Everything we consume determines the way our body functions. That’s why it’s important to know what foods you can eat to boost your immune system.
Not only that, it’s also important to know which nutrients come from those foods and the roles they play in improving the function of your body’s immune system.
In this article, we’re going to break down some of the best foods that you can eat to maximize your body’s ability to fight off infections. So if you’re ready, let’s get started.
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1. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C which makes them one of the best foods for boosting your immune system. Vitamin C is a great immunity booster because it helps the body create new white blood cells which work naturally to ward off infections.
A one-cup serving of bell peppers, or about 150 milligrams, will provide you with almost double the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C.
Broccoli is a well-known staple in healthy diets. That’s because it’s a jack of all trades vegetable.
Broccoli provides adequate amounts of fiber that is needed to maintain gut health and clean out unwanted bacteria from your GI tract.
It’s also loaded with Vitamins A and C that will give your cells the energy and strength to fight when you need them the most.
Aside from providing your body with good omega fatty acids, tuna is one of the best sources of Vitamin B6.
This vitamin is incredibly important when it comes to enhancing your immune system and has been linked to decreasing the risk of cancer. Vitamin B6 also plays a crucial role in building antibodies, as well as regulating inflammation within the body.
Approximately 6 ounces of tuna will provide your body with around half of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin B6.
Other meats, such as chicken, turkey, and salmon are also a good source of Vitamin B6 as well.
4. Beef Liver
Beef liver isn’t something that sounds appetizing, nor is it a staple of most diets. The fact is, beef liver is good for your immune system because it can serve as a primary source of Vitamin B12.
This vitamin is typically known for giving your body an energy boost, but did you know that it also plays a role in the body’s immunity as well?
Vitamin B12 provides a boost for the natural killer cells which are a type of lymphocytes. This is good for fighting infections and helping the body recover from viruses.
Unfortunately, most people do not get enough of this vitamin in their diet. This is especially true for vegans and vegetarians because high doses of B Vitamins are not typically found in plant-based diets.
So if you eat mostly vegetables, you may consider Vitamin B12 supplements as long as it’s recommended by a doctor.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are packed with flavor and nutrition. Aside from providing you with good carbohydrates and fiber for gut health, they are also loaded with Vitamin A.
Vitamin A plays an important role in the structure and function of B and T cells which are involved in the body’s immune response. Vitamin A also assists in starting an antibody response that works to fight off infections.
Some other good sources of Vitamin A include spinach, carrots, and eggs.
If you’re like me and enjoy snacking between meals, it’s hard to find anything better and healthier than almonds.
Not only are they delicious, they are also loaded with Vitamin E which is great for your immune system. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps maintain cell walls and prevent damage when an infection is present.
Simply eating a handful of almonds per day is a great way to provide a quick boost for your immune system. Sunflower seeds and granola are some other good sources of Vitamin E as well.
Oysters are loaded with zinc, and that is why they are one of the best foods for your immune system. Zinc is a mineral that promotes immune cell maturation and performance, especially in T cells.
In general, oysters are one of the foods with the highest amounts of zinc. In fact, you should be able to get a daily recommended dose simply by eating 3 medium sized oyster.
Maybe you’re not a fan of oysters — I get it. Usually people either love them or hate them. If that’s the case, other shellfish like lobster, crab, and shrimp also contain sufficient doses of zinc as well.
Mushrooms are a great source of copper which makes them an excellent food for boosting your immune system. Copper helps the body increase the number of T cells which work to fight off infections. It also helps the body create new antibodies which are useful in combating infections as well.
Mushrooms can be eaten by themselves and they’re also delicious when mixed with sauces, pastas, or salads. They provide a tasty added flavor to your meal with some much needed nutrients as well.
Garlic promotes a healthy immune system because it contains a compound called Allicin.
Allicin is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation, but studies also found it to be a suitable treatment for certain infections. That is due to its ability to attack pathogenic cells and improve an immune system that has been weakened by certain drugs.
You can consume garlic raw, as a spice, or even as a supplement with the permission of your primary care physician.
Another spice you can use to improve your food’s flavor and get some immune benefits is turmeric. Turmeric has a compound called curcumin that is great for your overall health.
It has typically been used for fighting inflammation, but studies have shown that it also has an ability to improve your body’s antibody response as well. Not to mention, it serves as a natural way to help those suffering from immune disorders.
Similar to garlic, turmeric can be used as a spice or can be taken in capsule form as a supplement.
Does Sunlight Help Boost the Immune System?
I know the sun isn’t a food, but if you are looking for ways to improve your immune system, it would be foolish to not bring it up.
Simply spending 30 minutes in sunlight will allow your body to create Vitamin D naturally. This has several health benefits, but for this article, we’re primarily focusing on how it benefits the immune system.
Vitamin D increases the production of immune cells and cytokines which helps fight off unwanted pathogens in the body.
If you live in a non-sunny climate or are unable to go outdoors, salmon, tuna, and mushrooms are examples of some foods that are high in Vitamin D.
Boosting your immune system by changing your diet doesn’t have to mean eating foods that are outside of your normal diet. Simply by understanding the reason you’re eating certain foods and the impact of the nutrients is the key to making healthy choices and getting your body in infection-fighting shape.
I hope this article can help you select foods that not only taste great but also provide a boost to your immune system. By increasing your immunity, you will essentially be improving your overall health.
Thank you so much for reading and as always, breathe easy my friend.
The following are the sources that were used while doing research for this article:
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- “Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212925.
- Jagetia, Ganesh Chandra. “‘Spicing up’ of the Immune System by Curcumin.” PubMed, 9 Jan. 2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17211725.
- “Vitamin B6 and Cancer Risk: A Field Synopsis and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 31 Oct. 2016, academic.oup.com/jnci/article/109/3/djw230/2572054.
- Zarek, C. “Differential Expression of Genes Related to Gain and Intake in the Liver of Beef Cattle.” PubMed, 3 Jan. 2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28057050.
- Dwivedi, Ved Prakash. “Allicin Enhances Antimicrobial Activity of Macrophages during Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Infection.” PubMed, 28 Oct. 2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30537531.
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- Gautam, Subhash. “Immunomodulation by Curcumin.” PubMed, 25 Aug. 2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569218.
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