Microbes are everywhere! On your phone, in your water bottle. On your hands before you wash them — on your hands after you wash them. And literally everywhere else on top of you too. Unfortunately, Microbes are omnipresent at every moment thus we recommend you 16 foods to boost the immune system and protect ourselves from these microbes.
Our safe keeper, the immune system is made up of organs, tissues, cells, and little molecules that work day and night to protect us from the attacks of foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, and fungi which eventually cause us disease and ailment. Sometimes though, it needs a little boost to fight off these attacks and stay ahead of all the Jedi mind tricks that they pull.
What better way to do this than consume foods to boost the immune system naturally?
This is why from the moment we can remember, our parents always told us to finish our vegetables, drink our milk, and snack on fruits. It’s not because it’s a tradition passed out from generation to generation but because it’s the best way to fend against these microbes by boosting the immune system and making it a hundred times stronger, swifter, and more alert. Here’s what the CDC had to say about the link between food, health, and immunity :
“A healthy lifestyle offers many benefits, including helping to prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases. Another important benefit is that healthy routines enhance your immunity.”
On that note, we’ve compiled for you in this article a list of 16 foods to boost the immune system to continue fighting the fight and winning the war.
- 1. Citrus Fruits Help Boost Immunity
- 2. Reishi Mushrooms Stimulate Immune Cells
- 3. Ginger Has Anti Viral Properties That Boosts Immunity
- 4. Garlic Helps In Developing Immunity Against Cold And Flu
- 5. Spinach Has Antioxidants Which Boost Immunity
- 6. Sesame Seeds Are A Rich Source Of Iron
- 7. Bell Peppers Are A Great Food To Boost Your Immunity
- 8. Broccoli Has All Important Nutrients For Optimal Health
- 9. Yogurt Has Beneficial Bacteria That Boost Immune System
- 10. Kiwi Has Many Health Benefits That Boost Your Immune System
- 11. Nuts And Seeds Are A Good Source Of Nutrients That Support Immune System
- 12. Papaya Modulates And Protects The Immune System
- 13. Sweet Potatoes Have Beneficial Effect On Immune System
- 14. Fatty Fish Has Shown Benefits In Boosting Immune System
- 15. Watermelons Regulate Inflammatory Process
- 16. Pomegranate Reduces Free Radicals
- The Bottom Line
1. Citrus Fruits Help Boost Immunity
We’re starting with this one right off the bat because of its well-known vitamin C-rich profile which acts as an antioxidant to help the body fight off infections.
Whenever you hear someone has a cold or has the flu you immediately go to lemon juice or eat an orange. Beyond its great beneficial effects in fighting off microbes and boosting the immune system, they’re also the easiest when it comes to their utilization. They can be squeezed on most foods or made as a delicious drink as well.
According to the National Institute of Health, the recommended daily intake of vitamin c is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men.
Citrus fruits include the following:
- Lemons and limes
2. Reishi Mushrooms Stimulate Immune Cells
Our second contender is the infamous Reishi mushroom which is also Lingzhi mushroom. This mushroom has been extensively studied and these studies have revealed that it had the following effects in enhancing immune system function:
· Modulates the inflammatory process inside the body
· Stimulating immune cells
· Fighting cancer
· Fighting infection
· Improves protective function of immune cells
However, there have been few studies that claim that it showed no effect on immune cell function. It’s worth noting that this study was conducted on reishi mushroom supplementation rather than consumed as a portion of natural food.
3. Ginger Has Anti Viral Properties That Boosts Immunity
Ginger is a root that has many benefits. In addition to being a natural anti-inflammatory, ginger is also an effective natural anti-nausea treatment and has been studied as an effective remedy for motion sickness; it’s also been found to be helpful with nausea caused by chemotherapy. Ginger has even been shown to have some antiviral properties, which makes it more than just your average spice!
