Having a healthy immune system is a goal we should be working towards year round, however now we especially need to take proper care. Ensuring that our immune system is strong and ready to fight any virus or bacteria starts with the food we eat. Besides providing our bodies with the necessary vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals, certain foods also have anti-inflammatory properties, act as antioxidants, and improve your good gut bacteria. Combined with a good sleep schedule, regular exercise, and efforts in reducing stress, viruses will be no match for you! Scroll on down for a list of some immune boosting foods.
Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties due to its raw constituents gingerol, shogaol, and paradol. These give ginger the benefit of inhibiting cytokines in the body that cause inflammation. Ginger is also known to cleanse the lymphatic system that helps rid the body of toxins and waste. Overall, it is basically a superhero when it comes to protecting and healing the body.
How to: fresh ginger tea is easy to make (grate or thinly slice the root, pour boiling water over and steep for 15 min; add lemon and honey if you wish). Ginger roots can also be added to juices and smoothies, or it can be used as a spice when you cook (goes great with Asian cuisines)
Turmeric is another great anti-inflammatory food. Curcumin, the active ingredient, is antiviral, antifungal, and has potential to disrupt harmful processes in the body as it blocks molecules that play a role in increasing inflammation. But, in order for it to live up to its full potential you must mix turmeric with black pepper as it increases absorption.
How to: add turmeric to curries, soups, sauces, make golden lattes, or even juice fresh turmeric roots!
Garlic boosts your body’s natural immune function by stimulating lymphocytes and other white blood cells. These are responsible for your body’s initial immune response of fighting off viruses and pathogens. It contains more than 100 biologically useful chemicals and is one of the best and probably easiest foods to incorporate into your daily diet.
How to: garlic can be eaten raw, minced in with lemon, herbs, olive oil for a salad dressing; even cooked it still keeps a lot of its immune boosting properties so be sure to incorporate it into every dish you make - it also adds so much amazing flavor!
As you probably already know, greens are extremely good for your health - they are a great source of vitamins such as C and E, as well as minerals like immune-boosting folate and blood-building iron. Dark leafy greens such as spinach, swiss chard, and kale, are especially rich in antioxidant properties and fiber which keeps the digestive system regular thus eliminating toxins.
How to: greens can be eaten as salads, sauteed with garlic, used in smoothies and juices, or tossed in stir-fries.
Keeping your gut healthy is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. Eating foods that are rich in probiotics not only helps with digestion, but decreases the chance of bad bacteria surviving in your gut because it keeps the pH level lower.
How to: incorporate the following into your regular diet - coconut kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kombucha
* It’s important to keep in mind that regularly eating foods that are bad for you and cause inflammation are just going to reverse all the good you’re doing. So be sure to eliminate (or limit):
- sugar and artificial sweeteners
- highly processed foods. They contain fillers, additives and preservatives that are hard to digest; they spike your blood sugar and sodium levels, interfere with sleep, etc.
- hydrogenated oils such as vegetable, soybean, canola, and corn. Instead use coconut, olive, and avocado oil