When you think of the best foods to boost your immune system, you may think of foods that are high in vitamin C. While it’s true that an adequate daily intake of vitamin C can support your body’s immune response, there are other nutrients you should consider as well.
It’s important to strengthen your immune system by helping it respond to the illnesses and pathogens it may encounter. Striking the right balance with your immune response may be a key to your long-term health.
Proper nutrition can provide your body with many of the components it needs to prevent and fight illness. Let’s take a look at some immune-boosting foods and how to add them to your daily meals.
6 Immune-Boosting Foods and How to Work Them into Your Diet
Salmon is a fatty fish that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s have been shown to reduce an unhealthy inflammatory response in the body, which is important for maintaining a strong immunity. They also have anti-viral effects that can help reduce the rate of reproduction of the influenza virus.
Salmon is also rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from potentially harmful free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and tissues as they travel throughout the body. They can enter the body through UV light from the sun and pollutants in the air, but the body also produces them.
Wild-caught salmon is thought to be superior to farm-raised salmon. Some believe it has a slightly higher nutrition profile and fewer contaminants. Consuming wild-caught salmon can help you reap immune-supporting benefits.
Kale is often called a “superfood” because it has a variety of vitamins and minerals. As far as immunity is concerned, kale is a great source of the antioxidant vitamin C. Similar to vitamin E, vitamin C can neutralize free radicals and prevent the damage they can cause to body tissues.
The body may not function optimally when exposed to free radicals. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel ill, but the body can’t effectively fight illness when it’s in a less-than-optimal state.
Incorporating kale into smoothies, salads, or soups can help keep your body in tip-top shape!
Almonds are a great snack and can be added to salads or oatmeal. Almonds are packed with vitamin E, so they help reduce unhealthy inflammatory response and protect body tissues.
Almond butter can be used as a nutritious spread or fruit and veggie dip. Almond milk has some vitamin E too, and is another way to get almonds into your diet.
You may enjoy flavored or chocolate-covered almonds. Though these may taste great, they can be loaded with unhealthy ingredients.
Choose almonds that have minimal salt or sugar added to them to get the most benefit – plain almonds are best.
Avocados are an excellent source of vitamins C and E. They’re easy to incorporate into any meal or can be eaten as a snack. They can be added to salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and soups to deliver creaminess and a richer flavor.
Avocados have healthy fats that increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like D, E, and K. Avocados are also high in vitamin A, which can act like an antioxidant when it’s in the form of beta-carotene, or lutein and zeaxanthin. As mentioned earlier, antioxidants are incredibly important for helping the body optimize its immune response.
5. Chia and Flax Seeds
Chia and flax seeds have become popular in recent years. They are small, but full of protein, fiber, and healthy omega-3s.
Omega-3s have been shown to be effective in supporting a robust immune system by helping to prevent upper respiratory illnesses and reducing an unhealthy inflammatory response in the body.
Getting enough fiber is important for a healthy gut. Bacteria that live in your gut (and help make up your immune system) can consume fiber, and this helps them multiply. Having enough good bacteria in your gut is linked to a stronger immune system.
Ground flax seeds are ideal because their nutrients are well absorbed. Freshly ground flax seeds are even better if you have the time to pulse them a few times in your coffee grinder.
Chia or ground flax seeds can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, granola, or salads.
Spinach has vitamin C and a small amount of zinc. A deficiency of both vitamin C and zinc has been linked to a suppressed immune response, which may prolong the recovery process for those with a cold or flu.
Spinach is also a good source of fiber, so it feeds your good gut bacteria. This leafy green can be added to soups, stews, scrambled eggs, smoothies, juices, sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
Nutrition is a key factor in supporting your immune system.
Optimizing your nutrient intake, by adding plenty of fruits and veggies, can provide your body with the tools it needs to fight illness more effectively.
There are many creative ways to include these foods in your diet. It’s best to start with simple swaps to make the change more sustainable, such as adding avocado slices to your sandwich or kale to your morning smoothie.
Remember, nothing happens overnight. The best thing you can do is start where you are with what you have and know that it can take several months to solidify major changes to your eating pattern.
Give yourself plenty of grace and make sure to incorporate these immune-boosting foods into your diet.
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
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