And don’t forget about ginger’s antibacterial qualities: one study found that it was just as effective at fighting off salmonella infections as antibiotics like amoxicillin (and without any of the side effects).
4. Garlic Helps In Developing Immunity Against Cold And Flu
This next one you probably know from every vampire movie ever made. That’s right, we’re talking about garlic.
Garlic is a great all-natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal. It also has some antiviral properties and natural antioxidant benefits. Garlic has been used throughout history as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments.
The health benefits of garlic include:
- Preventing and treating colds and flu
- Reducing bad cholesterol levels in the blood by up to 20 percent, making it good for heart health
- Lowering blood pressure by up to 8 percent
5. Spinach Has Antioxidants Which Boost Immunity
Spinach is rich in iron, a mineral that is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and helps to transport oxygen. It also provides vitamin C, folic acid, and many other important nutrients.
The primary benefit of spinach is that it has antioxidants. Antioxidants are important because they help prevent your cells from damage by free radicals which can cause cancer. Spinach also has plenty of other health benefits including fighting against heart disease, stroke prevention, and even helping you live longer!
A healthy diet filled with spinach and dark leafy greens can go a long way in strengthening your immune system.
6. Sesame Seeds Are A Rich Source Of Iron
Sesame seeds are a reliable source of iron, calcium, and magnesium. They also contain zinc, vitamin E (an antioxidant), protein, and fiber.
They are useful in many ways:
- Cooked with rice or pasta in salads
- Sprinkled on the chicken breast before grilling it (1 tablespoon will give you 35% of your daily recommended intake!)
- Just eat them plain as a snack.
7. Bell Peppers Are A Great Food To Boost Your Immunity
Bell peppers are a great food to add to your diet if you want to boost your immune system. They are high in vitamin C, which is important for fighting colds and the flu.
Similarly, they also have a lot of vitamin A, which helps prevent night blindness and cataracts, as well as eye diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Bell peppers also contain substantial amounts of vitamin K, B6 (pyridoxine), E (tocopherol), B1 (thiamin), folic acid, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and biotin; all nutrients that can help fight infection by strengthening the body’s defense mechanisms.
8. Broccoli Has All Important Nutrients For Optimal Health
Broccoli is a vegetable from the cabbage family. It’s also known for its high vitamin C content, which helps boost your immune system as well as protect against infections and viruses. It’s also rich in fiber, manganese, vitamin K and vitamin A—all-important nutrients for optimal health.
It’s important to note though that there have been multiple research that promotes eating broccoli uncooked or cooked as little as possible to gain its nutritional benefits.
9. Yogurt Has Beneficial Bacteria That Boost Immune System
Yogurt is a major source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help to boost your immune system. The benefits of probiotics include the following:
- Helping to relieve symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Protecting against colds and flu by strengthening your body’s defenses against harmful bacteria
- Benefiting your digestive health by reducing gas, bloating, and diarrhea
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor immune-modulatory effects
You should eat yogurt once or twice a day. It can be plain yogurt or flavored with fruit or nuts. If you choose nonfat or low-fat yogurt, it will have fewer calories but still, contain all the necessary nutrients.
You can also make your yogurt at home by combining one gallon of whole milk with a teaspoon of each sugar and active dry yeast; put the mixture in a jar and store it at room temperature for 24 hours before refrigerating it until thickened (usually about 12 hours).
If you do not want to use whole milk, consider using 2% instead since this has less fat than whole milk does.
10. Kiwi Has Many Health Benefits That Boost Your Immune System
It is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Kiwi contains vitamins A, B6, C, and E as well as the mineral iron. The fruit also contains enzymes that promote digestion and help to break down proteins.
In addition to being delicious, kiwi has many health benefits for your immune system:
- Antioxidant – Kiwis are rich in Vitamin C which helps neutralize free radicals. Free radicals damage cell membranes and may lead to cancer if not removed from the body by antioxidants like vitamin C.
