by (DIY Health): A strong, functioning immune system is key to staying healthy and warding off colds, coughs, infection and disease…
Yet, many people don’t know that what you eat has a huge impact on immunity. By eating superfoods, including the following, you can boost your immunity, which is more important than ever.
Turmeric is a yellow-orange spice that’s common in curry and other Indian cuisines. Curcumin, an element of turmeric, happens to have anti-inflammatory effects, even changing the immune system’s response to enzymes that cause arthritis inflammation. If you truly want to reap the benefits of this spice, combine it with black pepper. Peperine, the active component in pepper, increases curcumin’s bioavailability by 2000%.
Garlic also livens up dishes while helping the immune system fight germs. Whole garlic cloves contain the compound alliin which, when you crush it, turns into allicin, the main active ingredient. It also breaks down into other sulfur-containing compounds that boost white blood cells’ defense against common illnesses like the flu.
Ginger is another spice you’ll often find in Indian foods. This immune-boosting root also reduces inflammation, making it an excellent addition to your diet after you get sick. You might also massage inflamed areas with ginger essential oils to reduce pain and ease stress and fatigue. One study involving mice even found that these oils were able to improve immunity in immuno compromised individuals.
Miso is a type of paste that Japanese cuisine relies upon heavily for marinades, glazes and sauces. Often, it comes from barley, soybeans, rice or a grain called koji. Miso contains B vitamins, zinc, manganese and probiotics that aid in gut health, thereby boosting your immunity. Frequently eating miso, then, may reduce your chances of contracting infections and minimize the need for antibiotics if you do become ill.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are right up there with carrots in regards to their beta-carotene content. Your body turns this compound into vitamin A, a key component in maintaining a healthy immune system. It also supports the health of mucous membranes that line your gut, which, as you now know, is critical to your immune response to infection.
Leafy green spinach is also chock full of beta-carotene. However, it also contains vitamin C. If anyone’s ever told you to drink orange juice when cold and flue season rolls around, it’s because citrus contains vitamin C, too. Obviously, this compound is quite effective in fighting off seasonal infections and other viruses that may try — and fail — to attack your body. Avoid overcooking the spinach or simply eat it raw to avoid breaking down these essential nutrients.
Like spinach, broccoli contains vitamins A and C and delivers the strongest boost to your immune system when you refrain from cooking it. It’s also a great source of fiber, vitamin E and antioxidants. However, what sets it apart from other greens is the compound sulforaphane glucosinolate, which fights insects that try to munch on it as well as viruses trying to attack your immune system.
Crab, lobster, oysters, mussels and other types of shellfish are incredibly high in zinc, a nutrient that supports immune cells. However, you should be careful not to consume more than the daily recommended amount. Otherwise, this overconsumption may actually suppress your immune response by reducing the function of T cells, a white blood cell that attaches to and destroys pathogens.
Watermelon is high in water content — if you couldn’t tell by its name — and consuming more of it aids your body in producing lymph. This fluid contains white blood cells and moves throughout the body to defend against disease and infection. Watermelon also contains an antioxidant called glutathione which helps strengthen the immune system. You can find most of this powerful compound in the red pulpy flesh nearest the rind.
Vitamin D is also essential to immune function. Luckily, yogurt contains quite a bit of it. Yogurt also has magnesium, selenium and zinc. All of these minerals play a major role in allowing the immune system to function at its highest capacity. Moreover, yogurt that contains living bacteria cultures or probiotics can also reduce inflammation and, as you know, protect against viral infections and gut disorders. Look for labels that boast live and active cultures and choose a low-fat variety for optimal health benefits.
The Big Picture
In order to strengthen your immune system, you must adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, adequate sleep as well as a balanced diet. Eating spinach and immunity-boosting foods without these other components won’t do much. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take care of yourself and support your body in every way possible. Only then will you completely supercharge your immunity and stay healthy in the long run.