Our immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs in your body that work together to defend against infection and disease. It also helps your cells bounce back after illness and even helps reduce the severity of an illness.
How to keep it strong?
Strong immunity comes from creating healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, stress reduction, and exercise. Nutrition also plays an important role, and consuming certain foods may help boost your immune system. Certain nutrients vital for a healthy immune system include vitamins A, C, and D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein.
Here are eight nutrient-rich foods listed below that can help strengthen your body’s natural defense system:
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are packed with vitamin C, an essential nutrient for boosting your immune system. Vitamin C helps to increase the production of white blood cells, which help protect the body against infection. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, vitamin C is helpful in preventing the common cold for people exposed to sickness-inducing environments, such as cold weather. It can also help lower the duration and severity of a cold.
Mushrooms contain anti-viral properties which can help protect against a variety of infections. The vitamin D found in mushrooms exposed to UV rays is important in maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamin D is known to enhance the function of immune cells, including T cells and macrophages, that protect your body against harmful pathogens.
Red Bell Peppers
Did you know that red bell peppers contain double the amount of vitamin C than citrus fruits? Just one medium-sized red bell pepper contains 152mg of vitamin C. (The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is roughly 75 mg per day for females and 90 mg per day for males). We all know vitamin C is essential to boost the immune system, but as our bodies do not produce vitamin C, we need to get it daily to create healthy collagen (the building blocks for skin and healing) and prevent infections by helping your body form beneficial antibodies.
This immune-boosting superfood is filled with antioxidants that can help treat colds. They are a great source of vitamin C which is essential to support a healthy immune system. Plus, they contain flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) which can help reduce damage to cells and boost your immune system. According to research conducted by the University of Auckland, consuming flavonoids made adults 33% less likely to catch a cold than those who did not eat flavonoid-rich foods daily.
Garlic has a reputation for being one of the best cold and flu fighters, as has been used for centuries as an infection fighter. When garlic is crushed, it produces allicin, which is thought to give garlic its immune-boosting properties. Garlic also has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties thought to fight off infections.
Ginger is packed full of potent anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants that protect your body from damage by free radicals. Gingerol, a compound found in ginger, has antimicrobial and antifungal properties that help fight infections and boost your immunity. It also helps ease inflammation which is helpful for swollen glands or a sore throat.
Broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C, and E which all work to strengthen your immune system. A study at the University of California in Los Angeles reported that broccoli can be a great addition to your diet to prevent a cold. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables showed to help boost immunity, according to the study. Researchers claimed that sulforaphane, a chemical found in the vegetable, turns on antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells, which combat free radicals in your body and prevent you from getting sick.
The vitamin E found in almonds is needed by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria. The healthy fats in nuts help the body absorb vitamin E. Almonds also contain iron and protein that are essential to healthy immune system function.