8 top immune boosting foods and vitamins that may protect against infections

With the recent COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak, maintaining a healthy immune system has become vital. Doing so can boost your body’s defenses against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.

Citrus fruit and vitamin C

Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli.

Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells which are crucial in the fight against infections. Vitamin C needs to be taken daily as it is essential for good health and because the body does not produce or store it.

Garlic

Garlic is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese. It also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. Studies have found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) can reduce the occurrence of colds or flu by 60 percent.

Garlic’s immune-boosting properties are thought to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Allicin is produced by chopping or crushing garlic which stimulates the enzymatic process that converts the phytonutrient alliin into allicin, a compound to which many of garlic’s health benefits are attributed.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and key to a healthy immune system. As a fat-soluble vitamin it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed. Nuts are packed with vitamin E and also contain healthy fats. A half-cup serving of almonds provides almost 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. Other foods rich in vitamin E include seeds and spinach.

Vitamin B6 and chicken soup

Homemade chicken soup with carrots, celery and other vegetables is more than just a comfort food with a placebo effect. It helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place.

Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the body and the immune system. Foods rich in Vitamin B6 include chicken and cold water fish such as salmon and tuna. It is also found in green vegetables and chickpeas, so chuck some chickpeas into your chicken soup.

Vitamin B6 is also crucial to the formation of healthy red blood cells. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken with the bones in, contains gelatin, chondroitin and other nutrients beneficial to a healthy gut and immune system.

Green tea

Green tea is packed with flavonoids which are a type of antioxidant and has high levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is another powerful antioxidant which has been shown to enhance immune function. It is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine which may aid in the production of T-cells.

Yoghurt and vitamin D

Buy yogurts that have live and active cultures, like Greek yogurt. These live cultures may stimulate your immune system. Choose plain yogurts rather than sweetened and flavoured ones. Sweeten plain yogurt with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey.

Yogurt can also be a good source of vitamin D, so try to select brands that contain vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate and boost the immune system.

Wheat germ

Wheat germ is the innermost part of the wheat kernel. It is the most nutrient rich part of the grain. The germ is rich in B vitamins, zinc and vitamin E. Sprinkle wheat germ on top of yogurt or add it to a shake.

Acai berry

Acai berry is such a potent antioxidant and stimulator of the immune system, researchers are studying it as a potential treatment for all kinds of conditions.

It is a black-purple fruit that is derived from the acai palm tree in Brazil, Trinidad and certain parts of South America. The fruit is high in anthocyanins. These flavonoid molecules are very potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are credited with boosting immunity and lowering inflammation in the body.