It’s no secret that eating certain foods will make your immune system stronger. If you want to prepare your body for the winter colds and flu, take note of the following immune boosters and make sure to incorporate them in your meal planning:
Vitamin C can increase the production of white blood cells (WBCs). WBCs are key to fighting infections. Examples of citrus fruits include grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and clementines. Vitamin C is helpful in preventing common colds for people exposed to sickness-inducing environments such as cold weather and can help lower the duration and severity of a cold.
For people trying to avoid sugar in fruit, red bell peppers are an excellent alternative source of vitamin C. Red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. Bell peppers are also a rich source of beta carotene. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
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 vitamin E 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. They also contain manganese, magnesium, and fiber.
Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber. Broccoli contains a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane. Researchers claim that sulforaphane switches on antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells, which combat free radicals in your body and prevent you from getting sick. But be careful not to overcook this vegetable as it can lose its nutrients when exposed to too much heat.
Garlic is a common home remedy for the prevention of colds and other illnesses. It’s immune-boosting properties come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Garlic may also help lower blood pressure and slow down the hardening of the arteries.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and is likely to offer other health benefits. And, according to recent animal research, it may also help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses, as well as decrease nausea.
Spinach is a major superfood that is great for your overall health. Not only is it packed with digestion-regulating fiber, but it’s also rich in Vitamins A, C and E. It contains carotenoids (beta carotene) which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Spinach also has folate, which helps your body make new cells and repair DNA.
Curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, activates the production of T-cells, which are the main cells fighting for your health in your immune system. It’s also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory to treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, it can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.
White, green and black teas are packed with disease-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids that boost immunity and have anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant catechin is known to be a powerful antibacterial and antiviral and can kill off cold-starting bacteria and the influenza virus. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a person’s immune system. Studies found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get upper respiratory tract infections, or common colds, than those who did not.
Kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.
Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B-6. They’re also incredibly high in vitamin E, with 82 percent of the daily recommended amount in just a quarter-cup serving. Again, Vitamin E fights off free radicals, which can damage cells.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene. Beta carotene is a source of Vitamin A which mops up damaging free radicals. This helps bolster the immune system and may even improve the aging process.
Greek yogurt is filled with sickness-fighting probiotics and is packed with more protein than regular yogurt. Probiotics can help to prevent and treat the common cold. Researchers discovered that people who ate probiotics daily had a lower risk of catching a cold than those who didn’t eat any probiotic-rich food.