Your immune system consists of a network of cells, tissues and organs that are designed to work together to protect your body against all the allergens, bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and other harmful organisms that want to attack your body.
Nutrition plays an essential part in boosting your immune function. The food you eat will go a long way towards strengthening or weakening your immune system. Certain foods are full of nutrients that can support your immune system and make it stronger than a rock. Let’s take a look…
Here are 6 best foods for immune system support:
1) Good quality protein
Did you know that the antibodies that helps your body fight disease are made of protein? Good quality protein is one of the important foods for immune system. It is the main component of your immune system.
Protein is broken down into amino acid which is the building block needed for the production of white blood cells. If you are not eating enough good quality protein it will have an impact on your white blood cell production.
It is important for you to have protein with each meal. This will help with blood sugar and insulin balance which is also important for a strong immune system.
Here are good quality protein you can incorporate into your diet
- Grass-fed organ meat (Offal) – liver, kidney, tongue, tripe, brain etc (preferably organic)
- Free range eggs (preferably organic)
- Grass-fed poultry (preferably organic)
- Fish, Shrimps (wild not farmed)
- Nuts and seeds (soak them preferably overnight and dry in the oven or dehydrator before eating)
- Beans or legumes (soak beans overnight and cook thoroughly before eating)
- Grass-fed clean lean meat, wild game (preferably organic)
2) Herbs & Spices
Herbs and spices are one of the essential foods for immune system. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties which can support your immune function.
There are too many good ones. To highlight a few:
- Garlic: contains allicin, an organosulphur compound which is an immune stimulating compound. A study carried out on the human blood found that garlic may indeed have immune enhancing properties and promote an anti-inflammatory environment helping to control inflammation (1).
- Turmeric: traditionally known for its anti-inflammatory effects contains curcumin, an orange-yellow component. A study found that curcumin has the ability to strengthen the immune system (2).
Some other herbs and spices include cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, cloves, licorice, thyme, cloves and basil.
Add herbs and spices to your meals; it will not only strengthen your immune system, it will improve your overall health.
Mushrooms are important foods for immune system. They contain a compound called beta-glucans which has powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antitumor properties.
Researchers found that mushrooms may support immune function by increasing the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells looking to protect and restore tissue (3).
Mushrooms are also bursting with fibre, vitamin C, protein, B vitamins and other minerals which are all important for strengthening your immune system.
4) Colorful vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are important foods for the immune system. They are rich in vitamins A, C, antioxidants, phytonutrients and other nutrients which are all important for supporting your immune system.
There are too many good ones. To highlight a few:
- Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, cauliflower and brussels sprouts help to support your liver and improve your liver’s potential to flush out toxins helping to provide an excellent environment for the immune cells that reside there.
- Blueberries are rich in phytochemicals such as anthocyanin, the pigment that gives blueberries their color. Anthocyanin helps to improve your immune function. Blueberries contain less sugar than many other fruits.
Studies have shown that vegetables have a larger protective effect than fruits (4) so your focus should be on consuming more vegetables and small amount of fruit.
Aim to eat five to seven portions of colorful vegetables and some fruit daily.
5) Fermented foods
Fermented foods such as Kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt (natural with no added sugar), pickles and olives are important foods for immune system. They are full of friendly beneficial bacteria which has a beneficial effect on your gut’s immune system, a major barrier against microorganisms that can cause disease.
Adding fermented foods to your diet will help to keep your gut and immune system healthy.
6) Good Quality Fats
Good quality fats are important foods for immune system. The type of fat you eat matters. Trans fats (found in margarine and many processed foods) are unhealthy fats that contribute to chronic inflammation which burdens your immune system and can result in damage to your cells and tissues.
Your immune system needs healthy natural fat to function properly.
To highlight a few:
- Fatty fish including wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acid which is anti-inflammatory helping to support your immune system.
- Coconut oil (extra virgin) contains lauric acid which converts to monolaurin in the human body; monolaurin has strong anti-viral properties.
Other healthy fats that you can incorporate into your diet include avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, grass-fed butter and free-range eggs (preferably organic).
It is also important for you to avoid sugar and processed foods, they are not healthy foods for immune system. This will also go a long way in making your immune system stronger than a rock.
1. Keiss HP, Dirsch VM, Hartung T, Haffner T, Trueman L, Auger J, Kahane R, Vollmar AM (2003) Garlic (Allium sativum L.) modulates cytokine expression in lipopolysaccharide-activated human blood thereby inhibiting NF-KappaB activity. The Journal of Nutrition, 133:2171-2175.
2. Jagetia GC, Aggarwal BB (2007) “Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin. Journal of Clinical Immunology, 27: 19-35.
3. ScienceDaily (2010) Researchers study benefits of white button mushrooms, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100729101609.htm.
4. Oyebode O, Gordon-Dseagu V, Walker A, Mindell J S (2014) Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-203500. [Epub ahead of print].