Proper nutrition can make a powerful difference to the functioning and balance of the immune system. A healthy, well-functioning immune system determines our overall state of health, helping to prevent disease and speed up recovery and healing. Discover nutritional strategies and solutions to optimize immune balance and strengthen your body’s natural defenses against viruses and unfriendly bacteria.
Eight Plant Based Superfoods For a Healthy Immune System
Did you grow up sipping on a ginger ale whenever you were homesick? The intention was good; the execution needed a little help. Skip the soda, which has a ton of inflammatory refined sugar, and go straight to the whole food source instead: ginger! Ginger is excellent for the immune system, thanks to its high antioxidant content.
Garlic has been utilized to help colds for centuries, but it’s not just an old wive’s tale. There’s science at work here! Garlic contains compounds called alliin, which are shown to boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
More good news: you don’t have to munch on raw garlic cloves to reap its medicinal benefits.
Turmeric isn’t just great for inflammation; it can help your immune system thrive too! Curcumin, the compound in turmeric that makes your curry yellow, also seems to activate T cells and other pathogen-fighting cells in the body, which helps you fend off illness easier.
Mushrooms are high in Vitamin D (which activates the immune system response and helps T cells do their job of warding off infection). They’ve also got beta-glucans, which have been shown to activate killer cell function and help you ward off illness.
Beets have some fantastic health benefits, one of which is improving gut health. A healthy gut often translates to a healthy immune system. Beets help cleanse the liver and contribute fiber to promote good digestive health all around. Fiber helps you stay regular, feeds beneficial gut bacteria, and keeps digestive illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis at bay. Wins across the board!
6. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like wild fermented sauerkraut, salt brine pickles, miso, kefir, and yoghurt can add significant benefits to the health of your immune system by increasing your beneficial gut flora especially if you live in a coronavirus hotspot, which could be right in your own neighbourhood, workplace, town or city.
7. Oranges, Strawberries, Kiwis
We all know Vitamin C is good for our immune system (hello, antioxidants!), but don’t go reaching for the OJ just yet. Orange juice is typically loaded with refined sugars and other ingredients, which can cause inflammation in your body. Instead, reach for whole food sources. My favorite fruits with vitamin C are oranges, strawberries, and kiwis.
When it comes to your health, you can’t go wrong with oatmeal. Oats are great for weight loss, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, and digestion, among many things. They’re loaded with fiber ( great for your gut!), and oats also have zinc, an essential nutrient for your immune system because it helps T cells and natural killer cells function correctly to ward off viruses.
Why Is Fiber Important For Us?
The most important role of fiber in the diet is to feed intestinal bacteria. When gut bacteria consume fiber, they produce a fatty acid by-product known as butyrate. Healthy intestinal cells will die without butyrate as a source of energy. Butyrate benefits the body by controlling inflammation and stopping cancer development.
In the presence of butyrate, a gut is less likely to suffer from inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s disease and colitis. The fatty acid butyrate keeps the gut wall healthy and sealed to suppress leaky gut.
How Can I Increase My Butyrate Levels?
- Eat fiber-rich insoluble foods that feed good gut bacteria: dark leafy greens, vegetables, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, black, red, or brown rice, amaranth, seeds, and nuts.
- Eat Soluble fiber-rich foods – oats, oat bran, chia seeds, milled flax seeds, rice bran, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas, and potatoes.
- Eat foods rich in beneficial bacteria and yeast. Beneficial bacteria will calm inflammation by releasing anti-inflammatory signals in the body. Wild fermented foods help strengthen the digestive system, restore metabolism, and curb inflammation.
Maintaining A Strong Immune System
Suppose you become deficient in certain micronutrients, including vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, zinc, and selenium. In that case, your immune function can become impaired, increasing the likelihood of getting sick.
When you eat a good variety from each core food group and preferably Organic – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, sea vegetables and legumes, seeds, nuts– you should be covered on the nutrient front.