A healthy immune system is the key to overall health. The good news is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive supplements. The solution may be on your plate! Here are the best foods to boost the immune system naturally.
It is no secret that citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which is the best vitamin to boost the immune system. An adult needs between 65 and 90 mg per day, but the maximum allowance is 2000 mg. For women, the recommended average is 75 mg, while for men 90 mg. Just a small 120 grams of grapefruit will give you about 38 mg of vitamin C.
If you’re not much of a lover of eating plain grapefruit or lemons, you can create some delicious drinks to boost the immune system. Add 1 to 2 oranges and 1 grapefruit to your daily intake and you’ll be very close to meeting your daily recommended vitamin C dose. If you want more sweetness, you can try different combinations. Orange juice makes a great base for smoothies!
Blueberries are another great food to eat in order to naturally boost your immune system. They contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which is an antioxidant that supports the immune system. On top of that, medical studies show that flavonoids in blueberries may support the respiratory tract. Results showed that people who eat foods rich in flavonoids have fewer upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold.
You’re probably used to thinking that ginger is just a remedy for nausea or a condiment in certain foods, but it is much more than that. It contains gingerol which has powerful antioxidant effects. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory effects, which not only can alleviate arthritis but also help support the immune system.
If you don’t like eating plain ginger, you can create a few amazing drinks to boost your immune system. For instance, you can boil a bit of ginger with some lemon for a great ginger tea, which may help to alleviate a sore throat and even a dry cough.
One way to boost the immune system using ginger is to have ginger shots! You simply juice 1 to 2 pieces of ginger and drink the resulting “shot.” Finally, you can add a small piece of ginger to your smoothies. The effect won’t be as strong as that of a shot, but you’ll still get plenty of benefits from it.
Another food that may provide you with an immune boost is spinach, which is high in flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids. Vitamins C and E, along with vitamin D have been the center of some medical studies which show they have a huge role in supporting immunity.
That’s why if you start looking for supplements to boost the immune system, you will most certainly find these three vitamins in the composition.
5. Dark Chocolate
You probably weren’t expecting to find dark chocolate on a list of best foods to boost the immune system, but it certainly belongs here. That’s because it contains theobromine, an antioxidant that protects the cells from free radicals, thus boosting immunity. Don’t forget that chocolate also comes with plenty of saturated fats, though, so moderation is advised!
Garlic is probably one of the best-known home remedies for preventing colds after lemons and citrus in general. And for good reason. A 2014 study suggests that those who use garlic-based immune-boosting supplements get sick less frequently than those who don’t. In the study, participants who were on placebo got sick twice more than those on the supplement. Another study, performed in 2015, complements those findings, showing the immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties of garlic.
If you’re looking for a way to get your daily vitamin E without using supplements, you should include almonds in your diet. Just half a cup (about 46 almonds) will provide almost 100% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin E.
Almonds are also high in antioxidants and may help control blood sugar. You may think that blood sugar levels don’t have anything to do with your immune system, but they do. Healthy, stable blood sugar levels contribute to the proper function of all major organs, help your body better absorb nutrients and thus helping to support the immune system.
8. Sweet Potatoes
Colorful and delicious, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which is a fantastic source of vitamin A.
Vitamin A might not be as commonly discussed when it comes to vitamins and supplements that boost the immune system, but its role has been proven through various medical studies. For instance, a 2018 study showed the relationship between chronic vitamin A deficiency and lung issues. Another study showed that vitamins A and D may help improve the immune response.
An alternative to sweet potatoes for getting all your vitamin A is carrots, so if you’re trying to cut back on calories, you can still get your daily boost.
Not a common recommendation when it comes to boosting your immune system, shellfish are high in zinc, which is a mineral with a crucial role for immunity. Studies show zinc has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, thus helping your body fight infections with ease. Crab, lobster and oyster are 3 shellfish rich in zinc, so don’t hesitate to add them to your diet in moderation.
The last on this list of best foods to boost the immune system, but certainly not the least important is oily fish, such as salmon or tuna. These are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids have a crucial role in the proper functioning of the immune system, as shown by a 2019 medical study. They are also known to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disorder.
Slowly adding one or more of the foods on this list to your diet won’t take much work, but you may reap noticeable benefits. Whether you are taking a daily ginger shot, eating fish every week or enjoying oranges and blueberries, you are nourishing your body with the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
Don’t forget, however, that to have great immunity, there’s much more to do than just eat certain foods. An overall balanced diet is important, but regular exercise is also essential to staying healthy.