The immune system, perhaps the most complex and mysterious system in the human body, is a crucial part of our overall health and wellness. Without the ability to fight different diseases, our bodies wouldn’t function properly, and we wouldn’t be able to enjoy everyday lives. Although we all have the immune system that protects us from various illnesses, certain lifestyle habits affect how it functions, and poor choices can leave us more prone to frequent infections. You probably have already heard the proverb ‘you are what you eat,’ and if you are a bag of chips, you’re not boosting your immune system for the upcoming flu season, not to mention the outbreak of the deadly virus across the globe. A healthy immune system doesn’t guarantee you won’t get infected with different viruses, but it helps fight bacteria and recover from illnesses. A healthy diet is crucial for keeping your body and mind in shape. Your digestive system can significantly affect how your body functions and fights illnesses, so it’s essential to know which foods can boost your immune system.
The worst nightmare for many kids, broccoli is your dear friend when it comes to a healthy immune system. The vast array of vitamins in broccoli, as well as fiber, protein, and other bioactive compounds, help you keep your body healthy. Most importantly, broccoli is an excellent source of Vitamin C needed to grow, develop, and repair tissues in our bodies. The fiber in broccoli helps maintain regular bowel movement and supports good bacteria in your gut. Proteins are crucial for building and repairing tissues. Broccoli provides you with more protein than most of the vegetables.
Broccoli contains numerous minerals and vitamins, including:
- Vitamin C – ½ cup of broccoli provides almost 70% of DV
- Vitamin K1 – Essential for blood clotting and bone health
- Folate (Vitamin B9) –Crucial for red blood formation and healthy cell growth. This nutrient is vital at the stage of early pregnancy to decrease the risk of congenital disabilities.
- Potassium – helps regulate fluid balance in body and muscle contractions and regulate blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
- Manganese – While the human body cannot produce manganese, it’s crucial to get it from the diet; manganese helps reduce inflammation, plays a role in bone formation, and may help lower blood sugar levels.
- Iron – Is crucial for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
2. Dark Chocolate
The great news for chocolate lovers is that dark chocolate loaded with nutrients, will provide you with antioxidants that may boost your immune system. It may also lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate is a good source of:
- Fiber – helps maintain regular bowel movement and support good bacteria in your gut.
- Iron – Is crucial for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
- Magnesium – Essential for regulating muscle and nerve function
- Copper – plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells.
- Manganese – helps reduce inflammation, plays a role in bone formation, and may help lower blood sugar levels.
The study showed that eating high-flavanol (flavonoids in cocoa and chocolate) cocoa for five days can improve blood flow to the brain, which will enhance the function of your brain. Flavonoids – a class of antioxidants, can also protect our cells from damage and reduce inflammation. Theobromine – an antioxidant in dark chocolate, may strengthen your immunity by fighting free radicals in your body. Although dark chocolate is a delicious way of boosting your immune system, it also contains a high amount of calories and sugar, and you should take it in moderation.
Garlic, a popular ingredient for flavoring numerous dishes, has been a famous home remedy for fighting cold and illnesses for many centuries. The study showed that garlic supplements might help prevent the common cold. Besides, garlic contains a compound called alliin, which after chewing or crushing, turns into allicin – a strong antibiotic. Allicin may help destroy viruses and other microorganisms.
One clove of garlic contains:
- Fiber: 0.06 grams 2,4% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Manganese: 2% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 1% of the DV
- Selenium: 1% of the DV
- Decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B1
Most people chew or swallow raw garlic for improving the immune system. For those whose stomach can’t tolerate raw garlic, or are on the way to important meetings, odorless garlic supplements may come handy.
Those who have watched the cartoon from 60’s Popeye, the Sailor might remember the quote from its theme song “I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me spinach. I’m Popeye, the sailor man!” While Popeye, the cartoon’s fictional character, associated his strength to eating spinach, many people associate spinach with a robust immune system. The combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E in spinach can help fight off infections. Vitamin K in spinach can support bone health.
100 grams of spinach contains:
- Protein – 2,35 grams 4,7% of the DV
- Fiber – 2,4 grams 9,6% of the DV
- Calcium – 99 mg – 7.6% of the DV
- Iron – 2,35 mg – 13% of the DV
- Potassium – 559 mg 11,9% of the DV
- Vitamin C – 28,9 mg 26% of the DV
One of the easiest ways to add spinach to your diet is by making delicious smoothies from raw spinach or cooking it as a side dish for your meals.
5. Bell Peppers
When you think of winter and cold weather, you probably think about vitamin C, and the first thing that comes to mind is citrus. However, a single red pepper can provide you with more vitamin C than any citrus fruit can. Additionally, one bell pepper offers 20% of your daily recommended dose of beta carotene, essential in the diet as a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A itself is crucial for promoting growth and development, maintaining vision, and enhancing the body’s immune function.
100 grams of bell peppers contain:
- Protein – 1 gram 2% of the DV
- Vitamin A – 62% of the DV
- Vitamin C – 212% of the DV
- Vitamin B-6 – 15% of the DV
- Magnesium 3% of the DV
6. Citrus Fruits
As winter is just around the corner, it’s time to brew lemon tea. Not only lemon gives your drink an appealing color and smell, but it provides you with vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system. One hundred grams of lemon provides 58% of the daily value of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps produce white blood cells that help fight infections. Oranges, grapefruits, pomelos, limes, and lemons all can help you stay healthy during the cold weather and may help fight viruses. You can add a squeeze of citrus fruits to any meal or drink. In particular, citrus can serve as a great dressing to your salad. Freshly squeezed citrus juices are also an excellent way of boosting up your immune system, or, if you enjoy eating citrus fruits, you can slice and eat them raw.
There is no doubt that a healthy diet can boost your immune system and help you stay healthy regardless of weather conditions. We hope by adding the foods mentioned above to your diet can help you strengthen your body’s immune responses to different viruses. Some other strategies to improve your immune system include exercising regularly, getting a good night’s sleep, and minimizing stress.
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