A strong immune system can help us stay healthy and strong even in times of distress. But what should we actually eat to boost our immunity? Let’s take a look at some specific immunity boosting foods to strengthen your immune response.
Foods that improve your immune system
We’ve all heard that chicken soup is the best food you can have when you’re coming down with the flu. But does chicken soup actually help? Studies have found that “chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.”
However, it’s not just chicken soup. When coupled with good sleep, being physically active, reducing stress, and washing hands frequently, certain foods can actually help boost your immunity and keep you safe from diseases. Although immunity boosting foods can’t absolutely cure diseases, they can definitely help you to fight against them.
10 immunity boosting foods you must eat
Your immune system continually works to defend and protect your body from viruses, diseases, and infections. It is a complex system that primarily depends on a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition to function effectively.
Here are 10 immunity boosting foods that you need to include in your daily diet and eating habits:
Probiotics are regarded as the good bacteria in our gut. High-quality, multi-strain probiotic supplements help to reintroduce good bacteria in your gut and boost your immune system.
These are live microorganisms that act as the first line of defense against external threats in your gut and protect other organs in your body. Foods like sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, and kombucha are rich in probiotics.
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Moreover, multiple studies have shown that “Probiotics may provide novel approaches for both disease prevention and treatment.” Another recent 2019 study revealed that “Probiotic bacteria, their cell walls or probiotic fermented milk have significant effects on the functionality of the mucosal and systemic immune systems through the activation of multiple immune mechanisms.”
As I said earlier, chicken soup is one of the most beneficial immunity boosting foods. In fact, according to an article in Healthline, it protects us from diseases, to begin with. The post, medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo, LDN, RD, states “Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B-6.”
Broth or stock, prepared by boiling bones, consists of nutrients like chondroitin and gelatin which help in improving immunity and gut health.
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3. Oily fish
Oily fish like pilchards, tuna, salmon, and others are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. One study has found that omega-3 fatty acids have certain effects “on different cells from the immune system and their possible molecular mechanisms.”
Moreover, another 2014 report revealed that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids over a long period of time can help to decrease the risk of RA (rheumatoid arthritis).
Did you know something as simple and essential as water can help you avoid falling sick or help you get better? In a Good Housekeeping post, Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, writes “Since our body’s fluid needs increase when we’re fighting infection, drinking an extra two cups of water plus your daily minimum can fuel regeneration of immune-fighting lymphatic cells to get your body feeling stronger.”
Although fruit juices are an excellent alternative, they can really mess up your blood sugar levels. So stick to water or soups and stews. Stefani adds “Chicken soup also provides more protein plus H2O. There’s a reason they call it Grandma’s penicillin!”
Blueberries contain certain antioxidant properties that result in improving our immune system. Moreover, blueberries consist of flavonoids, which are crucial for the immune defense system of our respiratory tract, as revealed by a 2016 study. So make sure to add blueberries to your diet as this is one of the most effective immunity boosting foods.
6. Dark chocolate
Now you have another reason to add chocolates to your diet thanks to their immunity boosting properties. A 2013 study discovered that “A cocoa diet has been shown to influence the immune system: in the innate inflammatory response as well as in the adaptive immunity, and in both systemic and intestinal compartments.” Moreover, dark chocolate includes the antioxidant theobromine, which improves our immunity and keeps the cells in our body safe from free radicals.
However, make sure you consume dark chocolate in moderation as it is high in saturated fat and calories.
Broccoli is one of the most supercharged immunity boosting foods that is packed with vitamins A, C, & E, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. According to a study conducted by UCLA (the University of California in Los Angeles), broccoli can significantly help to boost the aging immune system. The UCLA researchers believe that broccoli “is a radical new way of thinking in how to increase the immune function of elderly people to possibly protect against viral infections and cancer.”
The study found that sulforaphane, present in broccoli, helps to fight free radicals and prevent us from falling sick.
Another 2017 study revealed that “We evaluated the innate immuno-stimulating activities of hot water extracts of various vegetables using the silkworm muscle contraction assay system, and found that broccoli, Brassica oleracea var. italica, contains a strong innate immunostimulant.”
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Garlic is a part of every cuisine in every culture across the globe. Not only it has immune-boosting properties, garlic is also praised for its anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. It is also rich in antioxidants which battles free radicals and prevents various diseases and conditions. Garlic also helps to reduce blood pressure and helps to improve your arteries, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
One study showed that garlic is rich in allicin (sulfur-containing compounds) which helps to decrease the risk of catching a cold and flu.
9. Red bell pepper
These are an excellent source of vitamin C. The anti-inflammatory properties of red bell pepper help to prevent various diseases like tumor progression and atherosclerosis. Moreover, these are also packed with beta carotene which helps to keep your skin and eyes healthy. So make sure you add this to your list of immunity-boosting foods to have on your table.
10. Sweet potatoes
These vegetables are packed with a type of antioxidant known as beta carotene. Beta carotene is a great source of vitamin A and helps to protect your skin against damage from UV rays.
Moreover, sweet potatoes consist of approximately 30% of our daily vitamin C requirement and 120% of our daily vitamin A requirement with only 100 calories. These nutrients are essential for our immune response. Sweet potatoes, apart from being fat-free and cholesterol-free, are also a rich source of fiber.
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But that’s not all.
Other Immunity Boosting Foods
Apart from these top 10 immunity boosting foods, there are many other foods that you can add to your diet to improve your immune system. Take a look:
- Green tea
- Sunflower seeds
- Citrus fruits like orange
- Greek yogurt
- Wheat Germ
- Peanut butter
- Baked beans
- Raisin bran
- Flax seed
- Chia seeds
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Egg yolks
- Raw Honey
Consume a variety of immunity boosting foods
If you are planning to eat more immunity boosting foods to keep yourself and your family safe from flu, viruses, and diseases, then ensure that you eat a wide variety of such foods. Consuming only your favorite food from the list above will not be much beneficial even if you eat that consistently.
Eating a balanced diet and different types of foods will make sure you stay healthy while improving your immune system. You also need to focus on recommended daily intake and serving sizes as well.
Our immune system is complex and eating a balanced diet is a great way to start improving it. You also need to focus on getting good sleep, regular exercise, and having a healthy lifestyle to live a long, healthy life.
If you are concerned about your health or your immune system, then it is best to consult a doctor.
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Good Article . Very useful tips.