8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System
Did you know that you can find natural immune system boosters in certain foods? Choose healthy foods that boost your immune system, and cut down on the days you miss from work or school due to illness!
Vitamin C increases the amount of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies in your body, raises the body’s good cholesterol, and lowers the risk of certain types of cancer. Just 200 milligrams a day works well and can be obtained by eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The Vitamin C foods that boost your immune system best are guava, papaya, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, orange, and grapefruit. Vitamin C supplements are also an option.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, those that seek out and destroy germ and cancer cells. Vitamin E is found naturally in foods such as nuts (like almonds) and seeds (like sunflower seeds) and is added to some fortified foods.
Beta carotene is the most familiar carotenoid. It increases the number of infection-fighting cells, and is a powerful antioxidant that helps slow the aging process. Carotenoids can also lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Foods that boost your immune system that are high in carotenoids are carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, and tomatoes.
This group of phytonutrients aids the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against environmental pollutants and reduces cholesterol’s ability to cause clots in the arteries. A diet that contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at least six servings per day, is all you need. Foods that boost your immune system containing bioflavonoids include: berries, cherries, grapes, and true fruit juices, true teas (not herbal teas), grains, celery, parsley, grapefruit, oranges, apple skin, onions, endive, radishes, tomatoes, leeks, broccoli, and red wine.
This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells which fight infection. Zinc also helps the body’s white blood cells fight more aggressively and can help the body fight cancer as well. However, since too much zinc in the form of supplements (more than 75 milligrams a day) can inhibit immune function, it is safest to stick with getting zinc from your diet and to aim for just 15 to 25 milligrams a day. Foods that boost your immune system that are rich in zinc are oysters, crab, beef, turkey (dark meat), and beans.
This flavorful member of the onion family stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white blood cells. Recipes with garlic can be easily found in most cookbooks.
This mineral increases natural killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells. The best food sources of selenium are tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts, and lamb chops.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These immune system boosters that are found primarily in flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and sardines) increase the activity of the cells that eat up bacteria. Essential fatty acids also protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. When taking essential fatty acid supplements, such as flax or fish oils, take additional vitamin E which acts together with essential fatty acids to boost the immune system. One way to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is to add one to three teaspoons of flax oil or four tablespoons of flax seed to a fruit and yogurt smoothie.
As you can see, it’s not difficult to incorporate foods that boost your immune system into your diet. Begin to experiment with eating more of these delicious foods, and pay attention to how much better you feel. Take note of how many fewer sick days you need to take, too!