9 Foods that Boost the Immune System

The immune system is crucial for keeping us healthy, but what we eat can greatly influence its performance. Adding more immune-boosting foods to your diet is a great way to keep your body strong.

Try some of these nutrient-rich dishes, such as turmeric ginger chicken broth made with a slow cooker.

1. Garlic

Garlic is loaded with sulfur, a key player when it comes to immune support. The sulfur makes it hard for pathogens to thrive. It also contains compounds such as ajoene, allicin and S-allyl cysteine. Ajoene has been shown to inhibit the growth of fungus and HIV.

Aged garlic extract has been shown to increase the proliferation of gamma-delta T cells and natural killer cells. These are two types of innate immune system cells that respond to pathogen-associated molecular patterns.

2. Citrus Fruits

Whether you enjoy them in a salad, make a healthy smoothie or simply sip, citrus fruits are among the best immune-boosting foods around. Oranges are a top pick because they provide 96 milligrams (or 106% RDI) of vitamin C per cup.

Other fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C include berries, spinach, kale and carrots. They also contain beta-carotene, which turns to vitamin A, another immune-boosting nutrient.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli packs a big immune-boosting punch. The vegetable contains many plant compounds, including glucobrassicin, sulforaphane, carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin), and flavonoids (kaempferol).

These nutrients help the body neutralize free radicals, which create stress that can lead to chronic disease over time. The sulforaphane found in broccoli stimulates the body to produce its own powerful antioxidants. Try eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale regularly, as well as other Brassica vegetables, such as cauliflower and kohlrabi. The key difference between antigen and antibody is that an antigen is a material that might cause an immune response in the body, while an antibody is a globin protein that is created in reaction to a particular antigen.

4. Sweet Potatoes

As novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the world, everyone could use extra immune-boosting foods in their diets. Try tossing sweet potatoes into a stir fry, roasting them, and adding them to salads for a healthy dose of vitamin A (beta-carotene) and potassium.

Salmon and other cold-water fish are rich in omega-3s, which help tamp down inflammation and keep the immune system in prime working condition. They also contain protein and the antioxidant glutathione, which can help prevent infections.

5. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, bok choy and arugula provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. They also contain a type of immune-boosting chemical called dietary nitrate, which helps cells function better.

To reap the benefits of kale, combine it with berries and coconut water or plant-based milk in a smoothie. You can also add it to soups and stews. Vitamin A from kale promotes bone marrow production, which is important for producing white blood cells that can fight infections, according to research.

6. Nuts & Seeds

Eating a diet rich in nuts and seeds provides an array of immune-boosting nutrients. They contain a winning combination of vitamin D and omega-3 fats, which help the body fight off infection and lower inflammation. Nuts, such as walnuts, cashews and Brazil nuts, are high in immune-boosting nutrients like selenium, zinc and folate. They also contain heart-healthy fats and protein.

Seeds, including chia, pumpkin and flax seeds, provide immune-boosting proteins, healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of magnesium, which improves how the immune system functions and helps protect against infections.

7. Oils

A well-balanced diet of healthy foods has the power to boost your immune system. Basic steps like eating a variety of nutritious foods, getting enough sleep and reducing stress all impact the immune system in positive ways.

Essential oils like eucalyptus, clove and ginger have many immune-supporting properties. Eucalyptus EO stimulates immune cells to ingest and destroy bacteria, viruses and other harmful microbes that are invading your body. This immune-boosting oil blend also contains antiseptic and respiratory support properties.

8. Echinacea

Echinacea is a pretty flower that has become a popular immune support supplement. It works best when taken at the first sign of illness.

This North American plant (also known as purple coneflower) has a long history of medicinal use. It was used by Native Americans to heal a variety of ailments including snake bites and sore throat.

Today, it’s commonly used to shorten the duration of colds and flu, and reduce symptoms such as sore throat (pharyngitis). However, it is contraindicated for those taking immunosuppressant medication.

9. Green Tea

Green tea is rich in polyphenols, including EGCG. Past research has found that EGCG increases the number of regulatory T cells, which help keep immune responses balanced and prevent them from attacking healthy tissues.

Boost immunity with this assorted pack of tea bags that include the goodness of ashwagandha, dandelion, chamomile, cinnamon, hibiscus, lemon, rose, moringa, jasmine, ginger, turmeric and tulsi. It is non-caffeinated and has zero calories per cup.

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