With a host of human health concerns to think about, you may be wondering what you can do to boost your body’s immunity naturally. There’s good news there – the answer is as close as your pantry.
Food is the front line of defense when it comes to your immune system. Eating plenty of foods high in antioxidants and important vitamins will strengthen your body’s ability to deal with invaders. Following are 5 excellent types of food to add to your diet immediately.
Vitamin C has been touted as the cure-all vitamin, but that’s not totally true. It does, however, increase the body’s production of white blood cells, which are necessary fight infection.
Folks tend to bump up their vitamin C intake when they’re feeling under the weather, but it’s actually important to get an adequate supply every day because our bodies neither produce nor store the stuff. The recommended daily amount is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men.
Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, so eating them is probably the best way to meet this level. Great choices include oranges, clementines, tangerines, and grapefruits. You can also boost your intake by squeezing the juice of a lemon or lime into your water or as a garnish to meals.
Protein is an important component of immune health because the cells that power immune response rely on protein to fight infections. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, you may experience fatigue, weakness, and lowered immune response.
The problem is that we tend to rely on meat for protein. Many cuts contain a lot of saturated fat, which damages your heart and circulatory system. However, there are some good choices, including poultry like turkey and chicken. Poultry is also high in vitamin B6, which plays a major role in the formation of healthy red blood cells.
Another good source of protein is shellfish, which has a nice amount of zinc along with other vitamins and minerals. Though our bodies don’t need a ton of zinc, it is important to proper functioning of immune cells. Choose crab, oysters, lobster, or mussels for the best results.
It’s hard to go wrong with vegetables, which all contain a certain amount of antioxidant goodness. That’s why dieticians recommend that we “eat the rainbow” – meaning fruits and vegetables of all colors, not Skittles candy. There are, however, a few veggie choices that can optimize your immune system.
Red bell pepper, for example, has 3x as much vitamin C as citrus fruit! It also contains a good amount of beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A supports immune function by reducing inflammation and regulating cell response.
Another super-veggie option is broccoli. Those little florets are full of vitamins A, C, and E. Note that if you’re eating broccoli to boost your immune system, it’s best to eat it raw. However, raw broccoli can be challenging to digest. If you need to cook yours, avoid boiling. Steaming is the best way to preserve the vitamins and it’s simple, too. You can do it right in the microwave
Yogurt & Other Dairy Products
Yogurt and other dairy products can support the immune system with vitamin D. This nutrient is critical in regulation of the immune system and may also improve your body’s ability to respond to invaders.
Some yogurts contain live and active cultures that stimulate the immune system. Choose Greek yogurt for this purpose. For an even bigger boost, look for yogurt that is fortified with vitamin D. In any case, avoid brands that are loaded with extra sugar. Plain yogurt sweetened with fruit or honey is much healthier.
Herbs & Spices: Ginger, Turmeric, and Garlic
Adding spice to your meals can add power to your immune system. Three of the best choices for this are ginger, turmeric, and garlic.
Turmeric contains a high amount of curcumin, which provides both the bright yellow color and the distinctive taste of curry. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory substance that is incredible for boosting the immune system and is also often used to treat painful arthritis flare-ups.
Ginger is a sweet and spicy root used in holistic medicine to treat the symptoms of respiratory illness, sore throat, and generalized pain. Ginger is also a common remedy to soothe feelings of nausea and may even reduce the bad cholesterol in your blood.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin that is thought slow natural hardening of the arteries, lower cholesterol, and help your muscles rebound after exercise. Some studies suggest that it can even lower blood pressure.
Each of these flavorful additions to your diet can take pressure off of your immune system by keeping your body’s systems working optimally.
When it comes to boosting your immunity to nasty invaders, whether bacteria or virus, the key is getting plenty of antioxidant rich foods in your diet. Attention to meeting your daily recommended doses of critical vitamins and minerals is important, too. The more balanced your diet, the more balanced your immune system.