As we age, our immune system weakens, making us more susceptible to seasonal illness and other diseases. The causes of our weakening immune system are varied from genetics to simply how our cells have evolved over millions of years. Fortunately, we have some simple lifestyle adjustments we can make to help boost our immune system – physical activity, rest, and diet are three. Of these, our diet is the most important lifestyle adjustment we can make. Here are 10 foods to boost the immune system that you can add or increase in your diet easily.
Protein helps your body function, from your muscles to, yes, your immune system. A variety of lean proteins can help to boost your immune system and your overall health. The challenge in protein is that it is mostly meat – which is why the “lean” part is key. Your best choices are skinless chicken, turkey, lean beef, and fish. Fish is a bonus food since fatty fish like salmon have omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain function and cardiovascular health.
Whole grains are all-around a healthy choice, but for your immune system, they are a secret treasure trove for B and E vitamins that you typically don’t find in fruits and vegetables.
Leafy vegetables offer several health benefits that make them perfect for your diet. Spinach and kale contain vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which help boost and support a healthy immune system. Red and green leaf lettuces provide vitamin A, which also helps boost your immunity to illnesses.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and tangerines all contain vitamin C. This vitamin is key in the production of white blood cells, one of the most important parts of your immune system. While bottled juices provide vitamin C, you gain other benefits from eating fresh fruit and you avoid the added sugar that comes with juices.
Watermelons are delicious and a source of several amino acids that promote immune health. Glutathione, one of the primary peptides containing amino acids, is also an antioxidant, making watermelon healthy for all-around health.
Sometimes something sweet can be good for you. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which is another antioxidant. Since dark chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat, you should eat it in moderation. However, a couple of pieces of 70% or darker chocolate after dinner makes for a tasty dessert that helps keep your immune system strong.
Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants and beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. That makes them a good boost for your immune system and health. Sweet potatoes are also versatile, so you can cook them with savory meals or make delicious desserts that are still healthy for you – just keep an eye on how much sugar you add and mind the dessert portions.
Herbs & Spices
Herbs and spices are for more than just flavoring. Several of them have health benefits as well. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Garlic has been used since ancient times to treat respiratory illnesses and has numerous benefits to help promote respiratory and cardiovascular health. Turmeric is another spice that has been used in alternative medicines. Including it in your spice cabinet can also have a little boost to your immune system.
Seeds and Nuts
Almonds are an excellent source of numerous vitamins and minerals. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Sunflower seeds are antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamin E. Most tree nuts are high in heart-healthy fats but low in calories. Since fats are important to a healthy diet, nuts make for good snacks, especially when you remove meat fats from your diet by using lean proteins.
Greek yogurt contains probiotics, the healthy bacteria that help support good digestive health. Good digestive health leads to better immune health, as an unbalanced digestive system will weaken your immune system over time. So, add some yogurt to your breakfast or have it for a midday snack.
This article is meant for educational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of medical advice from licensed medical professionals. Contact VMT for More Information!