Our immune system is responsible for protecting our body from disease-causing or lethal microorganisms. It does a great job, but sometimes it fails because of immunosuppression in an individual or attack of a very large number of pathogens and makes you ill.
An individual must adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent diseases. Many products are available in the market that claims to increase a person’s immunity, but you must know that immunity is not increasing the number of immune cells in our body; that is what most supplements do. It is because different cells work against different pathogens, and we do not know which cells must be increased in our body.
According to the studies, our healthy immune system depends on our dietary intake. It is usually observed that the people living in poverty are more susceptible to diseases. Some nutrients like selenium, iron, vitamins A, B, C, E, and others change the activity of our immune system and expose us to different diseases. Stress is one of the major causes of immunosuppression in different individuals.
Foods to Boost the Immunity
Proper diet and exercise are beneficial for having a strong immune system. There are certain foods available that provide you with all the essential nutrients that boost your immune system. Some of the foods to boost our immune system and their importance are discussed below.
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are too important for our immune system and protect us from several diseases, including cancer and kidney stones. Vitamin C present in citrus increases the number of lymphocytes in the body that are the most important cells fighting against the invading microbes.
Some fruits are included in the list of citrus fruits and can be taken with our food. Some citrus fruits are:
Vitamin C is not produced or stored in our body, so its daily uptake is necessary for better health conditions. The amount recommended for adults is:
- 75 mg for women
- 90 mg for men
If you are taking Vitamin C supplements, never exceed the 2000mg limit for a day. Although it is effective against many diseases like the cold, its effectiveness is not observed against the coronavirus.
2. Bell pepper
Bell peppers are known for their high Vitamin C content. Most people think that citrus fruits are the only source of Vitamin C, but the bell peppers contain a much higher Vitamin C content than them. The red bell peppers have three times more Vitamin C content than the Florida orange. Vitamin C not only provides immunity against various diseases but also important for healthy skin. This vitamin has antioxidant effects too.
Moreover, bell peppers are rich in beta carotenes. Our body converts the beta carotenes into vitamin A that is important for healthy skin, mucous membrane, and immune system. One bell pepper is enough to meet the 19 percent demand of the recommended amount of beta carotene.
Broccoli is enriched in many minerals and vitamins. This vegetable is a nutrient pack of Vitamin A, C, E, carotenes, iron, zinc, and all other essential nutrients for the proper functioning of our body. It is the best and healthiest vegetable to boost our immune system, which also contains different antioxidants and fibers.
Broccoli helps to control the blood sugar level and to attain healthy weight standards. Fibers in this vegetable are good for the heart and protect us from various cardiovascular diseases. Be careful while cooking it. Overcooking can result in the loss of all the essential nutrients. It is better to eat it as a raw vegetable or steam it to keep the nutrients.
Garlic is an important thing that all of us use in our daily lives. It not only adds flavor to our foods but also keeps us healthy. It was used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent in the past. Garlic boosts our immune system, kills the invading pathogen like viruses and fight infections.
The Sulphur compound called allicin has an antiviral effect, so garlic is well known because of its ability to kill the flu virus. This item also prevents the hardening of the arteries and lowers our blood pressure to some extent. It also cures high cholesterol levels in the body.
Ginger is an essential food item for the cure of inflammation and an effective immune system. It is effective against sore throat, nausea, and other inflammatory diseases. Many antioxidants are present in the ginger, too, that are beneficial against stress and DNA damage. It helps our body fight against high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and many other chronic diseases.
The daily uptake must not exceed 4 grams per day; otherwise, it can have some side effects like heartburn, diarrhea, and other problems. People suffering from heart diseases and diabetes should be careful while taking it as a supplement and should consult their doctor.
Spinach is enriched in Vitamin C, K, A, and beta carotenes and contains a large number of antioxidants. So, it is a good vegetable to boost our immune system and protect our body from infection-causing microorganisms.
It is one of the healthiest vegetables among other green vegetables. Like broccoli, overcooking can result in the loss of essential nutrients, but light cooking is essential. Doing so makes it easier for our body to absorb Vitamin A and other minerals.
Yogurt contains microorganisms called probiotics that help our body fight against microbes by stimulating our immune system and beneficial for various gastrointestinal issues. It has many proteins and vitamins, especially Vitamin D, that increase the efficiency of the natural defense system of our body but is also good for our bones.
The lactobacillus bacteria present in yogurt effectively fight against candida that causes a serious infection in humans. It normalizes the metabolism and helps in weight control. While buying it, go for a plain one because flavored yogurts are packed with high sugar concentration. You can enhance its taste by adding honey or different fruits.
Almonds are well known for their effectiveness against the common cold and the flu. They give an effective response against may viral infections and increase the number of white blood cells in the body. Vitamin E enables the immune system to kill bacteria and prevent infections.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that needs fats to absorb properly in the body. This vitamin, as an antioxidant, protects our body cells from free radicals too. It has some other vitamins and healthy fats too. The recommended daily amount of Vitamin E intake of the body is 15mg which a half-cup serving of almonds can fully provide.
9. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds contain many nutrients like zinc, magnesium, selenium, Vitamins B, and E. These nutrients are essential for boosting your immune system. Zinc is important for maintaining and developing immune cells. These are rich in calories and have an adequate amount of fiber. Sunflowers seeds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
According to the studies, it is observed that selenium is effective against viral diseases like swine flu. Approximately 1 ounce of sunflower seeds is enough to meet the 50% recommended daily intake for adults.
Turmeric is used in many dishes and has anti-inflammatory action for treating diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The curcumin present in it decreases the body’s muscle damage, boosts the immune response, and has antiviral effects on our bodies.
Its intake is effective against stress and flu. The daily intake must not exceed 1000mg per day. Too much turmeric can cause kidney stones as it contains oxalates. It treats bruises, pains, eye infections, and wounds.
11. Green tea
Green tea has many antioxidants like flavonoids and epigallocatechin gallate that are effective against stress conditions and increase the body’s immune response. Green tea slows down the viral spread from one cell to the other by inhibiting the neuraminidase enzyme.
One other compound in green tea, L-theanine, increases the number of regulatory T cells that help the immune system and decrease the risk of autoimmune system in the body.
Papaya is super loaded with vitamin C content. A medium-sized fruit has approximately double the amount of vitamin C recommended for an adult. The papain, a digestive enzyme found in papaya, has anti-inflammatory effects. It is also high in antioxidants concentration that reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and oxidation of cholesterol to prevent blockage of blood vessels.
The fibers present in it decrease the cholesterol level in the body. The folic acid found in papaya converts the homocysteine into less harmful amino acids and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
This fruit is loaded with nutrients that boost our immune system. It is enriched in vitamin C, K, potassium. The Vitamin C concentration in it is more than double the recommended daily intake for an adult. This fruit can boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in the body.
Verdict | Foods that Boost the Immune System
Keep in mind; our body does not need just one vitamin or compound. Proper nutrition with meals containing all the essential nutrients is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system to find against the diseases. Excess of everything is bad, so be cautious because excess intake of different nutrients can cause risk factors in the body too.