What you eat directly influences your immune system. As far back as 400BC, Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates recognized the importance of nutrition to prevent or cure disease. Today, we know which foods can boost your immune function.

Colorful fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins C, A and phytonutrients that support your immune system. Eat plenty of leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. These vegetables help fight intestinal pathogens by ensuring immune cells in the gut are functioning properly. Citrus fruits and blueberries contain antioxidants that reduce the normal daily wear and tear on your body, decrease effects of aging and boost the immune system. Aim for 3-4 servings of fruits and 4+ servings of vegetable daily.

Drink plenty of fluids. Warm fluids are better. Water helps bring oxygen to all the cells in the body which results in a properly functioning system. Make soups and broths from fresh vegetables. Drink plenty of herbal teas with ginger and echinacea. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and other sweetened beverages.

Eat protein with each meal. Protein provides the building blocks for your immune and detoxification systems. Choose organic, clean and lean meat protein. Good plant-based protein includes legumes, nuts and seeds. Make sure snacks also contain protein.

Add plenty of spices to your food. Not only does it taste great but it also wards off microbes so your immune system does not have to work so hard! Use plenty of garlic, onion, turmeric, and ginger.

Eat fish. Fish contain good fat called omega-3 fatty acids which increase the activity of the cells that make up your immune system. They may also be important for producing compounds that regulate the immune system so the body is not damaged from super infections. Cod and halibut contain vitamin A which has an anti-inflammatory effect. Salmon and sardines contain vitamin D which helps control the immune response.

Eat foods rich in beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are a form of soluble dietary fiber that up-regulate the immune system. Beta-glucans are found in whole grains, barley fiber and oats, along with shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, and algae.

Avoid sugars or white flour and refined grains that turn in to sugar quickly (“white carbs”). Studies show that refined sugars suppress the immune system for hours after being eaten.

Anti-inflammatory foods work to reduce whole body inflammation. They are especially important in people who suffer from autoimmune conditions. When eaten in appropriate quantities, anti-inflammatory foods boost your immune system and help prevent disease.

Here is a summary of powerful foods to boost your immune function:

Foods That Reduce Inflammation:

1. Salmon and other fatty fish with omega-3’s
2. Probiotics, found in cultured foods like yogurt and kefir
3. Olive Oil
4. Sour Cherries
5. Walnuts and other tree nuts
6. Peppers
7. Ginger
8. Turmeric
9. Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and bok choy (chinese cabbage)
10. Berries such as blueberries

Foods With the Highest Level of Antioxidants:

1. Small red beans
2. Blueberries, wild
3. Red kidney beans
4. Pinto beans
5. Blueberries, cultivated
6. Cranberries
7. Artichokes
8. Blackberries
9. Raisins

Even small changes in your diet can go a long way towards improving your health. Use the above lists as a guide so you can eat better and boost your immune system.

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