Boosting your immune system is a topic that often comes up as winter sets in. Adults and children start to get the sniffles. The yearly discussion about flu shots starts up again with all the arguments for and against. Magazines run articles on how to stave off winter illnesses like the common cold. Vitamin C flies off the shelves in your local health food store!
While those things are great to focus on as winter arrives, the old saying is definitely true, prevention is better than a cure.
What if you chose to keep your immune system functioning well all year long? What if you were kind to yourself, improved what you ate and were ready for winter when it arrived?
1. Brightly colored vegetables. You probably already know that you should eat a variety of the colorful vegetables. But do you know why? The bright green, yellow and orange vegetables have the highest amounts of carotenoids like beta carotene. These are antioxidants which help your immune system to keep in shape. Try vegetables such as capsicum, carrots and squash. Choose a large variety and don’t think you have to just eat boring salads every day. Include these vegetables in hearty soups, add vegetables to your next lasagna or grate them up to hide them in meatloaf or meatballs.
2. Nuts. Nuts are full of antioxidants and vitamins. Most importantly they contain a good dose of zinc. Eating nuts may lower risk your risk of chronic disease and they are so easy to keep in your bag for when you need a quick snack.
3. Berries. Vitamin C is present in berries in very large amounts. Vitamin C is thought to prevent injury to cells and is therefore very useful in boosting your immune system. Dark berries in particular contain large doses of bioflavonoids that can act as antioxidants which will attack the free radicals moving around your body. You should consume mixed berries as it is thought they all work together to give you the best boost. And they taste great too!
4. Chocolate. WHAT! Chocolate is junk food! Maybe not. Cocoa is an immune boosting food. And chocolate certainly contains cocoa. If you reduce the fat and sugar content and consume the cocoa you may be able to increase your good cholesterol and decrease the chance of heart disease. Now that hot cup of steaming cocoa is actually an immune booster. Just go easy on the sugar!
5. Fish. Fish are a great source of omega 3 fats and many people are deficient in these. Choose the fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon to get the best dose. Zinc is also present in fish. Our bodies can’t make zinc so we need to consume it. Zinc helps with cell building, including your immune cells. Lean meat is another great source of zinc.
6. Garlic. Garlic fights infection and bacteria (and maybe vampires!) With antiviral properties and also antibacterial features, garlic promotes the growth of your white blood cells. It’s also an antioxidant and is one of the easiest foods to include in your diet. Add it into soups, casseroles and sauces. Include it in salad dressings or roast it with vegetables. There are so many options to use garlic every day.
7. Yogurt. We all need more of the good bacteria in our bodies and yogurt is a great source. Live cultures in yogurt can help stop colds in their tracks!
8. Tea. Tea contains an amino acid that assists the immune system to stay boosted. L-theanine is present in all types of tea. Even decaf has healthy doses of it. So drink up!
9. Mushrooms. If you want your body to fight infection you need to eat foods that can increase the activity and new production of white blood cells. Mushrooms are that food. There are many different types of mushrooms and they can be used in all sorts of ways to give you the best benefits.
10. Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain large doses of vitamin A. Our skin needs good amounts of vitamin A to keep it healthy. When the largest organ in your body is healthy, you have a much better chance of staving off infection.
So there you have the 10 best foods to boost your immune system.
Try to make your diet interesting and varied. If you get bored with fruit and vegetables, try to buy something you’ve never tried before and go for a little more than the usual apples and oranges in the fruit bowl. Remembering to mix up the colors of what you eat can be all that you need to spike your interest and enjoyment.