As cold and flu season comes closer, it is important to support your immune system so that it can fight off bacterial and viral infections.
There is no ‘cure’ for the common cold or the flu, but by nourishing our bodies with a healthy diet full of nutrients can boost our immune system. Eating properly and leading a healthy lifestyle can definitely help prevent catching the flu in the first place.
White blood cells work to fight bacteria and harmful toxins. However, to perform effectively, these cells need to regenerate in an effort to defend you from feeling ill.
There are a number of foods we can consume to feed our white blood cells with the proper nutrients so that they can grow stronger and hence boost our immune system.
Top 10 Superfoods that will boost your Immune system are:
1. Citrus fruits
Citrus such as oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are an excellent source of vitamin C. Citrus contains a unique type of nutrient that automatically reduces cholesterol and increases the production of white blood cells which helps maintain the body’s defense against bacterial infections and keeps your skin smooth and elastic.
Your body does not produce or store it, so you need vitamin C daily for continued health. Citrus fruits also have good amounts of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly, including B vitamins, magnesium, and copper.
Citrus foods have various health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Compounds present in citrus foods include over 60 varieties of flavonoids, carotenoids and essential oils which are responsible for many health benefits including booting the Immune system.
With vitamin C, beta-carotene and plenty of anti-oxidants, spinach is a perfect vegetable for your immune system.
It is also packed with zinc, plus spinach has a lot of vitamin A, which has been shown to boost immunity.
Consuming vitamin A during pregnancy boosts the baby’s immune system for life. If you want to get the most of it though, cook it as little as possible or even keep it raw.
Garlic is also an immune system warrior, protecting the body from infections and illness because it has antiseptic, anti-fungal and nutritive properties.
Garlic contains nutrients particularly with vitamin B1, B6 and C, iron and phosphorus and alliin which converts to allicin which is thought to be the major antibacterial constituent of garlic. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure, inhibit blood clotting and promote healthy cholesterol level.
There is not a recommended daily allowance for garlic you can have 1-4 cloves a day which provides about 4,000mcg of alliin. Garlic lovers who eat six cloves a week have 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and 50% lower rate of stomach cancer.
4. Probiotic foods
Probiotics are bacteria or yeast that reside in our body and help in improving overall health. They help in stimulating the natural digestive juices and enzymes in our body that keep our digestive organs functioning properly.
Probiotics have the ability to make your immune system strong. They fight bacteria that cause diarrhea and are useful in treating many other ailments as well. Including probiotic in your daily life ensures that you have a good and healthy digestive system. But it should be done gradually and the quantity should be gradually increased.
Probiotic foods and supplements are easily available in the market, but consuming natural food items rich in probiotic is a better option. The best probiotic foods are apple, dark chocolate, pickles, soya milk, and yogurt.
Green tea and chamomile tea can help strengthen the immune system both are loaded with powerful antioxidants unique to each tea.
Green tea is of greater scientific interest, due to its potentially positive effects on the mind and body, particularly on the immune system. By strengthening immune agents, protecting against oxidative stress that can damage cells and prevent autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, green tea is thought to be highly beneficial for the human body.
The amino acid that is responsible for the immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in green tea. Catechin a type of antioxidant in green tea, is thought to have a role in protecting against certain types of cancer, including mammary cancer after its initial growth has begun.
These catechins are thought to function as tumor-fighting agents, directly preventing the growth of cancerous tumors but they are also helpful in supporting the immune system as a response to exposure to carcinogens or known cancer-causing compounds.
Ginger is another ingredient many turns to after getting sick. Ginger is filled with immune-boosting benefits, so it helps support the immune system and it can help prevent nausea and soothe an upset stomach. Ginger reduces fever, sore throats, and encourages coughing to remove mucus from the chest.
The chemicals Shogaols and gingerols in ginger give it that spicy kick that stimulates blood circulation and opens your sinuses. Improved circulation means that more oxygen is getting into your tissues to help remove toxins and viruses.
Ginger has the ability to treat and prevent flu infections.
Honey is a single food with a number of health benefits. It has been used for thousands of years as a food source and contains numerous antiseptic and antibiotic properties. Prior research has shown that honey has the ability to stimulate the immune system.
The benefits of honey go beyond its great taste. A great natural source of carbohydrates which provides strength and energies to our bodies, honey is known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting the
performance, endurance and reduce muscle fatigue during exercise.
Honey possesses carcinogen-preventing and anti-tumor properties.
Berries are rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables that work as antioxidants and prevent injury to cells.
Blueberries and raspberries both contain the flavonoid anthocyanin, which helps your body produce adiponectin, a hormone that has been linked to lower glucose levels, curbed cravings, and boosted metabolism, Berries are a great source of fiber, an essential nutrient that improves digestion and helps beat bloat.
Studies also show that berries and their polyphenols have the ability to protect against the influenza virus responsible for the flu. One cup of strawberries contains as much as 100 mg of vitamin C, which is nearly as much as a cup of orange juice.
Nuts like almonds, peanuts and walnuts are a great source of fats and protein. These protein-packed powerhouses of vitamins and minerals are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc along with good amount of antioxidants.
They are very often linked with various health benefits such as better cholesterol levels, better immune system, and better heart health and can also aid in the process of weight loss.
Consuming nuts may help you adapt and react to stress better.
Mushrooms have the ability to boost the immune system and fight many diseases by providing numerous important vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
Mushrooms are also high antioxidant food which means they fight free radical damage. Mushrooms contain a wide variety of bioactive molecules that have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities. Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins and anti-oxidants.
The B vitamins play a part in healthy immune functions while selenium has been linked to a decreased risk of severe infections.