If you’re looking for ways to prevent colds, the flu, and other infections, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. Plan your meals to include these 15 powerful immune system boosters.
1. Citrus fruits
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. Popular citrus fruits include grapefruit, oranges, clementines, tangerines, lemons and limes.
2. Red bell peppers
Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain almost 3 times as much vitamin C (127 mgTrusted Source) as a Florida orange (45 mgTrusted Source). They’re also a rich source of beta carotene.
Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible
Garlic is a must-have for your health. Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. Garlic may also slow down hardening of the arteries, and there is some evidence that it might help lower blood pressure. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
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. Ginger may also decrease chronic pain.
Spinach is packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may both increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients.
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. Eat plain yogurt rather than flavoured ones which are loaded with sugar.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system and almonds are full of it. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats.
9. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E. Sunflower seeds are also high in selenium.
This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin has promise as an immune booster (based on findings from animal studies) and an antiviral.
11. Green tea
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. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting.
Papaya is another fruit loaded with vitamin C. The daily recommended amount of vitamin C is in a single medium fruit. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects. Papayas have decent amounts of potassium, magnesium, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health.
Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains nearly one-third of your daily recommended amount of B-6. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.
Some types of shellfish are packed with zinc and our bodies need it so that our immune cells can function as intended. Oysters, crab, lobster and mussels are high in zinc.