Staying Healthy: Top 9 Foods For The Ultimate Immune System Boost

In this day and age when pollutants, allergens, and most especially disease-causing agents wreak havoc on just about anyone stepping out into the outside world—or even lurk indoors to cause disease in you and your unsuspecting family—you can never be too health-conscious. Up your immunity level several notches and shield yourself from potential disease by imbuing your diet with immune system boosters. Here are the top 9 foods proven to improve your defenses against contracting a variety of diseases:

1. Yogurt

Studies have revealed that a daily cup of low-fat yogurt can decrease your likelihood of getting colds by 25%. For this, you can thank probiotics, live cultures of healthy bacteria found in yogurt that are proven to keep your intestinal tract free of pathogens or disease-causing microorganisms. A specific strain of probiotics, Lactobacillus reuteri, has been found inhibit the multiplication of viruses that invade the body and are responsible for causing disease. Check the labels to ensure you’re getting yogurt that contains this specific strain. A daily dose of two 6-oz. servings ought to do the trick.

2. Tea

A Harvard study has found that those who drank 5 cups of black tea every day for 2 weeks had 10 times more interferon in their bloodstream than those who consumed placebo hot drinks. Interferon is a virus-fighting component essential to immune system disease-fighting functions, and the boost in interferon levels is said to be produced by the amino acid L-theanine abundant in green tea and black tea. Both green tea and black tea also contain flavanoids, powerful antioxidants that work to protect against free-radical damage.

3. Garlic

Boost the healthful properties of that good old chicken soup by adding lots of garlic to it. Garlic contains allicin, the active ingredient known to combat bacteria and infection. Garlic also has antiviral and antioxidant properties, not to mention it’s known to stimulate the growth of white blood cells, blood components responsible for fighting infection. Make sure to include at least two cloves of garlic in your dishes every day, and add crushed garlic to any of your meals several times every week.

4. Oats and barley

It’s time to include oats and barley in at least one of your three whole grain servings in a day. These grains have been found to contain the type of fiber known as beta-glucan, a compound which when eaten by animals causes them to be less susceptible to herpes, influenza and even anthrax. In humans, beta-glucan has been shown to improve wound healing, potentiate antibiotic effects, and boost overall immunity.

5. Sweet potatoes

One of your first lines of defenses against disease is healthy skin. To improve or maintain the good condition of this protective organ, you’ll need lots of vitamin A, a key vitamin that plays a crucial role in the synthesis of connective tissue. Sweet potatoes, being rich in beta-carotene which is synthesized by the body into usable vitamin A, are thus great for maintaining a strong and healthy skin that serves as a dependable fortress against disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogenic microorganisms.

6. Berries

Any immune system boosting plan would not be complete without Vitamin C. And among the best sources of this famous immune-boosting vitamin are berries. In addition, dark berries such as blueberries and also raspberries also contain large doses of antioxidants in the form of bioflavonoids, which work to protect you against free radicals. [] Being low in sugar yet high in potent phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, wild blueberries are your best bets against disease-causing pathogens attempting to invade your body.

7. Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been proven by research to increase the production and improve the activity of disease-fighting white blood cells, so consuming them both to prevent and treat infection would indeed be a viable, effective plan. Add a handful of maitake, shiitake, or reishi mushrooms to your pasta sauces or other dishes to get the recommended intake of at least ¼ to 1 oz of mushrooms several times a day for a maximum immune boost.

8. Brightly colored vegetables

It’s a widely known fact that regular servings of fresh vegetables would definitely do your health good, but make sure you select the right kinds for best results. Bright yellow, orange, and green vegetables contain the highest levels of carotenoids, antioxidants which work to enhance immune system functioning best. So load up on the carrots and squash, and stick to fresh choices over canned ones— the canned variety contains significantly less nutrient value than the fresh ones. Organic and preferably raw vegetables have more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help boost your immune system.

9. Fish

Omega-3-rich fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna are known to protect the lungs from colds and other respiratory infections, as well as help reduce inflammation. These fatty fish are also rich in zinc, an essential mineral which aids in body processes such as cell building and immune system function. Make sure you get two good servings a week for optimum immune system maintenance.

So there you have it—the top 9 foods proven to work wonders in boosting your immune system. Incorporate each of these food selections to your diet, and you’ll be giving yourself the best gift of health and protection from pathogens and potential disease. How do you plan to include them in your daily menu? Are there some awesome recipes you can share that mix up several of these immune boosters to one potent immune-boosting meal?

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