14 Foods That Boost Your Immune System

14 Foods that Boost your Immune System

Are you wondering if any one food can really answer the question of how to boost your immune system? We are always exposed to infectious pathogens like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other toxins that exist in nature and cause diseases and illnesses.

Thankfully, our bodies are equipped with an immune system, our natural defence mechanism that works round the clock to protect us against these pathogens. In the unfortunate event a pathogen attacks out body, our immune system immediately sets up multiple defence mechanisms with a singular goal of deactivating the pathogen before it can do any serious harm to us.

As part of the process of mounting a defence against the foreign invader, the immune system harnesses existing white blood cells as well as makes more white blood cells to fight the invading organism and eventually create antibodies to protect us from a future attack.

In order to be able to fully defend us against thousands of germs we come across daily, the immune system has to be in the best shape. Certain foods boost our immune system to help our body fight infections better. Although no single food can protect you from all germs, incorporating certain foods into your portion controlled, balanced diet will go a long way with boosting your immune system.

At Vanda’s Kitchen, we incorporate these top foods as well as many superfoods, into many of our meals to help you meet your health and wellness goals, especially during challenging times when your immune system should be in the best shape.

1. Garlic

Garlic is not only a superfood; it is also an immune booster. Garlic has been used for centuries across many civilisations for its many medicinal uses, including the ability to fight infections.

The immune-boosting properties of garlic can be traced back mostly to a sulphur-containing compound contained in garlic, including allicin, that has been scientifically studied for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as immune boosting properties.

Garlic has been shown to reduce the incidence, duration, and severity of the common cold. Adding garlic to your meal can enhance the functioning of your immune system and help your body protect you better from pathogens while making your food move flavourful. If you need a food to boost your immune system, garlic should be on your list.

2. Spinach and Green Leafy vegetables

Spinach, like most other leafy vegetables, is high in fibre and low in calories. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K1, iron, calcium, folic acid and several other vitamins and minerals.

Due to its high vitamin C content as well as other immune system boosting nutrients, spinach has shown some effectiveness in treating infections, such as the common cold.

Spinach also contains antioxidants like beta carotene, a form of vitamin A which can boost our immune system, as well as folate, which is important for making red and white blood cells. White blood cells are the fundamental building blocks of our immune defence as they are the cells responsible for defending us when attacked by a germ.

3. Salmon

Most of us already know salmon as a superfood as well as one of the healthiest food sources available. While salmon may not be the first that comes to mind when you think of foods that boost your immune system, salmon does play a role when it comes to how well your body is able to fight an exposure to an invading organism.

Salmon is a good source of protein and omega-3s – both of which play a role in reducing inflammation. Controlling inflammation allows our immune system time to focus on fighting germs and other diseases and, consequently, boosts our disease-fighting response. Salmon is one of those food that meet the guidelines of what foods to consider when you’re wondering how to boost your immune system naturally.

4. Ginger

Very much like garlic, ginger has been used for centuries for flavouring food. However, Ginger is much more than that – it is useful for gut health, nausea, chronic pain, morning sickness, blood sugar, weight loss, heart health, cholesterol, and cancer prevention.  Ginger contains gingerol, a very powerful medicinal oil that is primarily responsible for most of the effects ginger has on the body.

Ginger also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, two properties that help our immune system function properly. Ginger is also beneficial for colds, sore throats, and related viruses, and is certainly an immune system boost.

5. Citrus

Citruses, including oranges, lemons, clementine, limes, and tangerines, are one of the most well-known classes of food that work to boost our immune system.

Although there are no magic foods that completely prevent you from getting sick, especially when exposed to a bug, citrus fruits come close to being perfect. Citrus fruits contain a large amount of vitamin C, which helps our body make more white blood cells to fight against invading organisms.

At Vanda’s Kitchen, we incorporate immune boosting citrus when possible in our premade meals for delivery around London.

6. Eggs

Generally you need a good intake of protein to maintain your body and support your immune system. There are various ways of getting protein, but eggs, if you are not allergic or sensitive to them, are a great source for vitamin D and E, both of which are important for immune function.

