Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. If you’re looking for ways to prevent winter colds and the flu, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. Plan your meals to include these 8 powerful immune system boosters.
- Citrus fruits
Most people turn to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. That’s because it helps build up your immune system. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are key to fighting infections.
Popular citrus fruits include:
Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.
Garlic is found in almost every cuisine in the world. It adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health. Garlic may also help lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
Spinach made our list not just because it’s rich in vitamin C. It’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. It is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.
When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. But this bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Also, research shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.
- Oily Fish
The Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish—such as salmon, trout, halibut, and tuna—help boost our kids’ immune systems by increasing the activity of phagocytes, which are white blood cells that combat harmful bacteria. Omega 3 also decreases inflammation, which may help to protect your kids’ lungs from infection and colds. Many varieties of shellfish also contain a substantial amount of Selenium, which can help prevent or clear flu viruses out of your child’s body.
Oats and barley are high in soluble fibre, specifically one called beta-glucan. This type of fibre has anti-microbial and antioxidant qualities, which help your immune system protect you from influenza and other illnesses. Soluble fibre also decreases inflammation, which helps us heal faster from an infection.
It is important to remember that the immune system is complex. Eating a healthful, balanced diet is just one way to support immune health. It is also essential to be mindful of the other lifestyle factors that may affect immune system health, such as exercising and not smoking.