immune boosting foods
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Immune Boosting Foods: 9 Vital Foods for Immunity

If you hate eating healthy, it is easier to just keep it simple. Here are nine essential immune-boosting foods that everyone needs for good health, and a few other tips for healthy immune function.

immune boosting foods

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Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals are always vital in any diet, but if you’re fighting off an illness they can be especially important. The following nine foods are particularly great sources of vitamins and minerals that are known to help boost your immune system and fight off illnesses more quickly and efficiently.

This post is about nine types of immune boosting food vital for a healthy immune system.

immune boosting food

If you’re fighting off an illness, your doctor might have prescribed you some medicine to take care of the symptoms. But there are certain foods that can boost your immune system’s ability to fight the illness on its own, so you won’t need to rely as much on those medications.

9 Foods to Boost the Immune System

Nutrients in foods work together with your body to boost immune health and ward off infections. Healthy eating by choosing these nutrient dense foods can give your body what it needs to heal quickly or resist infections altogether.

Foods for immunity including fruits, vegetables, and other foods are rich in nutrients essential to immune health. Get more immune-boosting vitamins by eating fresh vegetables and fruits daily. Your body’s biggest asset is its ability to heal itself; feed it well so it can do just that.

Did you know that you can reduce food waste simply by eating more whole fruits and vegetables?

immune boosting foods brassicas

How can I boost my immune system quickly?

The immune system is like a complex network of defense mechanisms that are hard at work, day and night, trying to keep our bodies healthy. The best way to avoid sickness and disease? Eat well.

A balanced diet packed with immune-boosting nutrients can help us ward off colds, cases of flu, allergies, and other undesirable bugs that are all too ready to wreak havoc on our systems. See how these nine foods do their part in keeping your body healthy and happy—and free from illness!

Cruciferous Vegetables

Did you know that your body’s immune response is in part controlled by which type of bacteria is most prevalent in your gut?

Healthy bacteria, like those found in cruciferous vegetables and other essential nutrients, can help increase your body’s immune response to fight off viral and bacterial infections.

Some examples of cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Include these in your meals each day. Try slaw, roasted broccoli, riced cauliflower, and sauerkraut this week!

Cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens, and cabbage are high in isothiocyanates (ITCs), which boost immune system function. Studies show that ITCs activates an enzyme in your liver called glutathione S-transferase (4).

Simply put , glutathione also helps detoxify carcinogens from your body, which can prevent certain cancers from forming. Other veggies high in ITCs include broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Garlic and Onions

Not only do they smell amazing when cooked, garlic and onions both contain sulfur, which your body needs to maintain a healthy immune system. Garlic is also known as an antifungal agent and is used in Chinese medicine to treat infections of all kinds.

It helps balance out your body’s pH levels and increases good gut bacteria (like acidophilus). Onions are another potent anti-fungal, anti-bacterial food.

Staples like garlic, onions, shallots, herbs, and greens are easy to grow essential foods. Having access to fresh foods that you grow ensures you get the most nutrition possible!

Mushrooms

Mushrooms, especially maitake and shiitake, have been used medicinally in Asia for centuries. They contain polysaccharides (long chains of sugars), which stimulate the production of immunity-related antibodies and cytokines.

These compounds are also active against viruses, tumor cells, bacteria, and even fungi. Researchers recently discovered that black maitake mushroom contains lentinan—the same immune-boosting polysaccharide found in shiitake mushrooms.

It has emerged that the mushroom has immune strength. These foods provide many minerals, including selenium and B vitamins that are important to our immunity health.

Moreover, mushrooms are containing a wide range of highly specific immune-modulatory and antioxidant proteins, as outlined by the Journal of Autoimmunity (1).

Many types of mushrooms benefit our health, and recent attention is focused especially on shiitake mushrooms. For those with cardiovascular issues, mushrooms can significantly improve health. Research shows regular intake of shiitake can increase blood coagulation and antimicrobial activity (2).

While fresh is best, supplements can be a great way to get more of the important compounds into your body. I love this amazing mushroom power.

Which fruits are good for immunity?

Fruits

Fruit is a nutrient-dense food group. They are rich in nutrients and many bioactive components and provide excellent support in maintaining immune function. Fruits have many health benefits.

