Immunity truly does encapsulate the entire physiology of a person.
When you target your immunity by eating a variety of immune boosting foods, then you really can improve your entire body, both physically and mentally.
The immune system of a human being involves all aspects of one’s physiology and one’s daily experience. Eating certain foods can boost your health in a variety of ways. Below I outline several foods that will get you back on track if you’re feeling under the weather.
In order to even broach the topic of foods good for one’s immune system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the human body and experience.
What I mean by the human experience is one’s day to day mood, energy levels, and many other factors that signify how one engages with themselves and the world around them.
Before indulging in these foods below, I suggest striving for consistency with diet, activity levels, rest, and incorporating the practice of meditation or spending time in nature as part of your daily routine as well.
If you’re ready to feel better, not just when you’re under the weather but all the time incorporate these foods in your diet regularly.
Be sure to stock up on these foods if you’re in need of a boost.
1. Water is a Wise Choice
Yes I know I’m starting things seemingly simple, but one of my most popular YouTube videos discusses the importance of water!
When I ask people how much water they drink a day, the majority of time the answer begins with ‘not enough’.
So if you know you don’t drink enough water, why continue this pattern of behavior?
Now if you’re one that does hit that 5+ and more (pending activity levels) 8oz glasses a day – good for you! Water is life, and that’s where I’ll leave it.
2. Eggs — The Most Complete Protein
Widely regarded as the universally most complete nutritional protein source, eggs are packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and 9 essential amino acids.
Egg whites are rich in Vitamins D/E/K, B2, B5, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.
Meanwhile, egg yolks pack the calories and fats along with cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin.
It’s important to note that the average medium egg contains 76 calories, 7.5g protein, 5.1g fat, 1.4g sat fat – so consider this while integrating this near perfect super food in your next dish!
3. Raw Spinach Supports Immunity
This leafy green is a personal favorite of mine due to its versatility and great taste!
Spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold, flu, and reinforce the immune system.
It’s also quite high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which supports our immune system in fighting infection and viruses.
When enjoying this plentiful plant, do so raw. Its nutrients are best absorbed when the vegetable is raw; consider adding spinach as a fresh salad, rather than to a cooked dish, to reap the most immune system rewards.
4. Turmerics Benefit on T-Cells
Gaining popularity for its delicious taste, this powerful spice is also gaining notoriety for its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (which also creates the vibrant orange-yellow color).
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology notes that curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are of the primary cells fighting on behalf of your systems immunity.
5. Garlic is Really Good for You
This popular food not only tastes great but packs quite a punch.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which boasts a variety of medicinal properties. Garlic is also not very calorie dense; 1 ounce yields about 42 calories with 1.8g protein and 9g carbs.
Garlic also boasts Vitamin C, B6, Fiber, and Manganese.
The properties mentioned above helps maintain healthy bones, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, regulate thyroid, combat osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, improve cognitive function, and regulate glucose metabolism!
So, forget about garlic breath–eat this food in abundance!
6. Wild Salmon is Wonderful
A personal favorite of mine, wild Alaskan salmon is one of those super foods that covers all your nutrient bases!
Salmon can be cooked a variety of delicious ways, and yields some of the highest immune system boosting benefits.
Salmon contains fish oil Omega-3’s, which protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. Oils contained within such fish are quite unique in that they have Omega-3 fatty acids that are not present in any other food.
Also consider that wild salmon contains (per 4oz) 128% Vitamin D, 95% Vitamin B12, 94% tryptophan, 62% selenium, 53% protein, 53% omega 3’s, 45% Vitamin B3, 37% phosphorus, 32% Vitamin B6, 19% choline, 14% potassium, and 8%(157) calories.
This is one of those super foods that you could stand to have in your diet several times per week. Beyond the incredible taste, its nutritional benefits make it well worth seeking out.
7. Essential Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Many home cooks consider this an essential ingredient in preparing dinner. But it’s also quite good for you!
Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as being a healthy addition to any kitchen, with modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.
Per 100g of olive oil you can expect 14% saturated fat, 73% Monounsaturated fat, 10% Omega-6, 1% Omega-3, 72%, and 75% Vitamin K.
