How Do I Boost My Immune System With Nutrition?
The immune system is precisely that – a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. While many people have a habit of taking a multivitamin to protect against illness or any missed vitamins, there are quite a few vitamins, minerals and foods that can specifically boost your immune system!
The immune system often gets overlooked until we become sick and realize it might need a boost. Taking a daily multivitamin is just one of many ways to stay on top of your vitamin and mineral intake. By taking a look at the list below, you can see which foods are rich in some of the most influential players in our immune system. By adding these foods into your daily routine more often, you will give your immune system a nice natural boost that’s sure to result in fewer colds/flus and better energy levels overall!
Surprising foods to boost your immune system
Vitamin C: Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies while preventing the entry of new viruses.
Best food sources: bell peppers, hot chili peppers, berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach), citrus (oranges & clementines).
Vitamin E: Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, those that seek out and destroy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E enhances the production of B-cells, the immune cells that destroy bacteria.
Best food sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach.
Carotenoids: Beta carotene increases the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and helper T-cells, as well as being a powerful antioxidant that cleans up excess free radicals that accelerate aging.
Best food sources: sweet potato, kale, carrots, spinach, kale, basil, butternut squash.
Bioflavenoids: A group of phytonutrients called bioflavenoids aids the immune system by protecting the cells of the body against environmental pollutants. Bioflavenoids also reduce cholesterol’s ability to form plaques in arteries, which can ultimately lead to heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who eat the most bioflavenoids have less cardiovascular disease. Many foods high in bioflavenoids are also high in vitamin C!
Best food sources: bell peppers or sweet peppers, strawberries, citrus, broccoli, garlic, spinach, green tea.
Zinc: This valuable mineral increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection and helps them fight more aggressively. It also increases killer cells that fight against cancer and helps white cells release more antibodies. It’s safest to stick to getting zinc from your diet rather than a supplement or pill form.
Best food sources: oysters, cereal, crab, beef, turkey (dark), beans
Garlic: This is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural-killer cell activity and increases the efficiency of antibody production. Garlic can also act as an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream.
Best uses: Add garlic to sauces, stir fry’s, meatloaf, or salad dressing. If you know you’ll be adding garlic to a dish, crush or mince it a bit before you plan to add it to get the full benefits!
Selenium: This mineral increases natural-killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells.
Best food sources: halibut, tuna, cod, sardines, shrimp, salmon, barley, turkey, scallops.
Omega-3 fatty acids: The omega 3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. Your body can’t absorb fat-soluble vitamins without actually consuming fat! Steer clear of the fat-free or low-fat foods with added sugars, and instead eat good, healthy fats that contain omega-3.
Best food sources: Ground flax seed, walnuts, salmon, grass-fed beef, soybeans, scallops.
Probiotics: It is now known that certain bacteria in the gut influence the development of aspects of the immune system, such as correcting deficiencies and increasing the numbers of certain cells. Probiotics are good bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, that can safely dwell in your digestive tract. Look for labels that say “contain live and active cultures” when picking out yogurt!
Best food sources: Yogurt, kefir, kombucha tea, miso soup, sauerkraut, kimchi.
Hot foods such as chili peppers (which also contain vitamin C!), hot mustard, radishes, pepper, onions, and garlic naturally contain substances called “mucolytics” (similar to over-the-counter expectorant cough syrups) that liquefy thick mucus that accumulates in the sinuses and breathing passages.
Active people must also remember to get in their post-workout snack or meal! The body’s immune system is weakened following exercise due to a rise in cortisol (your stress hormone). By consuming a good nutritious meal, you can allow the immune system to bounce right back!
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.