Well guys, I think it’s safe to say we’re all willing to do just about anything to boost our immune system these days. Flu season is FINALLY winding down, but we’re still dealing with a nasty pandemic. We need to make sure our bodies are in tip top shape to fight those germs!
Of course, the best way to support your immune system is to focus on overall health. Eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep and dealing with stress are all SUPER important to avoid getting sick and to fight infection if you DO get sick.
But are there some foods that could give your immune system a little boost? Absolutely! Citrus fruits are the first thing that come to mind for me, but what about some other good ones that you might not think of?
If you’re looking to kick your immune system into high gear, these 5 foods will do the trick!
1. Red Bell Pepper
Bell peppers are full of good stuff! Like citrus, bell pepper has a ton of vitamin C. This powerful little vitamin is really important for the immune system because:
1. It’s an antioxidant that helps get rid of nasty germs when you’re already sick.
2. It helps boost white blood cells that attack and get rid of infection.
If you eat the red ones, they can give you 3 times as much vitamin C as an orange! Lately, my favorite way to eat these is to throw them in the air fryer and then top them off with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Elote seasoning! It’s sooooooo good.
I mean… Popeye loves spinach and I don’t think he ever gets sick, right?
Seriously though, spinach is amazing for the immune system! Not only is it loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A, but it also has powerful plant compounds called carotenoids. These compounds (beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin in spinach) are super important antioxidants. They protect our cells and help the immune system do its thing to fight off infection.
If you’re not a huge fan of spinach, try it sauteéd in a little garlic, stuffed in some pasta, or in lasagna. BRB, drooling.
All yogurts are NOT created equal. But if you pick the right kind you can really boost that immune system! Grab yogurt that has “live active cultures” on the label, and avoid the ones with a ton of added sugar.
“Live active cultures” = probiotics. Probiotics are just healthy bacteria that do amazing things for your gut health, and a healthy gut can really boost the immune system!
Eating yogurt is also a good way to get some extra vitamin D, which also supports the immune system! I’m thinking we can be overachievers and throw some vitamin C-rich berries in our yogurt. YUM.
If yogurt isn’t your thing, try some other fermented foods to get your probiotic boost like:
- Miso soup
I DEFINITELY don’t have a problem with eating more garlic. Yum.
Garlic has been used for a looooong time in holistic medicine, thanks to its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Garlic is good for the immune system thanks to a little thing called allicin. Some research suggests that allicin (which is released when you chew or crush garlic) can help boost the response of white blood cells when they come across viruses in the body.
Some studies even suggest that garlic supplements can help prevent the cold and flu, but more research is needed.
Almonds are filling and super healthy. They’re packed with vitamin E, which is actually just as important for the immune system as vitamin C! Vitamin E is an antioxidant that fights off free radicals. This is important because free radicals can weaken healthy cells in your body.
One difference between vitamin C and vitamin E is that vitamin E is fat soluble…which just means your body can’t absorb it without fat. Soo here’s the cool thing about almonds – not only does a 1/4 cup serving give you 50% of your vitamin E for the day, but it also gives your body the healthy fat it needs to absorb it!
Here are some other healthy foods with vitamin E:
- Sunflower seeds
While all of these foods have nutrients that your immune system loves, here’s the take home message:
Eating a bell pepper or snacking on some almonds isn’t going to boost your immune system overnight. There’s no magic food here to fight off the nasty germs going around. The most important thing is that you include these foods in your diet on a regular, long-term basis. Stocking your body with tons of healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is the best way to help your immune system stay in good shape. Oh, and remember that exercise, sleep and stress have BIG influence too!
Of course….remember to WASH THOSE HANDS!
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