If you’re prone to getting sick, there might be something wrong with your body’s defense system.

With the emergence of COVID-19, we’ve all been forced to pay more attention to our health, and, not surprisingly, among the most popular topics has been the immune system. Namely, how it works and whether we can improve it to ward off contagions. 

In the absence of a vaccine, taking proactive steps to preserve your health should be a top priority. As such, for this post, we wanted to talk about foods that may help strengthen your immune system.

But before diving into that conversation, we wanted to start by talking about the function of your body’s defense system.

What is the immune system and why is it so important to health?

The immune system is a set of organs, cells and tissues that are charged with defending our bodies from viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other things that might make us sick.

When it works properly, the immune system can combat infectious diseases, decrease the intensity of an illness, and help our bodies recover faster.

In contrast, when the immune system is weakened, people tend to sick more frequently. And, when they do get sick, it may take them longer to recover.

Ways to keep your immune system strong

The best way to keep your immune system in tip-top shape is to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, we know that sounds trite, but it has been proven that this is the key to living a longer, healthier life.

Studies have shown that if we want to be in a good health, we must be proactive in improving our habits. It’s not always the easiest process, but it’s a great way to take care of our bodies in a natural and effective way.

What does it mean to adopt a healthier lifestyle? It means eating a balanced diet, consuming nutritious foods, staying hydrated (ie: drinking enough water) and getting enough exercise.  It also involves getting sufficient rest and reducing your day-to-day stress.

Living a healthy lifestyle also means avoiding (or limiting) alcohol and cigarettes, and not overconsuming things such as sugar, salt, processed foods, fast food and fried foods.

Foods that improve the immune system

Like we said– food is an essential part of maintaining your health. And now, we wanted to talk about the types of foods that can help strengthen your immune system.

Pay close attention and try to include them in your food prep!

  • Citrus: Citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, kiwis, lemons, and grapefruits, are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a fantastic immune system booster.

Note: the human body does not produce Vitamin C, so it is important get your recommended daily intake through  food and/or supplements. Although citrus is believed to be the main source of Vitamin C, papaya and red peppers also contain large amounts of it.

  • Vegetables: Vegetables such as onion, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli are rich in antioxidants. When you prepare these vegetables, try to cook them as little as possible (so they don’t lose their nutritional properties.)
  • Carrots and pumpkins: Carrots and pumpkin are a great source of Vitamin A, potassium, and phosphorus.
  • Meats: Lean cuts of meat are rich in protein, zinc, and Vitamin B12.
  • Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and peanuts contain Vitamin E and Zinc.
  • Fish: Fresh fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, and cod are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to boost the immune system.
  • Eggs: Eggs are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Even the yolk contains small amounts of Vitamin D– which is not frequently found in food.

Vitamin D deficiency affects the immune system and is associated with respiratory diseases. Where can you get it? It can be found in fortified foods and supplements. You can also boost your Vitamin D levels by spending time outside in the sun.

  • Garlic: Garlic is not only it is great for blood pressure, it also has an antibiotic and antiviral effect that helps immune system.

Note: If you can’t stand the taste of raw garlic, you can consume it in capsules.

  • Low-fat dairy: Low-fat dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt are rich in calcium and protein.
  • Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are high in selenium, a mineral that works as an antioxidant and has been associated with prevention of infections.
  • Whole grains: Whole grains provide vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
  • Legumes: Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas are a good source of iron, zinc and Vitamin B6.
  • Natural yogurt: Yogurt contains probiotics (aka- bacteria that have positive effects on your body).

As you can see, consuming lots of fruits and vegetables is the cornerstone of a healthy diet.

If you wonder how many servings of fruits and vegetables you should get each day, our best answer is “it depends.”  Your recommended serving levels can vary based on your age, gender, and overall health. 

However, as a general rule of thumb, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests eating  5 servings per day  (although a study by University College of London suggests consuming 10 servings per day is better.)

It is very important to consider that each person has a different immune system and that their immune system can be impacted by various hereditary and/or external factors. Therefore, before buying supplements (or radically changing your diet), the team at EFOODTRAINER recommends you consult with your doctor.

Did you like this article? If so, you may be interested in checking out the following posts:

  • How to clean fruits and vegetables correctly
  • 3 common illnesses caused by food
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