Foods and Tips to Boost Immune System

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Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. Here are 5 foods you may consider adding to your diet.

 

1. Citrus Fruits

wedges of grapefruit, lime, orange, and lemon on top of a turquoise table

 

Most people turn straight to Vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. That’s because it helps build up your immune system. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Almost all citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.

Popular citrus fruits include:

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Clementines
  • Tangerines
  • Lemons
  • Limes

Also keep in mind that while Vitamin C might help you recover from a cold quicker, there’s no evidence that it’s effective against COVID-19.

 

2. Ginger

slices of ginger on a dark wood table table

 

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may help with nausea as well. While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Ginger may also decrease chronic pain and might even possess cholesterol-lowering properties.

 

3. Yogurt

yogurt topped with seeds and granola and placed in a small white and blue floral bowl

 

Look for yogurts that have the phrase “live and active cultures” printed on the label, like Greek yogurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kind that are flavored and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey instead.

 

Yogurt can also be a great source of Vitamin D, try to select brands fortified with this vitamin. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.

 

4. Almonds

unroasted almonds in a dark-colored bowl on top of beige fabric

 

When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, Vitamin E tends to take a backseat to Vitamin C. However, this powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats.

 

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 around 100 per cent of the recommended daily amount.

 

5. Green Tea

loose leaf green tea in a white mug on a wrought iron table

 

Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.

 

Aside from diet, several lifestyle changes may also strengthen your body’s natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens, or disease-causing organisms. Here are 3 tips to strengthen your immunity naturally.

 

1. Get enough sleep

 

Sleep and immunity are closely tied. Inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night.

 

Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness. Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours.

 

2. Engage in moderate exercise

 

Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems. What’s more, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly.

 

Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, steady bicycling and jogging. Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

 

3. Stay hydrated

 

Hydration doesn’t necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health. Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness.

 

To prevent dehydration, you should drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. Water is recommended because it’s free of calories, additives, and sugar. While tea and juice are also hydrating, it’s best to limit your intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea because of their high sugar contents.

 

Articles adapted from Healthline Food, Healthline Tips.