- Anti-Inflammatory – Kiwis contain potent anti-inflammatory properties due to their high vitamin E content.
- Immune Function – Vitamins A & K are essential for proper bone growth as well as regulating other functions within the body such as blood clotting.
- Digestion – High levels of fiber help keep you regular; fiber absorbs water which promotes bowel movement so it’s important for preventing constipation!
11. Nuts And Seeds Are A Good Source Of Nutrients That Support Immune System
Nuts and seeds are a reliable source of protein and healthy fats, which can help keep you feeling full longer. They’re also a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and selenium—all-important nutrients that support the immune system.
Some of the best nuts for fighting colds or boosting immunity include walnuts, almonds, and pecans—these are also high in polyunsaturated fats which help fight cancer cells. When buying nuts make sure they aren’t salted as this will increase your sodium intake.
12. Papaya Modulates And Protects The Immune System
Another rich source of vitamin C with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that play a critical role in modulating and protecting the immune system is the papaya.
However, most of the data come from preclinical studies performed on lab animals, so there’s a need for clinical studies to determine its effectiveness on humans.
13. Sweet Potatoes Have Beneficial Effect On Immune System
This one is probably recommended as being one of the best sources of beta carotene and vitamin A which have beneficial effects on the skin and immune system. However, there have been additional reports promoting its anti-tumor and anti-microbial immune-stimulating properties.
Moreover, it has been linked to having anti-diabetic properties as well. If you think about it, you can never go wrong by picking sweet potato as a sweet treat — enjoying the sweet taste and reaping all the nutritious benefits.
14. Fatty Fish Has Shown Benefits In Boosting Immune System
Granted, there have been some concerns about the associated toxic dangers of some fatty fish. However, they have proven to be very beneficial owing to their high omega-3 content which is composed of vitamin D.
Studies have revealed that they provide anti-inflammatory properties and regulate the functions of the immune system protecting against foreign invaders.
Moreover, they have shown superior benefits in reducing the effect of autoimmune diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis.
Below is a list of the best fatty fish sources recommended for consumption:
- Tuna (uncanned)
- Black cod
Nevertheless, it’s advised for pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid having oily fish for the associated risk of pollutants like mercury.
15. Watermelons Regulate Inflammatory Process
The greatest cold treat on a hot summer day! Watermelons are good for other things next to being a delicious treat. They help stimulate the immune system by performing the following functions:
- Being a great antioxidant source as it contains glutathione which is known for destroying free radicals
- Promotes the immune system to fight infections
- Regulates inflammatory processes within the body
16. Pomegranate Reduces Free Radicals
As foretold by through the ancient Egyptian culture, pomegranate has beneficial properties when it comes to fighting infections, reducing free radicals, regulating functions of the immune system, and managing inflammatory reactions within the body.
This doesn’t come as a shock in current modern medicine because pomegranate is considered one of the richest sources of fibers, vitamin c, and potassium which generally promotes excellent immune functions.
To conclude, we would like to issue a reminder —again— on the importance of eating well. Remember it’s not about the quality, it’s about the quantity. It’s not about eating until you get full, it’s about the nutritional content you allow in your body. Thus, you should make it a habit to include the list we’ve compiled for you here today to reap the benefits of an enhanced immune system. Like Dr. Theresa DeLorenzo, RD, Director of the Nutrition and Human Performance program at Logan University, puts it:
“Adequate nutrition is vital to maintaining a healthy immune system”
The Bottom Line
When you think of your immune system, what do you think of? Do you think of how it protects you from infection and illness? Or maybe cancer? Or some other disease that’s on the rise these days. The point is that an efficient and healthy immune system is critical to our health and well-being. It’s so important that doctors often refer to it as our first line of defense against infection, illness, and disease. Remember: your body is sacred, and it deserves to be treated with care. But before you go spending money on supplements, look no further than your fridge! These foods will give your immune system a boost and keep you healthy for years to come.