To fight off flu season this year, you may be wondering what type of foods you can eat to promote a strong immune system. Although there is no miracle food, having a diet that contains a wide variety of nutrients can be advantageous for your health.
To function to its fullest capability, the body needs vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, minerals, fats, and phytonutrients. More often than not, most diets in the United States consists of junk food, processed meat, and excess sugar. With a diet like this, our immune systems are not getting the nutrients they need, making us vulnerable to chronic disease.
The best way to give your body the nutrients that it needs, you need to think of your diet as a rainbow.
Foods that are red, orange, and yellow have a higher probability to carry vitamin C. Vitamin C is a key component in helping promote a strong immune system. Good sources of vitamin C include red bell peppers, strawberries, citrus, fruits, and tomatoes. Keep in mind that these foods are often best eaten raw. Cooking or storing these vitamin-enriched foods can reduce the vitamin C content.
Leafy green vegetables are loaded with many powerful nutrients. Green vegetables often have a high percentage of vitamin D. Your Vitamin D intake and the status of your immune system goes hand in hand. Vitamin D helps activate an anti-microbial response that helps you fight off and foreign germs before it leads to an infection.
Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and arugula are all high in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and magnesium. Not only can these vegetables help you strengthen your immune system, but research has shown that they may play a role in lowering your risk of prostate, colorectal, lung and breast cancer.
Foods that are blue and violet hued, like dried prunes or figs, are rich in fiber. Research indicated that soluble fiber helps to boost the production of the protein interleukin-4. This protein helps to stimulate the body’s infection-fighting T-cells, meaning you can recover from your sickness faster.
While eating a collection of colorful vegetables will help your immune system get in tip-top shape, don’t forget your blander colored foods. Garlic and Brazil nuts may not be colorful but are great sources of selenium, a mineral that helps your body make proteins that help prevent cell damage. Additionally, the bacteria found in yogurt can be quite beneficial in keeping your gut microbiome healthy.