When it comes to boosting your immune health, just like every other health and wellness goal out there, proper goal-oriented dieting is one of the keys to success.
Certain foods have been proven to keep our immune system strong, and right now, in a time when everyone is looking for ways to prevent colds and stay flu-free, they’re turning to the grocery store shelves to find the best immune-boosting foods.
Today, I’m here to discuss 8 science-backed immune system boosters that you should be stocking up on if you want to stay healthy and protected from foreign invaders. (Not to mention, they’re delicious.)
Let’s get started.
1. CITRUS FRUITS
Some of the most healthy and popular citrus fruits include oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruits.
They are very popular in the wellness community specifically because they’re rich in vitamin C. Many people turn to vitamin C as soon as they catch a cold, and for good reason. Vitamin C has been proven to increase the production of white blood cells and infection-fighting antibodies that protect your system from illness and germs.
And since our bodies don’t produce vitamin C (or store if for that matter), we need to intake an adequate amount of vitamin C every day to ensure continued health. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, that’s why they’re first on this list. With such a wide variety of healthy and delicious choices, it’s easy to add a squeeze of vitamin C to any of your meals.
Greek yogurt specifically, since that’s the yogurt that will most often have the “live and active cultures” sticker printed on its label. These “cultures” have been linked to stimulating your immune system and helping it fight off diseases.
But instead of pre-flavored or sugar-rich yogurts, go for plain yogurt. After all, you can sweeten your plain yogurt with healthy fruits (or even a drip of honey) and make it a much healthier option than traditional sweetened yogurt you’ll find at the store.
Yogurt is a very popular choice during quarantine because it’s a great source of vitamin D, hence people often go for yogurt brands that are fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate and support your immune system, and it’s even thought to boost our body’s natural defense against illness.
Shellfish isn’t really what jumps to mind when you’re trying to boost your immune system, but actually, a few types of shellfish are loaded with Zinc.
Even though we tend to disregard Zinc when comparing it to many other vitamins and minerals, it’s actually one of the most vital aspects of a healthy body, and we need it so our immune system can actually function properly.
Zinc-rich shellfish options include lobster, clams, crab, and mussels.
Though you should keep in mind that, you most likely don’t want to have more Zinc than you really need. If you find yourself deficient in Zinc, these options should be your go-to, but if you’re already getting enough Zinc in your diet, you probably won’t benefit from adding on top of it.
Adult men should be consuming 11mg of Zinc, whereas women should be consuming around 8mg of Zinc every day to support immune system function and overall health.
When it comes to disease prevention, broccoli is kind of a superhero.
Not only is it supercharged with vitamins in minerals, including vitamin A, C, and E, but it also contains rich amounts of many antioxidants. It’s also packed with fiber. Put all these together, and you can clearly see why broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies you can have in your meals.
Broccoli is very easy to find in a grocery store since let’s be honest, it’s not really everyone’s first choice when it comes to sides to a meal. That being said, it’s still an immune-boosting food, and you’ll find a vast amount of nutrients inside it that are usually linked to protecting the body from damage.
Pro tip: the key to broccoli’s power is keeping it uncooked, or at the very least, cook it as little as possible.
Ginger is an ingredient that most people turn to only after they get sick. That’s because ginger has been linked to helping the body decrease inflammation, which helps you alleviate a sore throat or any other inflammatory reaction. It’s also known to bring relief to people with nausea.
If you haven’t been using ginger in your sweet desserts, start now! Ginger is an ingredient that has been shown to decrease chronic pain and even possess some properties that help the body lower the amounts of bad cholesterol.
And foods from the nut category in general. When it comes to preventing (and actually fighting off) a cold, almonds take the cake. They’re rich in vitamin E which is directly linked to a healthy immune system, although it sometimes takes a back seat to the more popular vitamin C.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, and this means it requires the presence of fat to be properly absorbed. This makes almonds a great option since they’re also full of healthy fats. A half-cup serving of almonds provides all 100 percent of the amount of vitamin E you need daily.
7. GREEN TEA
Green tea, although a drink, deserves a place on this list because it’s packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. It’s also full of a very powerful and important antioxidant called EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate.
For example, black tea goes through a fermentation process that heavily reduces the amount of EGCG, whereas green tea is steamed instead of fermented, so EGCG is preserved.
Green tea is also a rich source of L-theanine, an amino acid that’s vital in the production of germ-fighting compounds inside of the body’s T-cells.
Have you ever wondered why so many people recommend chicken soup when you’re sick? Well, it’s not a placebo effect!
Poultry, such as turkey and chicken, helps relieve the symptoms of a cold and keeps you safe from getting sick in the first place. Chicken and turkey are particularly high in vitamin B-6. 3 ounces of light chicken meat contains half of your recommended B-6 intake.
Vitamin B-6, in its own right, is a vital aspect of many chemical reactions inside the body. It’s also vital to the formation of healthy red blood cells. It helps gut health, improves immunity, and it’s chock-full of other nutrients that are important to the proper functioning of your body – such as gelatin and chondroitin.
When it comes to proper, healthy, immune-boosting nutrition, variety is the key. Focusing on one of these foods will bring you a health benefit, but no one food is enough to help you fight off the flu and keep you protected.
Pay attention to your daily intake of vitamins and minerals so you’re not getting too much of anything. But include these foods in your weekly grocery list, diversify your diet, and you’re guaranteed to see their health benefits.