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Stay Healthy: Eat Right to Improve Immune Health

Posted by John Johnson on

Stay Healthy: Eat Right to Improve Immune Health

As we are in a period of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty while fighting an enemy we can’t see, there’s not much we can do but wash our hands, stay at home, and practice social distancing. 


What people tend to forget is that we can fight viruses with having a healthy body and we can do this through a proper diet. Giving our body specific nutritious foods can help enhance our immune system. Below are some Super Immune Boosters that you can add to your meal plans:

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are a great source of Vitamin C. The body doesn’t store this vitamin because it’s water-soluble. You will never overdose on Vitamin C as any excess will be excreted in your urine. 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and it helps in enhancing the immune defense by boosting several cellular functions of the innate immune system as well as the adaptive immune system. 

Eating just one medium orange can provide the daily Vitamin C you need. Aside from oranges, other citrus fruits rich in Vitamin C are grapefruits, tangerines, lemons. Limes and clementines. 

 

Ginger

Ginger is a “superfood” that’s worthy of its name. It can improve the immune system with its powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Ginger has been used in traditional medicine for a long time. It’s been used to fight colds and flu, ease nausea, lessen muscle soreness, and aid digestion.  Nowadays, ginger is used in many ways. You can use it fresh, powdered, dried, as tea, juice, or oil.  Sprinkle it on your food, add a dash to your coffee, spread ginger jam on your bread, or add some ginger juice to your smoothie to spice it up. 

 

Shellfish

Aside from being a low-calorie food, shellfish are rich in zinc. Zinc is a mineral that plays an important part in achieving good health. It absorbs, breakdown, and processes nutrients. It helps in the development and repair of body tissues and bolsters the immune system.

The recommended daily intake of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Oysters are rich in zinc, 3 medium oysters can provide 16 mg or 145.5% of the Daily Value. Crabs are also a good source of zinc. An Alaskan crab has 7.6 mg of zinc for every 100 grams or 69% of the Daily Value. Other shellfish like mussels and shrimps contain small amounts of zinc but are still a good source. 

 

Garlic

Garlic contains a substance called Allicin. When chewed or crushed, this substance turns into Allicin with the help of an enzyme called Allisinase. This compound has been found to enhance the disease-fighting reaction of some kinds of white blood cells when they are confronted by viruses that cause flu or the common cold. 

You can take garlic by eating it raw or cooking it. Garlic is included in numerous recipes around the world so you will never run out of ideas on how to add it to your meal. However, Alliinase can be deactivated by heat. If this happens then Allicin won’t be produced. To prevent this from happening, crush the garlic and let it stand for 10 minutes before cooking. 

 

Papaya

Papaya contains an enzyme called Papain. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and is often used to relieve muscle pain and sore throat. It is also used to aid in the treatment of indigestion, diarrhea, some allergies, and psoriasis. Papaya is also used to treat skin lesions and intestinal worms. 

This fruit is overflowing with Vitamin C and you know very well what this vitamin can do. A single medium papaya has approximately 224% of the daily amount of vitamin c recommended. 

 

 

 

Sunflower Seeds 

Sunflower seeds contain Selenium. This nutrient is a strong antioxidant, that helps in lowering the oxidative stress level in the body which in turn reduces the effect and boosts the immune system. It may also help you keep your heart in good health and reduce symptoms of asthma. 

Sunflower seeds are also a good source of Vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in regulating and maintaining functions of the immune system. They also contain Magnesium, Vitamin B-6, and Phosphorus. A quarter-cup serving of sunflower seeds contains approximately 19 mcg of Selenium or around 34.5% of the DV. It also provides 82% of the DV for Vitamin E. 

 

Red Bell Peppers

Aside from making your dishes look festive and appetizing, this shiny bell-like veggie is a powerhouse of nutrients.  Red bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vit B-6, Vitamin E, Vitamin K-1, Folate, and Lycopene. 

100g of red bell peppers provide 127. 7 mg of Vitamin C or approximately 142% of the DV for Vitamin C. 

 

 

 

Yogurt

Yogurt has become popular in recent years and you will find various options in yogurt sections that usually occupy a large part of the dairy aisle in supermarkets. Unfortunately, most of these have added sugar, syrup, artificial flavor, and other additives that can be harmful to your health. 

Buy plain yogurt and make sure that it contains live active probiotics such as Lactobacillus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Bifidobacteria. Throw in some fresh fruits or healthy honey to add flavor.

Yogurt that contains probiotics may help to improve the immune system. Probiotics were found to minimize inflammation. Inflammation is a crucial part of our immune system’s reaction to injuries and infections. However, inflammation can be damaging if it becomes severe and could lead to serious health problems.

Probiotics may also help in lessening the occurrence, severity, and duration of the common cold. 

Aside from probiotics, yogurt is also rich in Magnesium, Zinc, and Selenium which are also known to enhance the immune system. 

 

Broccoli

One of the healthiest vegetables out there, broccoli is overflowing with vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of Vitamin A, C, and E. It also contains fiber and antioxidants. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables were found to contain Sulforaphane, a compound that can help improve the immune system. 

The secret in getting the most benefits out of broccoli is to eat it raw or semi-cooked. 

 

 

 

Poultry

Having chicken soup when you’re sick makes you feel good not just because it’s warm and smells good, it really does help in hastening recovery from a cold and helps to prevent sickness.  Poultry is a rich source of Vitamin B-6. This vitamin has a vital role in numerous chemical reactions that occur in the body. It’s also crucial in the development of new and robust red blood cells. 

3 ounces or 85 grams of chicken or turkey meat contains approximately 40-50% of the Daily Value for Vitamin B-6. 

 

 

Onion

Onions are rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains high amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium. 

Vitamin C helps in maintaining a healthy immune system, tissue repair, absorption of iron, and production of collagen. 

B vitamins also help to maintain good health. These vitamins can directly impact the functions of the brain, cell metabolism, and levels of energy. 

Potassium is a mineral that helps in regulating fluids in the body, nerve signals, and muscle contractions. 

 

Mushrooms

Edible mushrooms are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Although different types of mushrooms have varying degrees of health benefits, overall, they are overflowing with antioxidants, potassium, copper, and beta-glucans. 

You can sauté them, grill, roast, add to soups, salads, dishes or sandwiches. Always buy your mushrooms from a reputable source.

 

 

 

Eating just one or two of these superfoods is not enough to protect you from the common cold, flu, and other illnesses. You need to have a well-rounded healthy diet that includes all the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals needed to support the immune system. Consuming different kinds of healthy foods and having vegetables and fruits from every color of the rainbow not just help make the meal look more appetizing, it also ensures that you’re getting as many immune-boosting nutrients as possible. 

Are there other healthy foods you know that are not on our list? Let us know in the comments below!


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