Just when we thought we could see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, a mutant strain of coronavirus arrived. No one knows a lot about it, except that it seems to spread faster and easier. If you haven’t made it a priority to ramp up your immune system, there’s still time…
And one of the easiest and tastiest ways to do that is through foods and spices you can incorporate into your diet to eat every day.
Here are 12 that hold scientific credibility for better immune health:
#1 — Ginger
Love ginger with your Asian food?
Well, good news!
The root has been found to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so it could provide support for your immune system on two important levels.
As it scavenges free radicals that damage cells and leave you open to disease, it also goes to work to lower inflammation and shore up a naturally healthy immune response.
#2 — Yogurt
By now, you’ve probably heard of the term “gut microbiome.” If not, it’s the community of bacteria that live in your digestive system.
And when it’s at a healthy balance, so is your immune system.
Tip it to the bad and your immune system goes with it.
So, why not feed it the good bacteria it needs in the form of live cultures found in yogurt?
#3 — Almonds
Packed with vitamin E, the nutrients in almonds work to not only scavenge free radicals it actually works to modulate your immune system, allowing it to work hard but not so hard that it turns its attack on you.
Experts say that the vitamin functions to prevent lipid peroxidation and cell membrane damage, while also supporting the production of key proteins that directly affect the function of immune cells.
#4 — Citrus
Vitamin C powerhouses — citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges and lemons — pack an immune-system loving punch you just can’t deny.
Believed to help accelerate the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes that fight off infection, vitamin C is necessary for your immune health, making it the vitamin of choice for most of us whenever we come down with a cold or the flu.
#5 — Spinach
Another food with a healthy punch of vitamin C is spinach.
Yet, that vitamin isn’t the only thing the leafy green veggie has to offer.
Spinach is also loaded with antioxidants plus beta carotene, which increases immune cell numbers and activity, to help shore up your immune system so that it can fight off anything that comes around.
#6 — Chicken
Your body needs enough protein in your diet for optimal antibody production to fight off infection.
Chicken or even turkey is a great source of this protein, plus the meat provides high levels of vitamin B-6, which helps your body make healthy new red blood cells. These red blood cells don’t just carry oxygen through your bloodstream, but also work to modulate your immune response and even scavenge invading pathogens.
#7 — Oysters and shellfish
Delivering high levels of the zinc your body needs to produce immune cells, oysters and shellfish are a great option for seafood lovers to stay immune healthy.
Other sources of zinc include:
- Whole grains
#8 — Fish and cod liver oil
A rich source of vitamin D — the vitamin that’s really taken the spotlight during the pandemic — these foods play an important role in your immune function.
Low levels of the sunshine vitamin are linked to frequent infections, and including vitamin D in your diet is essential to keeping your immune system balanced to help fight off viruses.
#9 — Carrots
Low levels of micronutrients like vitamin A have been shown in studies to increase your infection risk.
Carrots are a great source of the vitamin or you can also get your vitamin A from liver, cantaloupe, squash or broccoli.
#10 — Flaxseed
Studies have shown that the soluble fiber found in foods like flaxseed and berries acts as an anti-inflammatory, helping to balance your immune function.
Even better, this type of fiber also helps to stimulate production of a protein known as interleukin-4 — which boosts your body’s infection-fighting T-cells… a win-win.
#11 — Turmeric
Last year, researchers from Germany and Indonesia published a review that summarized the known antiviral abilities of curcumin — the promising curcuminoid found in the spice, turmeric. They cited research showing that curcumin can inhibit the action of hepatitis and influenza viruses, as well as the Zika virus, the herpes simplex virus, the human papillomavirus (HPV) and even HIV.
The study concluded by noting that research is ongoing into how to make curcumin into an infection-fighting drug that will be well-absorbed by humans. But why wait when you can enjoy it in your favorite foods and drinks, like creamy and delicious golden milk.
#12 — Nigella Sativa (Black seed)
Nigella Sativa is a plant usually grown in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia that produces black seeds that have been used medicinally for centuries. Research just last year examines if its active ingredient, thymoquinone, an immune system modulator that also possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits for respiratory disorders, may decelerate the pandemic. The seeds and the oil (which has a golden color, despite the black seeds) can be used in cooking and found in supplement form.
Vitamin A — NIH
Health Benefits of Ginger — WebMD
Foods that fight inflammation — Harvard Health
Beta-Carotene — Kaiser Permanente
Vitamin D Helps the Immune System During Cold and Flu Season — Pharmacy Times
Feel Better—Fast! — AARP
Curcumin: From Spice to Potent Anti-Viral — Easy Health Options