The immune system is one of the most important components of the human body and is one of the reasons behind our survival. The immune system is a complex network of cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that work together to fight off foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can cause life-threatening illnesses and infections. The healthier your immune system, the faster it triggers an immune response and releases powerful antibodies and white blood cells that kill off these harmful pathogens. The only way to strengthen your immune system is to give it the nutrients it requires to boost its natural defense against infections.
If you want to prevent seasonal colds or other bacterial and viral infections, head down to your local whole foods market and add these immune-boosting foods to your cart today. These ingredients are both delicious and healthy and can be incorporated into your everyday meals.
The yellow spice hiding in your pantry waiting for your next curry dish to be whipped up is actually one of the most effective immune boosters you can find in nature. The golden, bitter herb contains over 300 nutrients and plant compounds including beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamin C, which are beneficial for every cell in the body. However, the secret to the herb’s immune charging properties lies in the compound known as curcumin.
Curcumin is the plant compound that gives turmeric it’s vibrant yellow color. One of the many reasons why turmeric has been dubbed the spice of life is because it helps enhance the body’s natural Immunomodulators and acts as a potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, which is handy for warding off infections. The anti-inflammatory response of turmeric is so powerful, studies have revealed that it is just as effective as NSAIDs such as Voltaren (Diclofenac).
Additionally, turmeric is known to be a food that that affects your mood by helping to combat depression.
#2 European Elderberry
The European or black elderberry has served as a natural remedy against viral and bacterial infections since the time of Hippocrates – the father of medicine. The flowers, stems, fruits, and leaves of the plant are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and plant compounds that help to activate, restore, and improve immune function against cold, flu, and other common infections.
The flavonoids that give the berries their rich purple color known as anthocyanins strengthen the immune system’s defense by stimulating the secretion of inflammatory cells. These inflammatory cells are what activate immune cells to help attack and destroy harmful cells and prevent them from binding to healthy cells and multiplying within the body.
Here’s another way to fight inflammation with food. Since Turmeric stems from the same family as ginger, it is not surprising that ginger also comes with its own immune-boosting superpowers. Ginger has been known to help reduce inflammation and decrease pain thanks to the chemical compound known as gingerol, which shares a similar chemical structure with piperine and capsaicin, the plant compounds that give chilies and black pepper their spicy bite.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are great for soothing a sore throat brought on by a cold or flu. Additionally, ginger also helps to settle stomach cramps and alleviate nausea.
Take it from Popeye, this superfood is one of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet. It is packed with beta carotene, folate, and antioxidants, which enables the body to produce more cells, repair damaged DNA and also boost the immune system’s infection-fighting capabilities. Additionally, leafy green vegetables like spinach are helpful in combating constipation.
Much like most leafy greens, overcooking spinach causes it to lose its beneficial nutrients, so it’s best to lightly cook it so that it retains as much of its nutrients as possible.
Similar to spinach, broccoli is also a super green food that offers a powerhouse of nutrients to every cell in the body. Broccoli contains immune-boosting vitamins such as vitamins A and C, which are vital for collagen synthesis, reducing oxidative stress, and protecting the eyes against age-related disorders and night blindness.
In addition to that, broccoli also contains high amounts of glutathione, an important antioxidant that helps to detoxify the body, enables various enzymes to function properly, and also plays a vital role in the production of DNA.
Not only does this kitchen staple bring out the flavors in your favorite dishes, but it also acts as an effective home remedy for colds, flu, and other illnesses.
Garlic contains immune-boosting sulfur compounds known as allicin, diallyl disulfide, and s-allyl cysteine. These compounds in raw garlic act as antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agents which help to fight off infections such as colds and flu.
In one study, researchers found that garlic had reduced the duration of cold symptoms by a staggering 70%! Various studies also suggest that garlic shows promise in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and also protecting the arteries from plaque buildup over time.
#7 Green Tea
Both green and black tea contain antioxidants and other flavonoids that offer a wide variety of health benefits. One flavonoid in particular, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) has been found to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and aid weight loss.
According to various studies, EGCG has shown promise in reducing the risk of heart and brain disease. While both green and black tea are rich in EGCG, black tea loses most of its EGCG content during the fermentation process. Since green tea is steamed and not fermented, it retains most of its EGCG content in the final product, making it the perfect immune-boosting drink during the cold and flu season.
This succulent summer fruit is a delicious way to quench your sweet tooth and boost your immune system at the same time. Watermelons are rich in nutrients and low in calories, making it the perfect fit for any type of diet.
A 2 cup serving of watermelon provides 30% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A, 25% of the RDI of vitamin C, and over 200mg of potassium, which is essential for fueling the body with electrolytes.
Watermelons are also rich in glutathione, an antioxidant found in plants that flush out heavy metals and environmental toxins from the body, improves immune function, and helps to reduce chronic inflammation linked to various autoimmune disorders.
#9 Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate usually gets a bad rep thanks to its sugar-laden counterpart we all know and love – milk chocolate. However, when eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can help boost the immune system and fight off damage caused by free radicals.
Dark chocolate also contains a natural compound called theobromine. According to research, theobromine is beneficial for lowering blood pressure levels, improving cognitive function, lowering cholesterol levels, and improving sleep quality. Finally, a sweet treat we actually benefit from!
Kefir is a fermented drink that is usually made from goat’s or cow’s milk. Kefir grains are added to the milk, which is then left for about 24 hours to ferment. But these grains are not typical cereal grains, they are actually made up of colonies of live bacteria and yeast. These live cultures in kefir are known as probiotics, which help to improve digestion and help fight off infections caused by harmful bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Helicobacter pylori.
Other Ways To Boost Your Immunity
While these top ten superfoods may help supercharge your immune system, making a few simple lifestyle changes can also help protect and strengthen your immune system’s defense against illnesses and infections. A few simple strategies you can put in place include:
- Washing your hands regularly
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Exercising daily
- Getting enough quality sleep
- Hydrating more
- Practicing proper oral hygiene
- Avoid smoking
- Reducing stress
- Maintaining a healthy diet and weight
These handy tips together with the immune-boosting foods listed above will ensure your immune system is firing on all cylinders and ready to fight off any bacteria or virus that comes its way!