Table of Contents
Most people don’t give their immune system a second thought until it fails them, usually during winter months when colds and the flu are more prevalent. Your immune system protects you year-round from all types of sickly organisms. Our bodies are bombarded with bacteria and viruses on a daily basis. But our immune systems protect us by releasing antibodies that repel germs. Many people are looking for immune system booster foods, to help keep it running.
Sometimes the immune system gets compromised and can’t properly protect us. Then we end up getting sick or even develop diseases. Eating healthy foods is the first step to boosting your immune system. The majority of our immune system resides in the gastrointestinal system. The gut. Foods high in anti-inflammatory agents are particularly helpful in maintaining a healthy gut and immune system.
Here are 12 foods to add to your diet today to help boost your immune system.
Top 12 Immune System Booster Foods
Blueberries have antioxidant properties from the flavonoid anthocyanin. Flavonoids are the molecules found in plants that give them their health benefits. Most fruits and vegetables have them. Studies show that the anthocyanin type can help the immune system of the respiratory tract, which is often affected severely during cold and flu season.
2. Red Bell Peppers
We’re told since childhood to eat more fruits for their healthy vitamin C content. Yes, fruits do have vitamin C but they also have high amounts of sugar. Red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as some fruits. They also contain beta carotene, which helps your eyesight and your immune system. Bell peppers should be roasted instead of steamed or boiled to keep the nutrients intact.
3. Dark Chocolate
Here’s an excuse to eat chocolate – dark chocolate has the antioxidant theobromine. This antioxidant has been known to protect from the body from damaging free radicals that are produced when breaking down food. Free radicals that cause diseases in the body. If you do choose to consume dark chocolate, remember to do so in moderation.
Oranges are a citrus fruit rich in vitamin C. As mentioned, citrus fruits do have natural sugar that some people may not want to add to their diet. However, the body doesn’t produce its own vitamin C, so we need to ingest as much as we can from our food sources to boost the immune system.
Forget vampires; garlic is best at fighting infections and even lower high blood pressure. Garlic contains a property called allicin that has been shown to boost the immune system. You can add (sauteed) garlic to your dishes or take a supplement.
Eat your spinach! It has an abundance of vitamin C and antioxidants that fight infections. Many other leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and lettuce are also great for boosting the immune system. You can eat it raw, but slightly cooking vegetables bring out the vitamin A and other nutrients found in the plants.
Yogurt is helpful in boosting the immune system if it has “active cultures,” such as those found in Greek yogurt. The active cultures are live and give your immune system more of a boost than other types of yogurts. Be sure to stick to the plain type because the flavored ones are full of added sugar. You can also add honey or even almonds to your plain yogurt to increase its health benefits without the extra sugar.
Almonds are a big deal in the nutrition world right now. Look at any meal plan and you will see suggestions of a handful of almonds as daily snacks. For good reason. Almonds are packed full of vitamin E, which is just as useful as vitamin C in fighting colds. Almonds also contain healthy fats, manganese and fiber.
Turmeric is even more trendy than almonds. The yellow spice is popping up on every kind of health list — improves skin, bone health and is an excellent anti-inflammatory. Turmeric has been around for thousands of years and used in medicinal ways in a number of cultures.
The curcumin ingredient in turmeric is what gives the spice its bright color and healing properties. It can be used in cooking or ingested in supplement form.
10. Oily Fish
Oily fish contain rich amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. The fatty acids have been shown to ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, which can be caused by a compromised immune system.
Your best choices for oily fishes are salmon and tuna.
11. Green Tea
Green teas are rich in the antioxidant flavonoids. It also contains amino acid that help produce the cells that fight off germs. Black tea also contains the healthy antioxidants, but they are sometimes destroyed during the fermentation process. Green tea is steamed, so there isn’t a risk of the nutrients being destroyed.
Unlike black tea and coffee, green tea only has trace amounts of caffeine.
What do you often eat when you’re sick? Chicken noodle soup. And it’s not just because it makes you feel like a kid again. Chicken and turkey are high in vitamin B, which helps the body form red blood cells. Plain chicken broth also contains nutrients that boost gut and immune system health.
Baker’s Dozen Bonus:
Beta carotene is an antioxidant that helps more than your eyes and skin. It is also rich in vitamin A, which boosts the immune system and even protects the skin from sun damage.
How Can You Naturally Boost Your Immune System?
Eating the right foods is a great way to boost the health of your immune system. However, you are the first line of defense in fighting infections and diseases. Good eating habits are important, but what about your other lifestyle choices? Do you get enough sleep and exercise? Do you partake in unhealthy activities such as smoking or excessive drinking?
You can’t eat a few leafy greens and expect your immune system to do the rest of the work. You can help make your immune system stronger and your overall health with these natural steps:
Smoking is bad for you. We’ve all known that for at least 30 years and people smoke anyway. Smoking not only increases your risk of developing diseases, it makes your lungs work harder just to breathe.
The chemicals and tar found in tobacco can lower the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and bacteria, leaving the smoker prone to illnesses.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in numerous healthy vitamins, from A to E, that help promote the general health of your body. They also specifically boost your immune system and give your body more chance of fighting off invaders.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep has so many negative consequences – lack of focus, weight gain, depression. It can also disrupt your immune system and prevent it from adequately defending you from illnesses.
Exercising every day can help you maintain your weight, increases your energy and helps you sleep. All of these are things that work together to support your immune system’s health.
Drink (alcohol, soda) in moderation
Excessive consumption of alcohol and soda are bad for your health. Both contain an unhealthy and addictive amount of substances (sugar, for one.) Poor gut health compromises the immune system and drinking too much soda or alcohol negatively affects your body’s gut health.
You can still drink alcohol or soda, but only in moderation. Water should be your daily drink; liven it up with fruit slices!
Practice good hygiene
Most flu viruses are passed from person-to-person through contact. Washing your hands often can help prevent germs from passing to someone else. Dental hygiene (brushing and flossing) are also an important part of fighting off illnesses. Your gums or teeth can become infected and a strong immune system is necessary to regain your health.
Stress is a big reason for bad sleeping habits and weight problems. If your body is trying to find a way to manage stress, it won’t have enough energy to focus on fighting off diseases. Stress itself can be the cause of the diseases.
Maintain recommended weight
Extra weight on your frame puts undue stress on all of your organs, including the ones that are necessary for the immune system to work. Weight gain can also bring on insomnia and stress, which can also weaken the immune system.
What are the Signs of a Weak Immune System?
Most of the time, we go about our lives without even thinking about our immune system. That means the system is doing its job to protect us from viruses, infections and all kind of other bad things that can make us feel terrible.
Then you do start to feel terrible and you can’t remember what it was like to feel normal.
Here are a few signs that your immune system has been compromised and could use a boost:
- Always tired
- Constantly sick
- Stomach problems
- Stressed out
Best Vitamins to Improve Your Immune System
Vitamin C helps heal wounds and decreases the duration of symptoms from a cold and other ailments. It can be found in the foods listed above.
Vitamin E doesn’t just make your skin smooth. Its antioxidant properties strengthen the immune system to help fight infections.
Zinc helps fight bacteria and infections in the body.
What are your favorite immune system booster foods? Feel free to share your super tips down below!