Eggs contain vitamin A, vitamin B12, and selenium, which also helps boost our immune system. Eggs also promote brain health, eye health, and energy. When possible, look for eggs from vegetarian-fed chickens as they tend to have more vitamins and minerals per egg. Eggs should be on your list of foods that boost your immune system.

7. Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are fruits and are related to tomatoes and chilli peppers. They come in many colours, including yellow, red, orange, and green, are low in calories but nutritionally dense with antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, all of which boost our immunity.

Bell peppers are also loaded with lots of other minerals and vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K1 as well as potassium and folate, all of which aid in making our immune system stronger. All bell peppers are nutritionally sound, but if you really want to get the most vitamin C to help your immune system, try red and yellow peppers – one medium red pepper has 153mg of vitamin C, over 200% of our recommended daily intake (RDI)

8. Tomatoes

Very much like bell peppers, tomatoes are fruits that contain a lot of vitamins and antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and folate. Folate plays a role in the production of white blood cells that our body needs to fight infections.

Tomatoes help our body control inflammation and also improves heart function. Vitamin C, which is found in abundance in tomatoes, helps boost our immune system. Another major antioxidant found in tomato, lycopene, is beneficial in reducing the risk of certain cancers like breast cancer. Tomatoes come in so many shapes and colours, including red, yellow, green, orange, and purple, and it’s best eaten fresh, just like we make it at Vanda’s Kitchen.

9. Sweetcorn

Apart from being sweet and a favourite part of meals, especially when in season, sweetcorn is also a whole grain that reduces the risk of certain types of cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It is a great source for fibre and good carbs and contains some protein.

Sweetcorn also has a good number of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, copper, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin A, and various types of vitamin B. Sweetcorn contains antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which improve our eye health, reduce inflammation, and promote our gut health. Eating sweetcorn is a good way to boost your immune system naturally.

10. Cabbage

Cabbage is part of the same family as brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower and has been used for thousands of years as a nutritious, leafy vegetable. Cabbage is high in fibre, low in calories, contains zero fat, and comes in different colours, including green and red.

It is a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. Cabbage also lowers cholesterol, improves digestion, accelerates weight loss, improves heart health, reduces inflammation, and helps prevent certain types of cancers due to its high content of anthocyanins, an anti-cancer antioxidant.

11. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is not only low in calories; it also has a lot of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. This bright plant is a fruit but is often cooked and served as a vegetable. Butternut squash is a source for powerful antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E - all of which protect the cells. Vitamin A is known to protect us from infections caused by pathogens.

Butternut squash also contains minerals including zinc and calcium, as well as beta-carotene, a very important natural plant pigment that supports our immune functions and processes. This is one of our top foods that boost the immune system naturally.

12. Soya beans

Soya beans, also known as soybeans, come in different colours ranging from green to yellow to black. They are low in fat, high in protein, and a good source for iron, calcium, phosphorous, and many other vitamins and minerals. Soybeans contain vitamin C, which is known for boosting our immune system. Soybeans reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase our good cholesterol (HDL).

They reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancers, as well as help with managing diabetes and balancing blood sugar amongst so many other positive benefits. Soya beans is on our list of best foods to boost the immune system.

13. Beetroot

Beetroot is a low calorie, high fibre, sweet vegetable that contains a great deal of minerals and vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and potassium and helps to reduce cholesterol.

Vitamins C boosts and strengthens the immune system, and potassium plays a roll in nerve repair and nerve function. Beets also contain betalain, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrient. Beetroots are known to lower blood pressure, support liver health, boost stamina, increase energy levels, and reduce inflammation. They are also good for our hearts and have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties.

14. Tofu

Tofu is mostly from soybeans, and very much like soybeans, it packs a punch with nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, including iron, phosphorus and magnesium. It is known to prevent certain diabetes, heart disease, and cancers. Tofu also helps with weight loss and is often used as a protein substitute in many dishes. Tofu reduces our bad cholesterol as well as improves our triglyceride levels. Being rich in antioxidants, Tofu helps to improve and boost our immune system to keep us healthier, longer. 

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