If the coronavirus taught us anything over the past 18 months, it’s that having a resilient immune system is vital to our health and well-being. The most at-risk people are those of us with compromised immune systems from chronic ailments.
The odds of you getting seriously sick from any virus or bacteria increase markedly with age. While it’s possible to slow down the aging process (visit some of our previous blog posts for more information), we can’t stop ourselves from getting older. Our diet, lifestyle, and habits that contribute to a poor immune response are totally within our control.
Unfortunately, immunity is not a wall that we can fortify with a patch or a few extra bricks. Along with better sleep and moderate exercise, add these immune-boosting foods to your diet to support the barrier between you and any invaders.
Before you scream, “But what about my cholesterol!” get the facts on eggs and cholesterol. Eggs are heart-healthy and an excellent source of immune-boosting Vitamin A and iron. The cholesterol in eggs is the healthy kind, HDL, and actually makes LDL, bad cholesterol, less harmful.
Eggs are quite simply one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.
Garlic is a staple of traditional medicine for the treatment of colds, flu, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. It’s rich in allicin and sulfur compounds protecting your digestive tract. Gut health is the primary building block of a healthy immune system.
Adding garlic to your diet is easy and delicious. If you don’t enjoy the taste of garlic, it’s also widely available as a dietary supplement. Side effects of garlic are bad breath and warding off vampires.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. This spice gives every dish that orangish-yellow hue often found in curries and soups. Curcumin has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties known to lower the risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression, and pain.
People with a history of kidney stones or hemophilia should talk to their doctor before adding turmeric to their diet.
These wrinkly fruits are a nutritional powerhouse containing over 20 vitamins and nutrients. Avocados help fight heart disease and improve vision. Also, with their high levels of potassium, avocados support healthy blood pressure levels.
Avocados are great additions to salads, or you can eat them with a spoon. Instead of bananas, try using them as an immune-boosting thickener in your smoothies. They’re high in healthy fats and calories, so use them in moderation. Up to one avocado per day is ideal for maintaining a healthy appetite and weight.
Pomegranates help fight inflammation and bacterial infections with a combination of Vitamins C and E, folate, antioxidants, and flavonoids. This super-fruit also lowers blood pressure and improves cardio health.
Like avocados, pomegranates have many health benefits but should be consumed in moderation. Be wary of high-sugar juices containing pomegranates.
Popeye had it right with this leafy green. Spinach boosts immunity with loads of antioxidants, Vitamin A, and zinc. Packed with calcium, potassium, and iron, spinach also aids in cardiovascular health.
For the best possible results, eat your spinach raw or slightly wilted.
Not everyone is a fan of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha but can you stomach yogurt or buttermilk? These fermented foods promote digestive health and are rich in zinc, iron, and Vitamin C.
Studies show a strong link between the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract and immunity.
How many times has someone told you to take Vitamin C when you have a cold? Did you know that one medium-sized orange contains your recommended daily dose of Vitamin C? Any citrus fruit is an immune-boosting machine full of essential vitamins and minerals.
Once again, beware of fruit juices containing high amounts of sugar. The best way to get your three to four servings of citrus per day is to peel and eat them raw.
The most popular fruit of them all is the tomato. Talk about versatility! A substantial source of potassium, Vitamins C and K, and folate, tomatoes reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease while lowering blood pressure and protecting you from sunburn.
Not only are locally-grown tomatoes better tasting, but they’re also healthier because they had an extended time on the vine. Factory-farmed tomatoes found in your chain grocery store are picked rock-hard and green only to be made red by gassing them with ethylene in a warehouse.
Another fantastic source of Vitamins C and K, blueberries pump your immune system full of antioxidants. These little bursts of goodness help fight cancer and aging while enhancing brain function.
Eat a handful of blueberries as a snack to help fight hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
Salmon is one of our best sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, boosting brain function, lowering blood pressure, and fighting heart disease. This cold-water fish is also a potent anti-inflammatory.
Try to eat at least one to two servings of wild salmon per week. The healthiest salmon should appear orange or red. The light pink variety (Atlantic or Scottish salmon) comes from a farm that treats it with antibiotics and dyes the meat.
One of the highest valued foods for immunity is broccoli, and it makes for a great side dish with your grilled salmon. Packed with Vitamin C, calcium, and antioxidants, salmon has higher protein levels than most other vegetables. Eating a couple of cups of broccoli per week also reduces inflammation, lowers blood sugar, reduces cholesterol, and strengthens bones.
We saved the best for last. Yes, you can eat chocolate every day but not in the form of a Snickers, Kit Kat, or any other temptation on the rack at checkout.
Dark, not milk, chocolate contains immune-boosting flavonoids, magnesium, and zinc. The darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. Check the cacao percentage on the label and go for at least sixty. Fair warning, though, as the cacao level increases, so does the bitterness.
Eat your way to health
As we often like to say, “Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean kale smoothies with a shot of wheatgrass and spirulina.”
Improving your immune system is possible by simply adding a few ingredients to your diet and cutting back on some less-healthy options.
If you expect your immune system to fight, you need to give it the best weapons available by eating your way to health.
Take care, even down there.
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