You need a wide array of health and nutrition. Nevertheless, some vegetables may have more immune supporting abilities and may even be healthier.

immune boosting foods citrus

Citrus Fruits

Studies have found that people who eat citrus fruit have increased counts of white blood cells, which help your body’s immune response (3). It’s also been shown to enhance natural killer cell activity in animals. Natural killer cells are a type of white blood cell that seek out and destroy infected or cancerous cells before they become problematic. This helps reduce chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Most studies show that orange is best—whether fresh-squeezed or in supplement form!

Citrus fruits, such as orange, lemon, and lime, provide excellent food for strengthening the immune system. It is widely accepted that they are an excellent source of vitamin C. This nutrient can often help cure a viral infection.

Berries

Berries are packed with phytonutrients, which make them a powerful addition to any immune-boosting meal.

Raspberries contain ellagic acid—which has been linked to reducing inflammation and cancer risk—and anthocyanins, which give berries their red color and are also thought to improve vision.

Blackberries also contain anthocyanins as well as ellagic acid, while blueberries have kaempferol, quercetin and catechins—all thought to boost health and prevent disease.

Make berries a priority on your weekly shopping list! They are low in sugar and easy to enjoy.

immune boosting foods
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Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are nutrient dense foods that support immune system function by providing a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Kale, chard, and spinach are all excellent choices here.

Inflammation is what all diseases and infections have in common. You can fight inflammation with the addition of leafy greens to your diet. Research shows how a simple adjustment to your diet can prevent cardiovascular disease (5).


immune boosting foods

Seafood

If you’re thinking about food that improves our immune systems, seafood may not always come to mind. However, seafood is full of great things.

Oily fish are among the best sources if they contain Omega-3s, melatonin, tryptophan, and polyamines. A recent report published in Frontiers in Nutrition shows that eating fish regularly improves digestion and reduces the risk of developing inflammation (6).

In addition, shellfish containing shrimp, oyster, krill, and shells have a large amount and a variety of antimicrobial bioactive peptides, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Oily Fish

Fish oil helps kick-start your body’s immune response because it contains high omega-3 fatty acids.

The body needs omega-3s to produce a class of compounds called leukotrienes, which activate your macrophages and other cells that kill pathogens.

These compounds also help your T cells, another type of cell that attacks germs, travel around faster.

When sustainably-sourced, fresh fish is not available, a high-quality fish oil supplement can help keep you healthy for the long-term.

Fermented Foods

Fermented drinks have a long history. They were among the first foods made by humans, and for a good reason.

Fermentations improve food safety, shelf life, and taste. In addition, the supplement increases its nutritional properties. Many fermentation foods include strains of good living bacteria, often called probiotics.

Probiotics can stimulate the immune system by promoting neurotransmitter synthesis, reducing proinflammatory cytokines, and increasing white cell numbers. In simpler terms, it helps combat inflammation!


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Herbs, Teas, and Roots

Most of our immune-boosting foods are herbs, teas, and roots. These natural ingredients have been used as remedies in traditional medicine for generations.

Although you’ll need to consult your doctor before self-treating any condition, adding these foods to your diet is a healthy way to boost your body’s ability to fight off infection.

Spice is good for flavoring foods but doesn’t enhance its valuable qualities. Garlic is an example of food boosting immunity.

The study suggests garlic stimulates the production and regulates the cellular function of white blood cells, cytokines, and immunoglobulin.

The study was published in the journal Food Science. Regular consumption helps prevent or treat asthma, stomach ulcers, and cancer. Ginger also has a similar effect.

Consider saffron supplements if you are looking for brain health and cancer support. There is a lot of research on this amazing plant. Check out this paper about how saffron affects the brain (7).

Other Ways to Support the Immune System

Increase Your Physical Activity Levels

Getting physically active is a great way to boost health and wellness. It is also great for improving immunity.

A recent study found that exercise intensity and duration are highly linked with multiple immune systems and their function.

In a study conducted by Sports Medicine, the researchers found a higher level of habitual physical activity was associated with reduced mortality by 37% and a reduced risk of contracting an infection.

immune boosting foods

This post was all about which immune boosting foods you need at the top your your grocery list!

References and Further Reading

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33276307/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950045/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8264544/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4530997/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30709032/
  6. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2020.617652/full
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7573929/#:~:text=Preclinical%20studies%20proved%20that%20saffron,both%20depression%20and%20anxiety%20patients.
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