OUR immune systems play such a huge role in disease prevention and keeping us healthy. Recent research has again found links between a lowered immune system and chronic disease. So how do you boost your immune system naturally?
According to a new research paper from the University Medical Centre Tubingen, the immune system can render tumours and cancerous cells inactive, permanently. So, if you boost your immune system naturally you have an effective cancer therapy without destroying any cells in the way chemotherapy does. But which foods can really help boost your immune system naturally?
An old folk remedy, extract from these dark berries appears to block flu viruses in test tube studies. However scientists do caution that further study is needed. The fruit itself is rich in antioxidants so may also have the ability to fight inflammation.
Don’t dismiss the humble mushroom. It contains the mineral selenium along with other antioxidants. Low levels of selenium have been linked to increased risk of developing more severe flu. The B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, found in these mushrooms, play a role in a healthy immune system. Animal studies have also shown mushrooms have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-tumour properties.
Touted as a superfood in the same category as blueberries, the little acai berry’s dark colour means it is high in antioxidants called anthocyanins. While the acai isn’t scientifically linked to any specific disease or illness-fighting ability, antioxidants do help your body fight aging and disease and will boost your immune system naturally. Acai berries can be found most often in juice or smoothie form, or dried and mixed with granola.
Aphrodisiac … immune boosters …? Could be both, due to the zinc that’s found in oysters. Low zinc levels have been linked to male infertility. Zinc also has some antiviral properties, although researchers can’t explain why. However, they do know it is important for several immune system functions, including wound healing.
Hydrating and refreshing, watermelon also contains high levels of the powerful antioxidant, glutathione. Known to help strengthen the immune system so it can fight infection, glutathione is found in the red pulpy flesh near the rind.
This is a great source of immune-strengthening glutamine. Cabbage is easy and inexpensive to find during the winter months when it’s in season. Try adding cabbages of any variety (white, red, Chinese) to soups and stews to sneak in extra antioxidants and boost your nutritional value.
A handful of almonds may boost your immune system naturally from the effects of stress. A recommended 1/4 cup serving carries nearly 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E, which helps boost the immune system. They also contain riboflavin and niacin, B vitamins that may help you bounce back from the effects of stress.
Grapefruits have a good level of vitamin C, but science has yet to prove that you can easily get enough vitamin C through foods alone, without supplementation, to help treat cold and flu. However, grapefruit is packed with flavonoids which are the natural chemical compounds found to increase immune system activation. Don’t like grapefruit? Try oranges or tangerines.
Wheat germ is the part of a wheat seed that feeds a baby wheat plant, so it is full of nutrients. It contains zinc, antioxidants, and B vitamins among other vital vitamins and minerals. Wheat germ also offers a good mix of fibre, protein, and some good fat. Substitute wheat germ for part of your regular flour in baked goods and other recipes.
A daily cup may reduce your chances of getting a cold. Look for labels listing ‘live and active cultures’. Some researchers believe they may stimulate your immune system to fight disease. Also look for vitamin D. Recent studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of cold and flu.
Garlic offers several antioxidants that battle immune system invaders. Among garlic’s targets are H. pylori, the bacteria associated with some ulcers and stomach cancer. Cooking tip: Peel, chop and let sit 15 to 20 minutes before cooking to activate immune-boosting enzymes.
Known as a superfood, spinach is nutrient-rich. It contains folate, which helps your body produce new cells and repair DNA. It also contains good levels of fibre, antioxidants, including vitamin C, and much more. Eat spinach raw or lightly cooked to get the most benefits.
Green or black? Both are loaded with disease-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants seek out cell-damaging free radicals and destroy them. Caffeinated and decaf work just as well.
Like carrots, sweet potatoes contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, which soaks up damaging free radicals. Sweet potatoes also have good levels of vitamin A, which is linked to slowing the aging process and may reduce the risk of some cancers.
Easy to find and incorporate into dinner, broccoli is an immune-boosting basic. One study reported a chemical in broccoli helped stimulate the immune systems in mice. Plus, it’s full of nutrients that protect your body from damage. It has vitamins A, vitamin C, and glutathione. Add some low-fat cheese to round out a side dish with immune-enhancing B vitamins and vitamin D.
- 4 Ways to boost your immune system using simple food choices (hollyleehealth.com)
- Good Health With Rich Antioxidant Foods (donnaposley.wordpress.com)
- Foods that Improve Your Health by Boosting the Immune System (optimalhealthinfo.wordpress.com)