Foods That May Help Support The Immune System
Your immune system is comprised of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. It helps your body to fight off illnesses and keep you healthy.
When harmful things, such as germs, enter your body from the outside, your immune system works hard to destroy them without you even realizing what is going on. It's pretty amazing when you think about it.
However, if your immune system is weak, or it stops working properly, that's when you get ill. One of the ways you can help support your immune system is to eat healthy, nutritious foods.
Immune Supporting Foods
Elderberry. Elderberries are a fruit that grow on the Sambucus tree. Although toxic in their raw state, when cooked, elderberries have been used for centuries as a supportive agent to help fight against colds and flu. Recent studies have shown that the phytochemicals in elderberry extract may help block cold and flu viruses.
Garlic. The immune-supportive properties in garlic come from a compound called allicin. Research shows that it directly stimulates the immune cells to help the body fight off viruses.
Citrus Fruits. You may have increased your Vitamin C intake when you have a cold- and for a good reason. Vitamin C, found in all citrus fruits, contributes to immune defense and is a potent antioxidant (antioxidants destroy free radicals that enter your body- which are unstable molecules that can damage your cells).
Broccoli. Broccoli is packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, and anticarcinogenic (anti-cancer) compounds. Research shows that the best way to maintain the nutritional values of broccoli at the maximum level when cooking is to steam it.
Ginger. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies show that fresh ginger is effective against fighting the human respiratory syncytial virus, which causes cold and flu type infections.
Yogurt. It's the probiotics in yogurt that might help support your immune system. Probiotics have been linked to reducing the severity and duration of colds. Yogurt also contains magnesium, selenium, and zinc, which help support the immune system.
Spinach. Packed with folate, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and E, spinach is well known for its immune-supporting properties. Scientists say that eating spinach in the form of a smoothie or juice is the best way to get the most from its nutrients.
Tea. Whether you drink black, white, green, caffeinated, or de-caffeinated tea - the polyphenols and flavonoids inside are what help support your immune system. Polyphenols are a compound naturally found in tea with antioxidant properties, and flavonoids are a type of polyphenol. They are known to enhance immune function.
Shellfish. Shellfish are packed with the mineral zinc. So although you may not immediately connect shellfish with immunity, zinc helps create and stimulate your immune system and is crucial for its development. Oysters are exceptionally high in zinc, containing more zinc per serving than any other food.
Chicken. The old remedy of chicken soup is not without substance. Chicken is rich in Vitamin B-6, which promotes immune function. If you make stock or broth from the chicken bones, it is also nutrient-rich containing essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Supporting your Immune Health
Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to help support your immune system. For example, eating nutritious foods, getting plenty of exercise, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, not smoking, and washing your hands regularly are the basic building blocks of a supportive immune system. Ensuring your diet is filled with a variety of whole foods is a positive way to help support your immune health as well.