15 Natural Immune-Boosting Foods to Add to Your Diet
Your immune system is what protects you against nasties like bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins and even pollution. It’s a complex system of various cells, organs and proteins that all work together to give you front-line defense to battle invaders.
Your body’s immune system has two main parts. The innate immune system, which you’re born with, and the adaptive immune system, which you develop over time as your body is exposed to the world around you.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) that causes COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) is considered a novel – or new – pathogen. That means that your body’s adaptive immune system isn’t able to battle it alone if you’re unvaccinated. However, having a solid innate immune system is critical, vaccinated or not, as it will help avoid severe symptoms. Bolster it with the correct diet, including superfoods and natural supplements, like CBD products derived from hemp plants, to give your body the best fighting chance.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to 15 immune-boosting foods and supplements that you need to immediately start including in your diet.
1. Garlic: According to research from the University of Copenhagen, garlic contains sulfurous molecules capable of inhibiting the defense mechanism of bacteria. It has also traditionally been used as an antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal agent.
2. Yogurt: Plain yogurt is excellent for you, thanks to the vitamins, protein and probiotics it contains. A great source of lactobacillus, this probiotic will help improve gut health and bolster your immune system as a result.
Sautéed Scallops with Mushrooms and Spinach
3. Spinach: This is a versatile leafy green that you can eat in salads, lightly steamed and add to smoothies. It’s rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene, increasing your immune system’s infection-fighting ability.
4. Papaya: This sweet, soft fruit hails from Central America but is now grown in tropical regions worldwide. It’s a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C and Vitamin E, all essential antioxidants. In addition, the fiber is good for gut health and the folic acid in papaya converts potentially harmful homocysteine into less harmful amino acids.
5. Lobster: This delicious gift from the ocean is rich in zinc, which is great for boosting immune cells’ effectiveness. Best prepared in salted boiling water, be sure not to overcook your lobster as it will become tough and chewy.
6. Oysters: These shellfish are high in zinc like lobsters. They also contain selenium, a potent antioxidant that helps lower oxidative stress in your body. That means lower inflammation and increased immune response.
Red Capsicum and Hazelnut Pesto
7. Bell Peppers: Did you know bell peppers contain more vitamin C than most citrus fruits? That’s good news since vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that is involved in microbial defense.
8. Chicken: Chicken is a lean protein that will help boost your immune system in a heart-healthy way. There’s a good reason why chicken soup is so popular when we’re sick and need extra comfort. It also contains arginine, which helps with healing functions and fighting infection.
9. Almonds: A great addition to any diet, almonds are packed with vitamin E that will protect cells in your body from damage. That vitamin E is building a more robust immune system! Almonds are available raw, roasted, in nut butters and even as almond milk, giving you many ways to add them to your diet.
10. Hemp: The hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, has been used by various cultures worldwide for thousands of years. One specific derivative, cannabidiol (CBD), is being researched for its anti-inflammatory effects and benefits for the immune system. CBD can be added to your diet through simple-to-take CBD gummies or as CBD drops in your morning coffee or smoothie.
11. Ginger: This potent root vegetable is renowned for its flavor and ability to spice up an otherwise bland dish. Ginger has numerous health benefits, including bolstering immune response due to antioxidant activity and the stimulation of probiotics in the gut of those who eat it regularly.
12. Matcha: This specially ground green tea powder originated in Japan. This warm drink has been widespread and regularly consumed for thousands of years. In addition to providing the drinker with a slight caffeine boost, it is also rich in antioxidants which may reduce the damage done to cells in the body due to free radicals. Rich in catechins, matcha is being researched for its ability to combat metabolic disorders and boost immune health.
13. Turmeric: Best known in its bright yellow spice form, turmeric starts its life as a root much like ginger. It also contains high amounts of curcumin, which aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions. It can be incorporated into the food you eat or taken as a supplement in capsule form.
14. Kefir: You might not be familiar with this fermented milk drink, made from kefir grains which are a mesophilic symbiotic culture. This drink’s probiotic nature has been studied for its ability to modulate the immune system’s ability to suppress infections from viruses like Zika, hepatitis C and influenza.
15. Citrus Fruit: A class immune booster, popular citrus fruits include lemon, grapefruit, limes and, of course, oranges. But there are many others like pomelos, yuzu and sudachi, which are cultivated in various parts of the world. Whether eaten whole or as a juice, citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C and folate, essential to healthy immune cells and reducing inflammation.
Other Ways to Stay on Top of Viruses
You indeed are what you eat, and a healthy diet is important, but other measures can ensure you keep a healthy body. Additionally, taking precautions, so you don’t introduce the coronavirus into your system to begin with, is a great idea. We recommend the following:
- Wash your hands regularly and use a high quality hand sanitizer that doesn’t dry out your skin.
- Wear a mask when in public, especially while in enclosed or crowded spaces.
- Get 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise or activity per day.
- Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of clean, filtered water.
- Avoid things that will damage your immune system like junk food, smoking cigarettes and alcohol.
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