Now is the time to boost your immune system. As the Delta variant spreads and experts say there is an uptick of colds and other viruses, building a strong defense against invading pathogens has never been more important. By giving your body the right nutrients to keep your immune system strong, you can dodge viral attacks and disease.
Chronic inflammation may be the root cause of many of our dreaded diseases. The four horsemen of the medical apocalypse — coronary disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s — may be riding the same steed — inflammation, say experts at Harvard Medical School.
Therefore, it is important to eat foods that both boost the immune system and lower inflammation.
Susan Levin, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, adds that we should “eat the colors of the rainbow” to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of disease.
“The pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors represent a variety of protective compounds. Eating plant-based foods plays an important role in reducing the risk for breast, prostate and other forms of cancer,” she says.
According to The Beet, eating as many immune boosting foods as you can every day while shunning the foods that cause inflammation can tilt the odds in your favor when bullet-proofing your body against disease-causing pathogens. Avoid processed meat, excess sugar, and overly processed foods that weaken your army of defenses. Instead, load up your plate with these foods that boost immunity and reduce inflammation:
- Leafy greens. Spinach, kale, arugula, and chard are chock full of vitamins A, C and E to enhance the immune system and boost your protection against infectious diseases. Vitamin A especially helps the body’s immunity by removing potentially harmful cells in our body, such as those that can become malignant.
- Tomatoes. These immune-boosting powerhouses contain lycopene, which helps prevent breast and prostate cancer, says Levin. According to research, lycopene may also reduce your risk for heart disease. Tomatoes also contain potassium which helps control blood pressure, and vitamin K which is important for blood coagulation and bone health.
- Red bell peppers. These peppers boast the highest amount of vitamin C, which Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling suggested could cure everything from the common cold to cancer. Research has shown vitamin C to reduce inflammation, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, according to The Beet.
- Apples. Well, naturally, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and that is because this fruit is the reigning prince of fiber. Fiber helps shift the bacteria in your gut to lower inflammation and help stave off heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. “Soluble fiber changes the personality of immune cells,” says Dr. Gregory Freund, a pathologist in Urbana, Ill. “They go from being proinflammatory, angry cells to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help us recover faster from infection.”
- Oily fish. Fish like salmon, trout, anchovies, and sardines are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are a precursor to many compounds that play a role in the immune response, says Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families.
- Mushrooms. One study found that mushrooms contain powerful “immune-modulatory and/or antitumor activity” which means they have the power to fight off both dangerous invaders and growing cancer cells.
- Carrots. Drinking 16 ounces of carrot juice daily significantly increases the antioxidant status in our bodies and lowers the markers of inflammation. Carrots contain beta carotene, which is the precursor of vitamin A, a vital nutrient for cell growth and for supporting heart, lung, vision, and kidney function, says The Beet.
- Yogurt. Yogurt supports a healthy digestive system which in turn bolsters the immune system. “The immune system is the main link between our gut bacteria and how it influences our health,” says Gabby Geerts, a registered dietitian at Green Chef.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.