired by nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. The good news is that minor tweaks to your diet can help strengthen immunity, giving it a better chance to fight off infections. Here are some foods that you should include in your diet to boost immune system naturally and help keep you healthy.
7 Foods That Boost Immune System Naturally
It’s one of the most widely used of all herbs, but it’s not just popular for its culinary uses. Ginger has long been an important ingredient in traditional medicine and some of those therapeutic applications are supported by modern research. Ginger has been found to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects that can increase immune protection and relieve inflammatory symptoms. A study conducted by researchers in Taiwan also suggests that ginger may offer antiviral protection in some cases. Aside from ginger, you should also consider consuming other spices and herbs like garlic, turmeric, and cinnamon.
Forget the vitamin C supplements and load up on antioxidants with some broccoli. Leafy greens are an essential ingredient in any healthy balanced diet, especially if you’re looking to boost immune function. Broccoli isn’t just a healthy source of vitamin C and antioxidants such as sulforaphane. It also provides you with other nutrients and antioxidants for healthy immunity, such as vitamin E, iron, folate, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Of course, broccoli isn’t the only source of these nutrients. You can add a variety of leafy greens to enjoy these health benefits. Some of the best choices for greens that boost immune system naturally would include spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.
Popular opinion suggest one of the best foods to boost immune system are oranges. Like other citric fruits, oranges are a rich source of vitamin C. This has made them a go-to food for anyone worried about picking up the flu or common cold. While nutrition doesn’t work like magic, oranges are a great addition to an immune boosting diet. Because of their high content of vitamin C and A, bioflavonoids, dietary fiber, folate, and copper, regular consumption of oranges will support healthy immune function. This is true of all citric fruits, so if oranges aren’t your thing, try having some grapefruits, lemons, or tangerines.
To be clear, we’re not talking about fried chicken here. Chicken soup, however, is popular for a reason and it’s not just the placebo effect. Some studies suggest that chicken soup may have a mild anti-inflammatory effect that provides relief from cold and flu like symptoms. In addition to protein, chicken is also a great source of vitamin B-6; a 6 ounce serving would give you your entire day’s B-6 requirement. This is important, as the vitamin plays a vital role in the absorption of vitamin B-12 and the production of red blood cells. It has even been found to improve immune responses in patients who are critically ill.
Chicken also provides you with other nutrients like chondroitin, selenium, zinc, and iron, all of which support immune function, directly or indirectly. Turkey and fish like salmon are just as healthy and can be included as a substitute for chicken as foods that boost immune system naturally.
Almonds may not be the first food that comes to mind when you’re thinking of boosting your immunity, but they certainly belong here. A study published in the journal Immunology Letters suggests that almond skins improve immune protection against viral infections. While the exact mechanism of action isn’t clear, almonds are believed to have a stimulatory effect on immune function. Additionally, almonds and nuts like pecans or hazelnuts also provide you with nutrients like vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin. They’re also a good vegetarian source of protein and iron, which are needed for a healthy immune system.
Yogurt is one of the best foods that boost immune system naturally. Over the last decade it has become increasingly clear to health care experts that the gastrointestinal tract plays a crucial role in immunity. This has helped highlight the role of probiotics, which has fueled the demand for supplements. Yogurt is perhaps the best natural source for probiotics or ‘healthy’ bacteria, helping restore the natural balance of gut microflora. It’s also a great addition to your diet because of its protein and vitamin content. Just try and avoid the sweetened or flavored yogurt varieties. Instead, try homemade plain yogurt or add fruits and sweeteners yourself, if you really feel the need. You can also include foods like kefir, tempeh, or sauerkraut to get your dose of probiotics.
Eggs remain a dietary staple for most of us, but there’s been a trend towards consuming eggs without the yolk. While this may seem like a sensible way to control cholesterol levels, it’s not. Aside from the fact that the type of fat and dietary cholesterol in yolks does not pose a threat, egg yolks are also a rich source of nutrition. Whole eggs are particularly valuable as an immune boosting food because they contain important minerals like selenium and zinc.
While these foods won’t give you foolproof protection against the cold or flu, they do support healthy immune function. Ultimately, boosting your immune system is the best that you can do to lower the risk of infection and to hasten recovery if you do fall ill. Which of these foods that boost immune system naturally do you already eat and which ones do you need to add to your diet?