Foods To Boost Your Immune System
While the coronavirus pandemic presents many uncertainties and has imposed various restrictions on our daily lives, one thing is for certain: we are all susceptible to COVID-19 and none of us can totally eliminate the risk of getting this virus. In case someone catches the coronavirus, their immune system will be responsible for fighting it. For this reason, we need to take measures and involve such activities in our life that can strengthen our immune system.
Eating healthy is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle and research has shown that eating healthy and improving nutrition helps in keeping the immune system strong. Certain foods, particularly those which are rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals can help boost the immune system.
Micronutrients that are essential to fight infections and boost immunity include vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, as well as the minerals iron, zinc, and selenium. Thus, as much as possible, we need to focus on eating a variety of foods containing these micronutrients
Here’s a list of foods to boost your immune system and supports a healthy immune system.
Citrus Fruits and Juices
Vitamin C, the main nutrient in citrus fruits, is known for playing a key role in supporting a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is a vital nutrient that also acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are known to be useful in fighting free radicals, which is known for damaging the immune system. Different studies have also suggested that vitamin C can be beneficial in improving the immune systems of people suffering from stress or having suboptimal blood levels. It is thus very important to include food rich in vitamin C in your diet.
Try to include citrus fruits or their juices to your daily diet to stay healthy and to bolster your immunity. Add orange (one medium orange on average provides 70 mg of vitamin C), grapefruit (one medium grapefruit on average provides 90 mg of vitamin C) or kiwifruit (includes 64 mg of vitamin C) in your diet to stay healthy and to fulfill your body’s requirement for vitamin C. Other popular citrus fruits that are rich in vitamin C include tangerines, limes, lemons, and clementines.
Red Bell Pepper
Red bell peppers are a major source of Vitamin C and interestingly enough contains more vitamin C content than citrus fruits. On average, a medium raw red bell pepper contains around 150 mg of vitamin C. In addition to boosting your immunity, vitamin C also helps in maintaining healthy skin. Red bell peppers are also a good source of beta carotene which helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Sunflower Seeds and Almonds
Like vitamin C, vitamin E is also known to be a great antioxidant and plays a key role in building immunity. Research suggests that it is very important to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin E, especially for older people for maintaining a healthy immune system. As vitamin E is fat-soluble, it improves the activity of immune cells and enables them to support the body’s ability to ward off attacking bacteria and viruses.
An ounce, which is around a quarter cup of sunflower seeds, fulfills about half of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E. Similarly an ounce of almonds supplies about 45% of the daily target for vitamin E. Some other foods which are rich in vitamin E include hazelnuts, peanut butter, and wheat germ oil.
Broccoli is rich in vitamins and minerals and is packed with vitamins A, C, K, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber besides being a good source of folic acid. This superfood has numerous health benefits like it controls blood pressure, builds stronger bones and aids in iron absorption. Make sure to cook it as little as possible to keep its power intact.
Baked Beans and Chickpeas
Zinc plays a very important role in boosting your immune system. As zinc is involved in the production of certain immune cells, its adequate amount is essential for the normal development and functioning of the immune system and even slightly low levels of zinc can harm the functioning of the immune system.
Food rich in zinc should be made an essential part of your daily meals. A cup of baked beans offers about half of the recommended daily target for zinc, while an ounce of pumpkin seeds provides about 20%. Some other major sources of zinc include oysters, cashews and raisin bran.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of essential fatty acid popular for its anti-inflammatory qualities. It suppresses inflammation, keeps the immune system in check and protects against immune system disorders. Walnuts are super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are also a source of several other key nutrients involved in supporting the immune system, like vitamins E and B6, copper, and folate (folic acid).
Garlic is famous for its immune-boosting capabilities. It is universally known for its ability to fight infections and is used in almost every cuisine around the world. Research suggests that garlic can also help lower blood pressure and promote heart health. It also helps in improving immune cells’ function. Don’t forget to add fresh cloves of garlic to your veggies, soup, or broth.
Another ingredient that plays a key role in supporting a healthy immune system is ginger. People around the world widely use ginger as a spice and folk medicine. It contains anti-inflammatory properties and hence serves to reduce sore throat, muscle pain and other inflammatory diseases. Historically ginger decreases nausea. Several studies suggest that ginger could help in the treatment of diabetes as well.
Sweet Potato and Carrots
Carotenoids are another type of antioxidant. Belonging to a class of pigments, carotenoids are naturally present in numerous plants. Carotenoids are the precursor to vitamin A as they convert into vitamin A when you consume, which then helps regulate the immune system. Carotenoids aid the immune system and help in white blood cell production, which fights viruses and bacteria.
Additionally, carotenoids help in forming the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract. These membranes create a protective barrier and hence keep germs out of the body. A baked sweet potato fulfills over 150% of the daily vitamin A need. While a cup of raw carrots provides the entire daily recommended intake. Apricots, papaya, and mango are other popular sources of carotene. You should consume them to ensure a healthy immune system.These are great foods to boost your immune system.
Green vegetables contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants and their regular use can play a very important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. They are rich in vitamins, folate, minerals, and disease-fighting chemicals. They are also rich in fiber, which supports digestion hence aiding weight loss. Fiber also helps in controlling blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates. Green leafy vegetables help in maintaining healthy skin and hair. One cup of raw kale is enough to fulfill your entire daily requirement for vitamins A, C and K.
Also, it contains a sufficient amount of B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and copper. One cup of raw spinach, another green vegetable provides 56% of your daily recommended target for vitamin A as well as your entire daily requirement for vitamin K. Some other green vegetables that are popular for supporting a healthy immune system include romaine lettuce, collard greens, cabbage, and chard.
Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, and also enhances healthy gut bacteria. Vitamin D is famous for boosting your body’s natural defenses against diseases and hence regulate the immune system. Live and active cultures present in the yogurt can stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Add yogurt to your diet to stay healthy and to boost your immune system.
Vitamin B-6 is a key player in many of the chemical reactions that take place in the body. It also plays a crucial rule in the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is rich in vitamin B-6 and helps in boosting the immune system. Poultry is high in protein content and thus helps in sustaining your muscles. That is why when you are sick, chicken soup not only makes you feel good but also helps in reducing symptoms of a cold. In fact, it helps guard you against getting sick in the first place and keeps you healthy.
Brazil Nuts and Fish
Selenium is an important antioxidant and helps in protecting the immune cells against any attacks that can damage the DNA. Insufficient amounts of this mineral can cause a delay in the immune response. Hence adequate amounts of selenium maintain a healthy immune system. One ounce of Brazil nuts or about six to eight whole nuts fulfills the entire daily value for selenium. Tuna and sardines are other excellent sources of selenium. Make sure to add these selenium high foods to your diet for a healthy immune system.