A strong immune system works around the clock to assists you fight against many illnesses and infections. With the new Coronavirus (Covid-19) impacting communities all around the world, we definitely need to consume more immune boosting food to make sure our body’s defense system is working at its peak.
However, it is important to understand that immune boosting foods and a healthy immune system alone cannot protect you against the Coronavirus. You should also follow many lifestyle changes including social distancing and proper hygienic practices to protect yourself from this virus.
Can food really boost your immune system?
Plenty of evidence suggests that your, diet has an important role to play, among many other strategies, in boosting your immunity. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of plant-based food choices surely supports your immune health.
Read along to discover several foods that will give an extra kick in this course, and how you can incorporate these foods into your diet.
Immune boosting foods to add to your diet
1. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are the most commonly known genus of fruits to boost your immune system. They include many types of fruits, such as limes, lemons, grapefruit, clementines, and several types of oranges.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, a nutrient known to encourage your immune system to produce white blood cells, which is the army that fights infections. Researches show that intake of vitamin C at the onset of symptoms of a cold will help cure it sooner and reduce the severity of symptoms.
You can have most of these fruits alone as it is or in a juice. You can also simply add a squeeze and incorporate it into your salads.
Broccoli, an immune boosting basic vegetable is very easy to find and is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate. It has a high bioavailability of vitamins A, C, E, and antioxidants like glutathione and sulforaphane. Phytochemicals in it are great for arming and strengthening your immune system.
You can easily add it to any dish or mix and match with few spices to come up with a side dish. It can be nicely served as a stir-fried dish or even in a salad. A fact to remember: the less you cook broccoli, the more nutritional value you’ll gain from this vegetable.
Ginger is used around the world as a perfect fix for most seasonal ailments like cold, cough, fever, and flu. This miraculous ingredient has an active component called Gingerol, which makes ginger a perfect immunity booster. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce sour throat and nausea.
Ginger can give a nice spicy kick to any of your stir-fried dishes, soups, or sauces. Another great way to reap the best benefits of ginger is by adding a small amount to your tea. Ginger combined with lemon to make detox water will not only boost your immune system but also help in weight loss.
Garlic, a superfood, found in every kitchen, does more than just punch the flavor of your food. The main active ingredient in garlic is allicin and it’s rich in Sulphur-containing compounds that bring out the medicinal properties in garlic. Evidence suggests that these compounds boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body against certain disease-causing viruses.
You can simply add it to any of your stir-fried dishes and it also comes in handy in soups and salad dressings. However, garlic’s health powers are best when it’s raw.
Spinach is one of the best immune boosting foods, with an abundance of vitamins and antioxidants including vitamin C, E, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Folate in spinach, helps your body make new cells, repair DNA and replenish the blood cells to give a boost to your immune system.
You can gain the best health benefits from this green vegetable also by cooking it the least. So it’s best to consume it in smoothies, salads or in any kind of sandwich you prefer.
6. Red bell pepper
If you are looking for a sugar-free source of Vitamin C, red bell pepper is your best alternative. It’s also abundant in beta carotene which converts into vitamin A inside your body. Vitamin A helps repair your body’s mucosal barriers which are easily damaged by infection.
You can incorporate red bell pepper into your diet as a stir-fried dish, in salads, or roasted with other veggies.
Turmeric is another ingredient with super properties when it comes to fighting off illness. It bolsters the immune system by stimulating antibody formation. Curcumin; its active ingredient, which gives turmeric its unique yellow color, is found to decrease exercise-induced muscle soreness.
People around the world use this spice in different kinds of curries and cuisines. Added to your smoothie in a little amount, it will give an appealing color as well as plentiful nutrition.
8. Green tea
Both green and black tea is packed with antioxidants; flavonoids and polyphenols which seek out cell-damaging free radicals and destroys them. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another strong antioxidant, found in abundance in green tea is known to boost immune function. However, it is low in black tea due to the destruction during fermentation.
To get the best results, leave the boiled water for two minutes before brewing your tea.
Watermelon is a summertime staple rich in antioxidants glutathione and lycopene, found mostly in the red flesh near the rim. These antioxidants help keep your immune system balanced as well as decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and age-related eye disorders.
In addition to eating the watermelon as it is, you can also try a silky smoothie, lightly grilling, adding it into a salad, or stir-frying.
Elderberry is a plant used in medicine from ancient times. The flowers and fruits of this plant are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that can strengthen the immune system. Taking elderberry lozenges within 24 hours of the first symptoms may also reduce flu symptoms. It works by reducing the swelling in the mucus membrane.
These berries can be used to make jams, pies, and juices and even elderberry wine. They can also be eaten fresh in salads. The flower of this plant can be used to brew tea.
What’s special about mushrooms is that they produce Vitamin D themselves and are the only plant source of vitamin D. Mushrooms are high in selenium, polyphenols, and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin. All these nutrients more or less contribute to the top function of your immune system.
You can simply add mushrooms to anything: soups, salads, sandwiches, omelets and cook it in any form: grilled, roasted, stir-fried… you name it.
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E. These nuts are the best way to fulfill your Vitamin E requirement as the absorption of this vitamin occurs only in the presence of fats. They are rich in zinc; which plays an important role in the growth, development, and maintenance of immune function.
Almond milk is popular among vegans and a handful of almonds are a great snack even for those who are on weight loss plans.
This tropical fruit is a whole package of micro-nutrients including, iron, folate, B6, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, B1, B3, B5, E, K, and potassium. Papaya contains a healthy dose of antioxidants, like carotenoids that can neutralize free radicals, playing a role in a healthy immune system.
Well-ripened papaya is a delicious and versatile fruit loved by many people. It’s a great dessert, as a salad or a smoothie.
Yogurt that contains live cultures help your immune system fight against bad bacteria in the gut while also encouraging your body to produce more white blood cells. What you have to look for are the ones with the labels that say “live and active cultures.”
It’s best to get plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself with fruits, nuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Oysters are rich in zinc. They helps create and activate white blood cells involved in the immune response. A variety of other shellfish like crabs, mussels, and lobsters also has the power to strengthen your immune system.
While raw oysters in a shells are the most popular, oyster stew, and oyster stuffing are some other delicious dishes of oysters.
Other ways to boost your immunity
While eating the right foods is a great approach, there are several other strategies you need to follow to maintain good immune health. Following are some of these strategies.
- Always stay hydrated
- Do not compromise sleep
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and other addictive substances
- Burn calories: engage in physical activities regularly
- Practice good hygiene
- Minimize stress: Meditate, travel or engage in any other activity that improves your mental health
- Maintain healthy weight
- Build a good social network