Don’t let the coming cold season get you in its clutches. Avoid falling sick by eating these 15 foods that boost the immune system.
The immune system protects us from illness and disease. This sounds simple, but there are countless types of pathogens and ways they attack the body. We have bacteria, viruses, parasites, mutated cells, and even misfolded proteins waging war against our health. This war is constant and intense. Thousands of different species of bacteria live on our skin alone, and even more live inside of us, some good and some not so good. These pathogens constantly evolve and adapt to better survive their environments, resist drugs, avoid detection, and find new ways into the body. Fortunately, our immune system is also adaptive and multifaceted, incorporating the skin, respiratory system, digestive system, lymphatic system, many organs, mucus membranes, and a throng of specialized cells in the battle to keep us healthy.
You can do many things to keep your immune system at peak performance. Drink plenty of clean, purified water. Hydration is important to every system in the body, and the immune system relies heavily on consistency of circulatory fluid both in lymphatic vessels and blood vessels. Nutrition and exercise play a role in resisting disease for the same reason. Eating well supplies the body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to work, and exercise improves the circulation of disease fighting cells and nutrients.
What we’re exposed to as children is also important. Breast feeding is crucial to supplying infants with antibodies that help them resist infection while their bodies learn what is safe and what isn’t. Some exposure to pathogens early on can be a good thing. It’s how our bodies figure things out, especially for young children. This doesn’t mean you should forgo all hygiene or put yourself at unnecessary risk, but a little dirt and germs are part of building a strong immune system that doesn’t overreact when faced with something new. Children who grow up on a farm or have pets are less likely to develop allergies.
There are also plenty of foods that help boost the immune system. They help prevent disease or ease you through a cold faster. Fresh and raw foods are a great place to start. They supply a ton of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep illness at bay, but here are a few of the superstars.
Fermented foods help the friendly bacteria in the body thrive. They, in turn, take out the less friendly varieties and help us break down foods that can be hard to digest. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and Ormus Supergreens are a good place to start.
Oats and Barley
These grains contain beta-glucans, a fiber that has antimicrobial, anticarcinogenic, and antioxidant properties. They stimulate the immune system, making it more efficient.
Garlic contains allicin, which fights bacterial infections and cancer. Garlic also has beneficial effects on the circulatory system, and any boost to your circulatory system improves immunity and many other aspects of health.
Nuts and Seeds
Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds are a rich source of selenium, which helps white blood cells produce the proteins they need to clear out viruses. Pumpkin seeds provide zinc, which is important in the development of white blood cells.
Dark chocolate is another good source of zinc to boost the immune system. It also releases endorphins that reduce stress. Stress can have a negative effect on the immune system.
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides that combat viruses, fungi, bacteria, and some parasites, especially once they’ve been digested. They also boost energy levels and reduce inflammation.
Curcumin, the powerful, pungent, and colorful compound in turmeric, helps the body destroy many types of cancer cells. It may also kill harmful bacteria in the intestines.
These healthier versions of potatoes are rich in beta carotene, a component of healthy skin when transformed into vitamin A. The skin is the first line of defense against infection. Vitamin A is also important to T-Cells and natural killer cells.
Mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, the immune boosting fiber, and selenium to increase production and activity of white blood cells. We’re just beginning to understand the many other compounds in mushrooms that bolster health.
Cabbage contains sulfur compounds that are antimicrobial. It also contains glutamine, an amino acid used by immune cells during times of stress, inflammation, and infection, especially by lymphocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils.
This melon contains glutathione, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system. It also contains citrulline, another amino acid linked to immune health.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Spinach is an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin that helps repair DNA and aids the body in producing new cells.
These are some of the best sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C’s link to the immune system is often debated. No matter what you believe, vitamin C is still a powerful antioxidant that protects against cellular damage.
Another excellent source of vitamin C and also capsaicin. Capsaicin improves circulation, reduces pain and inflammation, thins mucus, and acts as an antioxidant. It has been linked to reducing the growth of some cancers too.
This nutrient-dense vegetable boosts immune function with sulfur compounds and supplies a ton of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s also very easy to use in thousands of recipes.