Top 10 Foods That Boost The Immune System

Category: Healthy Living


Posted on May 13, 2021

Posted May 13, 2021

foods to boost the immune system
Author: Precio Daramola, M.D., FACS, AMWA

A licensed health professional and creative writer. Her passion for creating quality medical contents go way back to her undergraduate days when she worked as intern in a large publishing firm as a freelance editor. Precio has up to 10 years experience doing what she knows how to do best and when she is not writing or editing, she loves to take long walks with her dogs.

The immune system helps to protect us from a number of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and toxins— and is responsible for the removal of foreign bodies and malignant cells from our system. The immune system also helps to down-regulate immune responses against external harmless triggers such as food, or against the bodies' own tissue. A strong immune system is highly beneficial for anyone; as it plays a very important protective role by first creating a barrier that stops foreign bodies called antigens from entering the body. In addition, the immune system produces white blood cells, and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy these foreign bodies if they eventually enter the body.

There are many steps you can take to strengthen your immune system to help fight infections and reduce the risk of contracting highly contagious diseases. One of the best ways to boost your immune is by choosing particular kinds of foods that will help you stay healthy. Proper nutrition is essential for your immune system to work well. Eating healthy, antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein will help you maintain a good immune system health to help get rid of infection and illness. On the other hand, taking more of diet high in empty calories will not only lead to weight gain, but it can leave you more prone to infections. If you are looking for how to boost your immune system, the following are 10 foods that have been proven to be immune system friendly:

1. Citrus fruits

Most citrus fruits are known to be rich in vitamin C— a very essential vitamin which helps to build up your immune system. Vitamin C helps to increase the production of white blood cells, which are crucial in fighting infections. Popular citrus fruits include— grapefruit, oranges, clementines, tangerines, lemons and limes. Since the body does not produce or store vitamin C, it is therefore required to be consumed daily for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adults is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. In the case of supplements, you should not take more than 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day.


2.  Blueberries

Blueberries have antioxidant properties that may boost the immune system.. They contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that are highly beneficial in boosting your immune system. Research on the health benefits of flavonoids have shown that they play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system.


3.  Broccoli

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables alike are very healthy vegetables that are rich in vitamins (vitamins A, C, and E) and minerals. They also contain a great deal of fiber and many other antioxidants which are very good for your health. From research, we are made to know that sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant in the vegetable plays a role in combating free radicals in your body and prevent you from getting sick. To optimally obtain the nutrients contained in this vegetable, it is advisable to only cook it as little as possible — or preferably, not at all. Nutritionists thus advise that eating broccoli regularly will help to support immune system health.

4.  Garlic

Garlic is a very popular ingredient in cooking that is found in almost every cuisine in the world. It adds nice flavour to food, while providing remarkable health benefits as well. It has always been known to be effective in fighting infections and is used widely for this purpose. Garlic has also been marked as one of the foods with immune-boosting properties because it contains a high concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

5.  Spinach

In addition to being rich in vitamin C, this vegetable is also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may both increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Just like the broccoli, the vegetable is best eaten by cooking it as little as possible— to retain its nutrients. However, when cooked lightly, it is easier to absorb the vitamin A and it also allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.

6.  Turmeric

Turmeric goes beyond being a spice used for cooking— the bright yellow spice has always been widely used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Tumeric is rich in curcumin (the ingredient that gives turmeric its distinctive color) which is a powerful immune booster and helps to fight against viral replication.

7.  Almonds

Almonds are a very rich source of healthy fats and vitamin E— which is a very powerful antioxidant that helps to build a healthy immune system. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados, sunflower seeds and dark leafy greens. Vitamin E is also a fat-soluble vitamin— which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. In addition to their healthy fats and vitamin E content, almonds also contain manganese, magnesium, and fiber, which also have remarkable health benefits. Adults only need about 15 mg of vitamin E each day. A half-cup serving of almonds, (which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds) provides about 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.

8.  Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are very rich in nutrients such as phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E. As earlier discussed, Vitamin E helps in regulating and maintaining the immune system— by fighting off free radicals, which can damage cells. Sunflower seeds are also very high in selenium, which is also a powerful antioxidant that can boost the immune system. An ounce of sunflower seeds contains almost half of the daily selenium requirement for an average adult.

9.  Poultry

Chicken soup from poultry is not only delicious, it also has great health benefits that help in boosting your health. The soup may help lower inflammation, which could improve symptoms of a cold. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains nearly one-third of your daily recommended amount of B-6. Vitamin B-6 plays many key roles in the body functioning and is also vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. The stock made by boiling chicken bones also contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful that are very effective in boosting immunity.

10.  Shellfish

Unknown to some, zinc is a very important mineral that helps in proper immune function. Most shellfish are marked as important foods for boosting the immune system because of their rich zinc content. Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include— oysters, crab, lobster and mussels. Oysters are particularly high in zinc and are one of the highest recommended kinds of seafood to eat for incorporating zinc into the diet. The daily recommended amount of zinc in your diet should be 11 mg for adult men and 8 mg for most adult women. However, you should note that over consumption of zinc is not healthy.



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