6 superfoods to eat for a strong and healthy immune system

Immunity is important all year, every year, but it seems to be a hotter health topic than ever in the past few years. And it’s always especially important when cold and flu season continues (and lasts through winter — and sometimes early spring). Fortunately, it is possible to protect yourself from colds and sick days Maintain a healthy immune system On your own through daily habits. One of the best lifelong ways to support your immunity is through smart nutrition and eating habits. Noshing on Immunity boosting foods (and have a few drinks) Not only is it effective, but it’s easier and tastier than you think.

Why nutrition is important for immunity

If you’re on a mission to improve immune function, your diet is a great place to start. Nutrition is A major factor affecting the immune system And ultimately, how well the body can protect itself from harmful germs. He explained that immune cells require certain nutrients to function properly Gary E. DingMD, PhD, an Integrative Medicine Specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. These nutrients may work by sparking critical cellular reactions, providing energy to immune cells or fighting off harmful molecules, to name a few, according to 2019 article In Nutrients Journal.

Eat more plants, probiotics and protein.

But what does eating for immunity look like, exactly? Fortunately, according to Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsthe best food plan for a strong immune system that pairs very well with it Familiar nutrition tips, and special emphasis should be placed on lots of whole plants, most notably fruits and vegetables. These plant foods provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which are needed to fuel immune cells. An immune-boosting diet is also required Foods that contain probiotics (Those “good” bacteria L A healthy gut microbiome) And Lean proteinwhich is both an animal plant sources can offer.

Eat fewer highly processed, packaged, and refined foods.

Nourishing your immune system involves eating less of certain foods, too. These generally less wholesome foods include ultra-processed and refined foods, which are often stripped of immune-supporting nutrients (such as natural fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals). Not only do they fail to provide what is needed, but they can too Actively undermines the immune system when eaten a lot. Oxidative stress can cause and contribute to inflammation, prompting your body to use up its supply of antioxidants to fight those processes, rather than being ready and able to fight off the microscopic intruders that cause disease, says a registered dietitian. Ryan Geiger, RDN. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy ice cream and french fries! But your system will thank you if these foods become a lower priority in your daily eating habits.

And of course, what you eat and drink is only one part of boosting immunity. else Important habits includes Stress managementAnd Get enough sleep (that’s seven to eight hours for most adults), and Stay physically active.

When it comes to everyday meals and grocery shopping, here are the best immune-boosting ingredients to reach for.

The best foods for immunity

leafy greens

Anna Williams

In addition to support Heart health And brain functionLike leafy greens cabbageSpinach, Swiss chard and watercress are among the best foods that can be eaten on repetition. Leafy greens are rich in micronutrients, in particular Vitamin C And Vitamin Kthat [are essential for promoting] A healthy immune system,” says Geiger. Other immune-supporting nutrients in leafy greens include: beta carotene And Folic acid, or vitamin b9. To get your fill from leafy greens, aim for at least 2 cups per day, she says. And remember, you’re not limited to salads in any way: try to keep it refreshing green juice Or add a handful of greens to the soupAnd cookAnd omeletteAnd pasta dishesand cereal bowls.

Probiotic foods

Victor Protasius

When it comes to gut health, Probiotic foods like TempeYogurtAnd kefirand kimchi sauerkraut Show steal. And since gut function is linked to immunity, these probiotic-rich options are multifunctional superfoods. The “good” bacteria in probiotic foods strengthen immune cells in the lining of the gut, Dr. Ding explains, adding that these microbes also metabolize foods to generate nutrients that would otherwise not be available to the body. This ensures that your immune system gets the nutrients it needs to fetch the game. To get the best immune-supporting benefits, Dr. Ding recommends adding probiotic foods to your diet two to three times per week. Start your day with greek yogurt with chopped nuts and berries. have a snack Naturally fermented pickles; or your higher Fish tacos with sauerkraut.


Greg Dupree

When it comes to immune-boosting foods, you can’t go wrong with berries like strawberries, blueberries, and blueberries. According to Dr. Ding, berries are rich in antioxidants that help protect healthy cells from damaging molecules. He adds that berries also provide vitamin C (especially strawberries), an essential nutrient for immunity, and fiber, which supports “good” bacteria in the digestive tract. aim for Two half-cup servings of berries per weekwhich is easy to do with savory foods such as Baked oatmeal with berries And juice bowls. Or you can always chew it by a handful of cardboard in the fridge.

Lean protein

Caitlin Pencil

Although the vitamins and antioxidants we get from plant foods are often linked to immune function, protein It is just crucial. “protein [helps] The body repairs tissues and muscles, builds antibodies, and promotes the synthesis of amino acids needed for immune function,” says Geiger. For the healthiest option, choose lean proteins, which are low in saturated fat. It raises blood pressure LDL or “bad” cholesterol when consumed in large quantities). Examples of lean protein sources include tofuAnd beansAnd lentiland skinless chicken or turkey and white meat fish like tilapia.

Green tea

Grace Alkos

You can drink your way to better immunity, too. Delightfully refreshing, green tea is a must-have in your tea drawer. Green tea for him A variety of antioxidantsIncluding [a] A plant compound called Epigallocatechin gallateGeiger explains. “This compound can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve function.” Enjoy green tea hot or cold, or add it to a smoothie for a delicious flavor boost.

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