Fall in love with these top immune boosting foods and help kickstart your system as the seasons change. It’s especially important to maintain your immune system as we battle cold and flu season plus Covid-19. Eating fresh, non-processed foods is so important to maintaining your immune health but these are my top picks and I try to keep them in my meal-prep rotation, especially in the Fall/Winter.
(1) Red Bell Peppers
Did you know that red bell peppers are technically a fruit? If not, that’s likely because they’re more commonly found in the vegetable produce section and are often incorporated into savoury dishes. But, they have seeds so they are a fruit! They’re also an immune-boosting sweet nugget, containing plenty of vitamins A and C.
In 1/2 cup serving of raw, red pepper, you’ll consume nearly 50% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and 160% of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight cell damage and boosts your immune response.
Note: cooking them reduces their vitamin potency by up to 25%.
(2) Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli sprouts are nutritional powerhouses and are essentially 3-5 day old broccoli plants. They contain sulforaphane – a natural bioactive compound that helps to activate the immune system against viruses. Broccoli sprouts provide around 100 times more glucoraphanin. Glucoraphanin is an inactive compound that’s converted into the beneficial phytochemical sulforaphane upon cutting or chewing. 1 cup of broccoli contains as much vitamin C as an orange plus the veggie is packed with tons of other vitamins, which naturally helps promote immune functions.
(3) Citrus Fruits
Don’t just turn to vitamin C after you’ve gotten sick. The key is to incorporate it into your diet regularly (especially during cold and flu season) to help you fight off infection. Vitamin C is said to increase the production of white blood cells, which you need to fight off illnesses. Since so many citrus fruits are packed with this immune-boosting nutrient, it’s easy to squeeze it in.
Next time you’re out grocery shopping add these fruits to the list: grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes to the list!
This leafy green was Popeye’s favourite for a reason: it’s loaded with numerous antioxidants, Vitamin C and beta carotene, which are all said to help boost immune system, Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients.
(5) Sunflower Seeds
Zinc is one of the best minerals for the immune system since it helps the body maintain and develop immune cells. So it’s no wonder that sunflower seeds made my immune-boosting list. They contain both zinc and selenium plus they are a source of many other vitamins and minerals that help your body fight viruses. They’re great to incorporate into your diet year round, but as especially important during cold and flu season. Sprinkle them on salads, toast, avocado or eat them on their own!
Over the decades, many studies on garlic have shown it to reduce inflammation and boost immune functions. Garlic’s high sulfur content is behind the bulb’s benefit as a cold and flu fighter. Sulfur in garlic is linked to your body’s ability to absorb the trace element zinc, which is an immunity booster.
Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects, making it a popular herbal supplement to treat inflammatory diseases. Studies have shown that the main bioactive compound of ginger root, 6-gingerol, is therapeutic in countering the mechanism that fuels certain autoimmune diseases (when tested on mice).
It’s actually often used in farm animals (to help their immune systems) since antibiotics are restricted in many areas.
Adding it to your smoothies, incorporating it into your teas or stiry-fry sauces or eating it raw (zing!!!) are just a few ways to add ginger to your diet. It’s said that a little bit of fresh everyday can do wonders for your body.
The above list are not the only immune-fighting foods nor are they they only ways to combat illness. it’s also recommended to get plenty of rest, eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, drink alcohol in moderation, and make sure you keep your hands clean.