It also boasts an impressive antioxidant profile. This includes the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
8. Natural Greek Yogurt Has Many Benefits
When I talk about natural Greek yogurt, I mean the type that is not flavored in any way. Those added sugars won’t help boost immunity.
Many people have convoluted the immunity and health benefits of natural yogurt with the all too popular sugary treats that flood grocery stores. But it’s the plain stuff that’s the best to include in your diet.
Natural Greek yogurt not only goes great with many dishes, but it contains vast amounts of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied.
The reason why I’ve specified ‘Greek yogurt’ is because one cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt typically has 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.
Greek yogurt also contains essential probiotics (live microorganisms). These are bacteria microbes that help improve digestive function, the immune system, and overall gut health.
Add natural Greek yogurt to your diet, whether as a breakfast food, a substitute for sour cream, or as an addition to a healthy smoothie.
9. Ginseng Tea — Chock Full of Ginsenosides
Ginseng tea’s primary health benefits are due to the naturally occurring chemicals called ginsenosides present in the root.
One of ginseng’s most widely understood benefits include it’s rich anti-cancer properties.
Studies also indicate that people who drink ginseng tea have a lower risk of developing cancer.
Ginseng tea can also help relieve menstrual cramps, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function; and it has also been shown to help with sexual (erectile) dysfunction in men.
10. Green Tea Fights Aging
Just as powerful as ginseng tea, this extremely popular tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and aiding in the fight against cancer.
Green tea is in fact 30% polyphenols, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that aid in the prevention of cell damage and provide several other benefits.
EGCG, and substances like it can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, helping protect cells and molecules from damage.
Free radicals such as these are commonly known to play a role in aging and all sorts of other diseases.
This wonderful also tea contains small quantities of minerals that are important for overall health, so it may be worth picking up some green tea when visiting your next local tea shop.
11. Dark Chocolate — The Delicious Superfood
Don’t get too excited with this one – everything in moderation, of course!
And I’m not just referring to any chocolate — I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate and cacoa nibs, which are both immune system boosting super foods.
We’ve already covered free radicals in this article, and dark chocolate is one of those wonderful super foods that helps fight against such free radicals.
It does this with its high antioxidant profile which is believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.
Dark chocolate’s antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – helpful plant compounds. Much like other immune boosting foods on this list dark chocolate will also help balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and improve heart health, and cognitive function.
You now have a healthy excuse to eat some dark chocolate; but, go for the lowest sugar and highest cocoa content varieties you can find to reap the most rewards.
12. Frozen Blueberries for All!
Personally I love adding frozen blueberries to smoothies; however, sometimes I’ll pop over to the freezer just to grab a small handful as a treat!
Frozen blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which come from compounds called anthocyanins; these give blueberries their purple hue.
One really neat fact about the ice crystals that form when the berries are frozen is that they disrupt the structure of the plant tissue and make anthocyanins even more available – how cool is that? Talk about hacking blueberries!
Even if not frozen, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits. They have been known to boost memory, cardiovascular system, and eyesight. The fruit also encourages a process called authophagy, or ‘cell clean-up’.
Berries in general (raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) are extremely high on the ORAC scale. This means they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.
Frozen blueberries in particular may aid in defending colds and flu, as they are high in pterostilbene.
Next time you visit your local grocery store, consider how ideal blueberries are for your immune system and general health.
13. Raw Honey — A Natural Antioxidant
Saving the sweetest for last!
Pure natural raw honey follows the rest of this super food list with its antioxidant profile, however it also contains antibacterial and anti fungal properties.
Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and certain types contain just as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.
Raw honey can help the body kill-off unwanted bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic. Raw honey also contains phytonutrients, commonly found in plants, which provides both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Aside from these wonderful benefits, raw honey can also aid with digestive issues, however this typically varies person to person.
Indulge in Better Health
But also, don’t forget to rest! When considering one’s overall health, it’s important to not only incorporate these immune boosting foods, but also to ensure adequate sleep, and take efforts to reduce stress.
Eating these immunity boosting foods will enable you to take back control of your health and prevent illness… all while satisfying your cravings!
Featured photo credit: Joanna Kosinska via unsplash.com