11 Foods to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
A weakened immune system can make your body vulnerable to various kinds of diseases and illness, particularly when it is warm seasonal shift from winter cold to summer.
The immune system is the gate keeper for your body. It protects the body from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and so forth. That is why it is important to keep your immune system functioning at its optimum level.
Food plays a major role in your body’s immune system to function properly. Some foods are known may decrease your immunity, while others can help boost your immune system. Here are some best immune boosting foods that you should include in your diet to keep your body fit and healthy.
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits, like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, are high in vitamin C – a well-known immune-boosting nutrient. Vitamin C is recognized for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps maintain the integrity of your skin, which acts as a protective barrier against infection. Therefore, getting enough vitamin C is a great way to strengthen your immune system and fight off colds and flu.
Garlic contains an immune-stimulating compound called Allicin which promotes the activity of white blood cells to fight colds and flu. Garlic also have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that may help fight bacterial and viral infections.
In one study, participants given a daily allicin supplement were 63 percent less likely to experience colds than the placebo group. In another study, participants given a daily aged garlic extract supplement became sick just as frequently as the placebo group. However, they reported 21 percent fewer symptoms and recovered 58 percent more quickly than the placebo group.
Like garlic, ginger also contain active compounds that may help lower the risk of infection and improve immune cells’ ability to fight off colds and the flu. Research shows that ginger has antimicrobial properties, which helps in treating infectious diseases. It’s also known for its ability to treat inflammatory disorders that are caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Onions are packed with immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin C, selenium, sulfur compounds, and zinc. Additionally, they also contain quercetin, a potent flavonoid that has antiviral properties as well as histamine regulating effects.
The pungency of onions increases your blood circulation and makes you sweat. This effect is very helpful during cold weather to prevent infections and to sweat out a cold or flu. Consuming raw onion within a few hours of the first symptoms of a cold or flu will produce a strong immune effect.
Both black and green tea are packed with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which has been shown to enhance immune function.
A Harvard study showed that people who drank 5 cups of black tea per day for two weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than other who drank a placebo hot drink. Both black tea and green tea are also rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
Honey has immune-boosting ability due to its antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial compounds which ward off bacteria to help fight infection in the body. Honey also can improve your digestive system, treat acid reflux, and heal wounds quickly.
Make a glass of lukewarm honey water mixed with a pinch of cinnamon powder to help boost your immune system and keep you healthy.
Berries are the perfect food to keep your immune system in tip-top shape and reduce inflammation. Berries, like blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, contain polyphenols that are associated with fighting colds and flu. Per serving, berries contain more antioxidants, which studies suggest may boost the immune system, than any other food. Berries are also high in vitamin C. Too little vitamin C weakens the immune system, allowing repeated infections to occur.
Nuts, like almonds, peanuts, and walnuts, are rich sources of vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. All of these play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Nuts are also great sources of fiber and healthy fats, all of which are beneficial for health. Consuming nuts regularly will lower your cholesterol levels and improves your immunity.
Mushrooms are high in selenium and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin. These nutrients are necessary for the immune system to function properly. Mushrooms also contain powerful compounds called beta-glucans, which have immune enhancing properties.
The beta-glucans in medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake, reishi, shiitake, chaga, and oyster mushroom, are especially notable for their ability to activate and modulate immune system cells.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another powerful immune boosting food. This because the tubers are rich in beta-carotene, one of several precursor compounds that the body can convert it into vitamin A.
Vitamin A may help to stimulate the pro-inflammatory immune response to overcome infection. Vitamin A also helps maintain mucosal surfaces by keeping your mucous membranes and skin properly nourished to function as a barrier against harmful viruses and bacteria. Men should get 3000 IU a day and women 2300 IU a day of vitamin A.
11. Probiotic Foods
Probiotic foods are filled with good bacteria that helps with digestion and enhance your immune system.
A Swedish study found that employees who drank a daily supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri, a specific probiotic that stimulates white blood cells, had 33 percent fewer sick days than those given a placebo.
A recent study also show that probiotics may reduce the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections by up to 42 percent.
The other probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, miso soup, natto, kimchi, tempeh, and dark chocolate.
Be sure to avoid or reduce the intake of high fat foods because they can decrease your immune system. Drinking too much of caffeine drinks can also undermine your immune system, and it acts as a diuretic which will draw out water content from your body.