Using Super Foods to Boost Your Immune System

No one ever plans to become sick, but even the environment in which we live can take a heavy toll on our health. A sedentary lifestyle, junk food, stress, and an ever-increasing amount of pollution can all lead to sickness.
While the immune system is designed to protect our bodies from attack, it’s important to make sure we give our bodies the fuel necessary to prevent immune deficiency. Below, we take a look at some of the top superfoods that can help you to boost and maintain your immune system.

Tea

A cuppa tea is actually very good for your overall health by increasing polyphenol levels, which boost anti-bacterial activity. Although most people prefer to have tea with milk, to attain the most health benefits, it’s important to avoid sugar and milk.

Remember to allow your tea to brew for a minimum of 10 minutes before consuming. Apart from black tea, green tea also has excellent anti-bacterial properties and can increase your metabolism as well as fight off cancers.

Garlic

Garlic has been recognized for its medicinal properties for centuries. In addition to being an anti-inflammatory agent, garlic is also an anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial. To achieve maximum benefits from garlic, include two raw cloves in your cooking several times per week.

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Honey

Long before sugar began to be used widely as a sugar in the 16th century, honey was used as a natural sweetener. Until the 20th century, honey was relied upon as a traditional infection therapy before the advent of penicillin. Today, honey is once again being used to fight a variety of skin infections.

Well known for its anti-bacterial properties, honey is also rich in anti-oxidants. As an immune system builder, honey is good for treating sore throats as well as aiding indigestion.

Spinach

Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, are excellent sources of all types of nutrients. This superfood contains a number of important nutrients, including folate, which is vital for helping your body to produce new cells as well as repair DNA. Spinach and other leafy green vegetables also contain antioxidants, including vitamin C and fiber. To obtain the most benefits, eat these foods raw or lightly cooked, as cooking can destroy nutrients.

Tomatoes

Chock full of antioxidants, tomatoes can be easily included in your daily diet. Add them to salads, salsas, sauces, and curries to make the most of this super-rich food.

Almonds

Almonds have a high vitamin E content, which is good for preventing upper-respiratory infections as well as boosting overall energy levels. Eat them raw or toss them in the blender to include them in a smoothie.

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Yogurt

Rich in protein, yogurt can work wonders for protecting your body from all kinds of health problems.

Fish

Fish contains excellent amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and selenium, both of which are important for preventing cancer.

Sweet Potatoes

While the skin is not typically associated with the body’s immune system, our skin is actually a vital organ, covering 16 square feet of the body. In fact, the skin serves as the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. To stay healthy and strong, the skin requires adequate amounts of Vitamin A, which is important for the production of connective tissue.

The body can actually convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, so make sure you include plenty of foods like sweet potatoes in your diet. The ideal dose is a half-cup serving, which is low in calories, but high in beta-carotene. Other foods rich in beta-carotene include canned pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe, and squash.

Mushrooms

For centuries, mushrooms have been recognized around the world for their immune system benefits. Studies have shown that mushrooms are responsible for increasing both the production as well as the activity of white blood cells. If you have an infection, this can be incredibly beneficial.

The best mushrooms for optimal immune system health include maitake, reishi, and shiitake. Try to include up to one ounce of these mushrooms in your diet a few times per week. Mushrooms can be easily added to pizza, eggs, or pasta sauce.

Watermelon

In addition to being refreshing on a hot summer day, watermelon also contains high amounts of an antioxidant known as glutathione, which is important for strengthening the immune system and fighting infection.

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For the most benefits from watermelon, make sure to eat it when it’s fully ripe, especially the red pulpy part near the end of the rind.

Broccoli

Packed with nutrients, broccoli is important for protecting your body from all kinds of damage. Along with containing vitamins A and C, broccoli is also rich in the antioxidant glutathione. Add broccoli to your diet by eating it raw, including it with other dishes, or topping it with cheese.

Oysters

Oysters are incredibly rich in zinc, which is known for its ability to activate white blood cells and fight off viruses. This delicious seafood is also good for helping the immune system with other tasks, including healing wounds.

Blueberries

Rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, blueberries also contain large amounts of vitamin C and potassium, which make them an excellent choice for lowering your risk for cancer and heart disease. These superfoods are also anti-inflammatory in nature, which is important as inflammation is believed to be a key cause of many chronic diseases.

Keep in mind that the darker a blueberry, the more antioxidants it contains. Even if you cannot get fresh blueberries in season, frozen berries still have plenty of health benefits.

Acai Berries

Antioxidants are vital for providing protection against a number of diseases, which also make acai berries a good choice to boost your immune system. It’s also incredibly easy to include acai in your diet. Along with strengthening your immune system, acai berries can also prevent cellular damage.

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Black Elderberry

Traditionally, black elderberry was used for treating the flu and cold once an individual was already sick. Today, black elderberry is recognized as being an effective immune booster during times when you may have an increased risk for catching the flu or cold.

To make the most of the immune-boosting benefits of these superfoods, try to purchase locally and eat organic foods whenever possible.

Purchasing vegetables grown locally reduces both travel and storage time, thus optimizing nutritional content. Remember as well that including a variety of fresh vegetables in your diet is an excellent way to ensure you receive a healthy dose of vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and minerals.