Your immune system is your body’s version of the military: sworn to defend against all who threaten it, both foreign and domestic. It has some really interesting soldiers that help make this possible.
Your immune system protects against disease, infection, and helps you recover after an injury. Although you can’t always control exposure, you can make dietary choices that give your disease-fighting cells some serious support.
Here are 5 interesting food that can boost your immune system.
- Nuts - Nuts are among the best sources of vitamin E, a fat soluble anti-oxidant involved in immune function. (1) Vitamin E has immunomodulatory effects which include stimulating the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, white blood cells involved in the innate immune response. The vitamin may reduce the risk of certain infections, including respiratory infections. (2) Furthermore, vitamin E deficiency may result in an impaired immune response. Ensure you are getting enough vitamin E in your diet by consuming nuts, including almonds and hazelnuts, and other vitamin E-rich foods regularly. (3)
- Oats - Whole oats contain beta-glucans, compounds that increase the activity of immune cells such as macrophages, natural killer cells, and neutrophils. Several animal studies show that beta-glucan enhances the immune system’s ability to ward off a wide range of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. (14)(30) However, clinical trials are needed to establish the effect of oat beta-glucans in humans. (4) To glean the most benefit from oats, consume them in their whole grain form, such as whole grain groats, thick oats, and steel-cut oats. The whole grain provides immune-supportive nutrients including selenium, zinc, and vitamin E. (5)
- Apples - Apple skins contain the flavonoid quercetin, a pigment that can help regulate the immune system and allergic reactions. Quercetin, also found in berries, grapes, broccoli, and tea, is known to decrease inflammation and demonstrates anti-allergic activity. (6) In a study that examined the food consumption of children living on the island of Crete, researchers found that children who ate apples, along with other fresh produce, as part of their core diet had greater protection against both allergies and asthma. (7)
- Chili peppers - Chili peppers provide an alkaloid known as capsaicin, which demonstrates anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. This compound may modulate immune function and prevent tumor development by reducing the secretion of certain signaling compounds, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and several interleukins. (8)
- Fatty fish - The star components of fatty fish—omega-3 fatty acids— have long been appreciated for lowering the risk of coronary disease, heart failure, and death from heart disease. (9) The specific omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) exert many of their health benefits thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. For example, EPA and DHA from oily fish have been found to reduce levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). (10) Wild salmon or smaller fish such as anchovies, herring, and sardines are high in omega-3s, while flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds provide certain plant-based omega-3s, which are converted to small amounts of EPA and DHA in the body. (9)
Foods may support immune function in various ways, including regulating inflammation, increasing resilience against infections, and by exhibiting anti-microbial and anti-cancer effects. To reap the most benefits, try to regularly incorporate a variety of the top immune boosting foods like the 5 listed above. Also getting chiropractic care, losing weight, having a proper nutrition, exercising and more.
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Dr. Rae and Dr. Vargas