Saturday August 20, 2022
Our immune system is a complex network of intricate stages and pathways in the body consisting of organs, cells, tissues, and proteins. Our immune system is the body’s natural defense against foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The immune system requires a healthy balance of nutrients from food, particularly plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Incorporating specific foods into the diet may strengthen a person’s immune response. Maintaining a healthy nutritious diet helps keep the immune system balanced and ready to fight against infection and viruses.
Which foods boost the immune system?
Green tea is packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green tea also contains high levels of another powerful antioxidant, epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG which has been found to boost immune function. Green tea is not fermented but steamed which maintains the EGCG. To top it off, green tea is also a good source of L-theanine, an amino acid that may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
A medium-sized papaya has over 200% of the daily value of vitamin C making it part of an immune-healthy diet. Papayas also contain an enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory benefits, particularly for digestion. Papayas also provide notable amounts of potassium, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber and vitamin A. Like all fruits papayas have natural sugars, in fact a medium-sized papaya has 21.58 grams of sugar so make sure to eat an amount that supports your health needs.
Kiwis boast a whole range of nutrients such as iron, potassium, dietary fiber, antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamin E, vitamin K and vitamin C. Adding kiwis to your diet can support heart and digestive health, as well as immunity. One medium kiwi packs 71 mg of vitamin C, or 79% of the daily value. Many people prefer to peel off the skin because of its fuzzy texture, though the skin and seeds are edible. Kiwis are readily available throughout the year in supermarkets.
Blueberries are incredibly healthy and nutritious. They contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin, that has antioxidant benefits that may help boost immune function. A one cup serving of blueberries has 4 grams of fiber, 24% of the daily value of vitamin C, 36% of the daily value of vitamin K and 25% of the daily value of manganese.
Ginger root is a popular ingredient in a variety of dishes, desserts and even teas. It’s antioxidant compounds have strong anti-inflammatory and immune boosting benefits. Antioxidants in foods help the body fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Ginger can also support healthy digestion and ease nausea. Two easy ways to enjoy the benefits: Grate fresh ginger and add to stir fried veggies or steep in hot water to make a tea.
Garlic is not only a staple kitchen ingredient but has been used since early civilizations as a must-have for promoting good health. Today it is a very common home remedy for helping reduce the severity of cold and flu. Garlic’s immune boosting benefits come from high concentrations of sulfur containing compounds, such as allicin.
To take advantage of the true benefits, use raw garlic cloves, not garlic powder.
Watermelon is not only a refreshing summer treat but an immune-boosting fruit. One 2-cup serving of watermelon has 270 mg of potassium, 30% of the daily value of vitamin A, and 25% of the value of vitamin C. Watermelon also boasts vitamin B6 and the antioxidant glutathione which support the body with immune system health.
The red pulpy flesh near the rind contains the highest levels of glutathione.
Spinach receives high ranking as a superfood thanks to its high content of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and iron. These nutrients help boost immune function and provide the body with necessary nutrients to make new cells and repair DNA.
To preserve the nutrients in spinach, it’s best to eat it raw or lightly cooked.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, a type of antioxidant that gives them their rich orange color. Beta carotene is a source of Vitamin A. One medium sweet potato provides 120% of the daily value of vitamin A and 30% of the daily value of vitamin C. These vitamins are crucial for boosting immune system function and supporting the aging process, particularly great for your skin. Sweet potatoes also offer a healthy portion of fiber.
Important to note that sweet potatoes have a high glycemic index and glycemic load so should be eaten in moderation. Our favorite ways to enjoy this orange root vegetable are baked sweet potato fries, or simply just baked.
Broccoli is a nutrient-packed veggie making it an excellent choice to eat regularly to support the immune system. It is high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. The veggie also provides many B vitamins including B1, B2, B3 and B6. It also contains potent antioxidants, such as glutathione.
To reap the full benefits of broccoli it is best eaten raw or lightly steamed.
Noni fruit in it’s raw pulp form provides 165+ beneficial enzymes and compounds. These include natural antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, soluble and insoluble fiber, essential fatty acids, and countless other vitamins and minerals that promote overall good health and boost the immune system.
Noni is an antioxidant powerhouse completely blowing well known antioxidants like apples, blueberries, acai berries and pomegranate out of the water. In fact, one 2x2 inch serving of Noni Fruit Leather contains 6024 ORAC (which is 1½ times the recommended daily intake). It contains the antioxidant quercetin which plays a role in regulating the immune system’s response to harmful stimuli through cell signaling pathways (kinases and phosphatases) needed for proper cellular function.
Noni contains damncanthal which has been shown to stimulate T cell activity and may help address various forms of damaged cells. Noni is a good source of vitamin C, amino acids and the powerful anti-inflammatory scopoletin.
A word of caution, not all forms of noni are created equal nor do they all maintain the potency noni has to offer. For the strongest health benefits you want raw noni pulp and unfermented. One 2oz packet of Noni Fruit Leather is equivalent to drinking fourteen...yes fourteen 32oz bottles of noni juice when comparing nutrient value. For more on Noni Fruit Leather vs. Noni Juice click here
Balance is Key
Eating a healthful, balanced diet consisting of a range of vitamins and minerals is just one way to support immune health. It is also equally important to be mindful of lifestyle factors like good quality sleep, effectively managing stress, and daily regular exercise to most effectively support our body’s complex immune system so it’s ready to defend for us when called upon.