Did you know that some foods can naturally boost your immune system and contribute to your health? In this article, learn how to incorporate the best immune-boosting foods into your diet – and why these foods in particular help protect your health.

Nature’s best disease fighters

Many foods you find at your local grocery store can help you stay healthy year-round. These 10 common foods are at the top of the list.

1. Mushrooms

Mushrooms contain selenium, the deficiency of which can lead to increased susceptibility to contracting a virus, according to a study published in the Nutrients Journal. The riboflavin and niacin contained in mushrooms are also important for a healthy immune system.

Fight colds and flu with these 10 immune-boosting recipes from a Texas registered dietitian

Try adding a handful of mushrooms to your pasta sauce, scrambled eggs, and omelettes, or putting them on a homemade pizza. Mushrooms are also delicious simply fried or roasted with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

2. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes and other orange foods like carrots, squash, and squash contain the antioxidant beta-carotene. This is a form of vitamin A that is important for keeping your skin strong and able to fight off bacteria and viruses.

“Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protects you from infections by supporting the immune system’s cells and barriers that keep the bad stuff out,” said Kara Lydon, nutritionist, certified intuitive eating consultant and author of the e-book Nourish Your Namaste: How nutrition and yoga can support digestion, immunity, energy and relaxation. “One sweet potato contains over 380% of the daily requirement of vitamin A.”

A woman sits on a couch and blows her nose

According to nutritionist Kara Lydon, research shows that deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, B, D, selenium, zinc, iron, copper and folic acid can increase susceptibility to disease. (Food Drink Life)

Try cutting sweet potatoes into strips and baking them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for a healthy homemade version of french fries.

Or, to save time, learn how to cook a sweet potato in the microwave, then simply top it with some butter and cinnamon for an easy side dish.

3. Almonds

Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, another antioxidant responsible for supporting the immune system. Grab a handful – 1/4 cup – to get 50% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin E.

4. Yogurt

Yogurt contains live and active cultures called probiotics. These can help stimulate the immune system and keep our gut and intestinal tract healthy and free of disease-causing bacteria.

Any yogurt with the Live and Active Cultures seal contains some beneficial insects. You can also see them in the ingredients list.

Dairy products such as yogurt are also usually good sources of vitamin D; A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of a cold or flu.

5. Leafy greens

Leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in a range of nutrients, including fiber, antioxidants and folic acid, which are particularly important for immune function, according to a study in the Journal of Immunology.

Both spinach and kale leaves taste great in a salad with another brighter, crisper green, such as: B. Romaine lettuce, for a varied texture. Spinach leaves also make an excellent substitute for less nutrient-dense iceberg lettuce on a sandwich.

You can also use spinach and kale in fruit smoothies – just be sure to only use the leaves of the kale, not the bitter stems.

If you’re more of a fan of savory, crunchy snacks, try the baked kale chips recipe – they’re easy to make and surprisingly delicious.

6. Tea

Green and black tea contain polyphenols and flavonoids, antioxidants that help fight disease. Additionally, an amino acid responsible for boosting the immune system, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea. Decaffeinated versions have it too.

Drink several unsweetened cups daily to reap the benefits. To get more antioxidants from your tea bags, move them back and forth while brewing.

7. Cabbage

This inexpensive winter vegetable is a source of glutamine that has been found in many studies, including one in Nutrients Journal, to boost the immune system. Try it in your winter soups and stews, or add grated raw cabbage to your wraps or salads to add a nice crunch without changing the flavor profile of the meal.

8. Garlic

In addition to warding off vampires, garlic also contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infections and bacteria with its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Minced garlic is great for sautéing with spinach and a drizzle of olive oil as a simple side dish, and minced garlic is also a delicious addition to homemade salsa. Tip: Buy pre-minced garlic to save time and mess.

9. Barley and oats

These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that has been shown to stimulate the immune system. According to a study published in Physiology & Behavior, beta-glucan may help strengthen the immune system and support resistance to invading pathogens.

Barley’s wonderfully chewy texture makes it a great addition to soups and salads, and oats make an easy and nutritious breakfast.

If you’re looking for a breakfast that’s ready for you as soon as you wake up, try overnight oats with almond milk – a few minutes of quick prep the night before ensures breakfast is ready the next morning.

10. Fish

Selenium, which is particularly abundant in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines – proteins that help clear flu viruses from the body.

In addition, salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation and increase air circulation, thereby protecting the lungs from colds and respiratory infections.

Mix canned salmon with half a mashed avocado, a spoonful of Dijon mustard, and a spoonful of mayonnaise to create a flavorful and nutrient-dense salmon salad that’s great as a wrap, on a sandwich, or simply with crackers.

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Takeaways

Boosting your immune system through the foods you eat is more accessible than you might think—and more important, too.

“Research shows that various nutrient deficiencies – vitamins A, C, E, B, D, selenium, zinc, iron, copper and folic acid – can increase your susceptibility to disease,” Lydon said. “In fact, malnutrition is the leading cause of immune deficiency worldwide. That’s why making sure you’re getting enough nutrition is critical to immune health.”

Next time you shop, stock up on these natural disease fighters – mushrooms, sweet potatoes, almonds, yogurt, leafy greens, green and black tea, cabbage, garlic, barley, oats and fish.

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