8 Powerful Foods That Will Improve Your Immune System
Do you know what protects you from getting sick by maintaining a barrier that bars microorganisms like germs and viruses from entering your body? Your...
Do you know what protects you from getting sick by maintaining a barrier that bars microorganisms like germs and viruses from entering your body? Your immune system. Do you know what works tirelessly to identify said microorganisms and destroy them before they can reproduce in your body and get you sick? Your immune system. And when you do get sick, do you know what works even harder to eliminate and completely eradicate any viruses or bacteria that caused it? As you probably guessed, it's your immune system.
Long story short, your immune system makes up your body's natural defenses against infectious organisms that want to get you sick. Well, they may not want to get you sick, but the way life works makes it so that you get sick when they do what they're supposed to do. Anyway, that's a story for another day. For today, we're going to talk about how you can lend your immune system a helping hand and give it a much-needed boost. As to the how, keep on reading to find out!
What Are Some Unhealthy Habits I Should Kick?
First up in our discussion on how to improve your immune system is what you should not do if you want to stay healthy and keep everything working as it should. As you'll see, most of these things are common knowledge, but it'll still benefit us to cover them:
● Don't smoke: The chemicals in cigarettes damage the cells in your body, prompting your immune system to work overtime to keep it in check. As time goes by, smoking weakens your immune system and inhibits its ability to properly function.
● Drink in moderation: Alcohol suppresses your immune system, especially if you're a long-term excessive drinker. For instance, alcohol disrupts the gut barrier and allows more bacteria to pass into the blood, and impairs the function of macrophages, T and C cells, three types of cells in your body that play an important role in your body's immunity.
● Don't lose sleep: Missing out on sleep negatively affects your immune system because your body can't produce as many cytokines, which are proteins that mediate and regulate immunity and inflammation. In fact, studies have shown that people who don't sleep well or enough are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus.
● Don't skip on washing your hands: As you most likely know, washing your hands eliminates a lot of germs and bacteria that made their way there, and not doing so will not. Quite simple.
● Keep your stress levels in check: Stress impairs our ability to fight off infections in many ways, such as by causing our bodies to produce more of the stress hormone, cortisol. In small amounts, cortisol can actually boost our immunity by limiting inflammation, but too much will leave it open to it.
● Don't be so sedentary: Regular exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and protects you against many diseases. Being sedentary, on the other hand, can impair your immune system and may even lead to a premature death.
Are There Any Healthy Foods to Improve My Immune System?
Now that we know what not to do, it's time to move onto what we should do. Lucky for us, we're going to be talking about this in the context of food. That's right, you can improve your immune system with some healthy foods! So, without further ado, here are eight foods for the immune system you should include in your diet if you aren't already, and eat more of them if you are.
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that's been used for years and years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric also contains curcumin, a compound that gives it its distinctive color and just happens to be antiviral and antifungal, and is a rich source of antioxidants that help defend your cells from damage.
Consuming ginger has been known by many people as a way to fortify your body against disease. For example, it's believed to help break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs due to its warming effects. More scientifically, ginger boosts our immune system with anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, and is also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, which dispels toxins and waste from our body.
Garlic isn't only used to improve the taste of food; it's also used to improve immunity with its antiviral properties that fight infections, bacteria and viruses. As to why, it's because it contains MANY biologically useful chemicals like allicin that kill off viruses.
Broccoli is a wonderful vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C and E, a lot of fiber, many antioxidants, and sulforaphane, a chemical that activates antioxidants and enzymes in immune cells.
5. Dark, Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens like spinach are rich in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients that boost the immune system. They also have many antioxidants and beta carotene, which has been shown to improve the infection-fighting ability of our immune system.
Berries are known to provide a lot of antioxidants with immune-boosting perks. For example, blueberries have a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin that can help boost a person's immune system. A study from 2016 also found that flavonoids play an important role in keeping the respiratory tract's immune defense system in check. And then there's elderberry, which has long been used as an herbal remedy for colds, flu and sinus infections. Cold-pressed mix berry having high level of vitamin C and it's a good option to boost the immune system.
Kiwis provide us with tons and tons of essential nutrients like folate, potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C. Specific to vitamin C, which is abundant in kiwis, it is a nifty vitamin that boosts white blood cells to fight infections.
8. Green Tea
Drinking green tea has been shown to strengthen the immune system, which makes sense when you consider that it's a good source of flavonoids and the amino acid L-theanine. In case you don't know, L-theanine aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells, meaning that it's definitely something you want in your body.
No one likes getting sick. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, because our immune system is literally a system of biological structures and processes, there's no one thing you can do to give it a boost. But, like we covered today, you can work on this by cutting out certain habits and behaviors, and taking up other ones that are more positive.
For example, eating the eight healthy foods we touched on today. As an added boost, here are a couple other things you can eat to jump start your immunity:
● Citrus fruits
● Red bell peppers
● Dark chocolate
● Bone broth
● Oily fish
● Fermented foods