Now more than ever, it is so important to be conscious of our immune system and how well it functions. Not only is it flu season, but COVID-19 is very much still among us. So, what can you do to boost your immune system? It’s important to exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, and minimize stress, but you should also be sure you are eating a diet high in immune-boosting nutrients that can be found in several fruits and vegetables. Don’t know where to start? Try including these powerful immune system boosters into your everyday diet to reap the benefits.
Vitamin C, which is high in almost all citrus fruits, is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key cells in the body that work to fight off infection. Popular citrus fruits include grapefruit, organes, clementines, lemons, and tangerines.
Broccoli is a vitamin and mineral powerhouse. It is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants that will most certainly contribute to a stronger immune system. Research has shown that the key to keeping broccoli’s power intact is to cook it as little as possible– steaming is the best way to maintain the nutrients in broccoli.
Garlic is a common ingredient in almost every cuisine because of its taste, but did you know that garlic is also a must-have for your health? Garlic is recognized for its value in fighting infections. It also slows down the hardening of the arteries and can help lower blood pressure. The heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, contribute to garlic’s immune-boosting properties. Chop it up and add it to a stir fry, roast it with chicken or fish, or even make a paste out of it and make some mashed potatoes — garlic has many uses!
While shellfish might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering immune-boosting foods, a lot of types of shellfish are packed with zinc, which our bodies need in order for our immune cells to function properly. Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include oysters, crab, lobster, and mussels. Zinc is also high in fortified cereals and some breads, but the best absorption of the mineral comes from animal-based foods.
Hydration and immunity go hand in hand. Water helps produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune cells through the body. If you have a hard time drinking water throughout the day, make a conscious effort to incorporate foods that have a high water content, such as celery, cucumbers, and apples. Flavored water is also another great way to stay hydrated throughout the day. Proper hydration will make it easier for immune-boosting nutrients to get to where they need to go in your body.
At the end of the day, the key to establishing a diet that will support your immune system is variety. Eating just one of these foods will not be enough to fight off the flu or other infections, no matter how often you eat them. So try new things, switch up the foods you’re eating, and don’t be afraid to get creative. Keep in mind that no supplement or food will cure or prevent disease alone, so diversifying your diet, along with other health and wellness practices, will be essential to properly boosting your immune system. It is important to note that in terms of COVID-19, physical distancing and proper hygiene practices will protect you best.