11 Foods to Support Your Immune System
Add these foods to your diet during times of high stress. They can help keep your immune system functioning optimally so you can stay healthy and fight off illness.
There is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in the air and it’s more important than ever to support your body’s natural defense system by taking care of your body and mind.
Food is one of our most important defenses against both disease and anxiety. In times of uncertainty and fear, grounding foods can help you feel safe, calm, and connected. Anxiety and stress decrease the strength of our immune system, so it’s equally important to eat immunity-boosting foods during challenging times.
Keep in mind that food is just one piece of the puzzle of achieving and maintaining physical and energetic health, so make sure you are also supporting your body and mind with other healthy activities.
Arugula. One of my favorites, the leafy green herb arugula is full of vitamins and minerals that provide the body with a host of immune-supporting benefits. For example, the copper in arugula stimulates the creation of white blood cells, which help to fight off unwanted substances in the body. Arugula also contains a phytonutrient labeled Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), which has both antiviral and antibacterial properties that boost the immune system and may help prevent cancer. Arugula is also rich in vitamin C, which can to help fight colds and the flu and prevent infections.
Oregano. Known for its antibacterial properties, this herb is also antiparasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, and extremely immune-stimulating. Research suggests that oregano can help ward off bacterial infections (by killing bad bacteria) and fight off nasty bugs. This is one thing that everyone should have in their medicine cabinet. For best results, take immediately if you start to feel any symptoms of a cold coming on. One thing to note is moderation is key with oregano in the form of a concentrated oil extract, as consumed in high doses oregano can backfire. Add a couple of drops to your morning routine.
Basil. The antibacterial superfood basil originates from India and has been grown there for over 5,000 years. There are many different types of basil, ranging in origin and taste, but the nutritional values are the same. It is known in Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to calm inflammation and stress in the body. Basil has a rich antioxidant profile and is packed with vitamins, and the compounds in basil are naturally antimicrobial, which make this herb excellent for fighting disease-causing bacteria. Basil has been used to help treat colds, flus, bronchitis, diabetes, and asthma.
Mushrooms. Mushrooms have many medicinal benefits and can boost your immune system, as long as you don’t have any allergic or inflammatory response to them. Nutritional benefits of mushrooms include the ability to combat a multitude of diseases by providing important vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that strengthen the immune system. Varieties like shiitake, maitake, and reishi are particularly effective for staying healthy.
Garlic. Newer research confirms that garlic may enhance immune cell function, particular during the cold/flu season. Eating a raw clove will help fight many infections and cooking with garlic regularly has powerful benefits for your immune health. So generously adding garlic to meals not only increases flavor, but also boosts immunity.
Turmeric. The ingredient that gives turmeric its health-boosting reputation is called curcurmin. Curcurmin has been shown to reduce inflammation and to modulate the immune system. Increase the bioavailability of turmeric by combining it with black pepper.
Probiotics. Your digestion plays a crucial role in your overall immunity. Consuming probiotics helps keep the microbiome in your digestive tract balanced and healthy. You can find plant-based probiotics in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Prebiotics. Probiotics feed off of prebiotics, which are a form of fiber, so it’s important that you consume probiotics and prebiotics in tandem. Prebiotics can be naturally found in foods, such as bananas, apples, onions, garlic, nuts and seeds, legumes, Jerusalem artichokes, and leafy greens.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals (which are unstable molecules that damage the immune system). And although research has shown that vitamin C might not protect you from getting a cold, it just might help reduce the duration and severity of one. Choose vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, pomegranates, kale, spinach, broccoli, lemons, and strawberries.
Manuka honey. Manuka honey is an incredible and unique honey from New Zealand that has antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. There is an active ingredient in Manuka honey called methylglyoxal (MGO) that reduces nasal mucus so it is perfect if you have a stuffy nose or are suffering from allergies, congestion, or respiratory infections. This honey is also wonderful for soothing a sore throat. Take by the spoonful or as an addition to a cup of lemon water or tea.
Green tea. Green tea contains nutrients and powerful antioxidants that help regulate blood sugar, enhance metabolism, and even assist in better brain function. Polyphenols (plant antioxidants) give green tea its immune-boosting effects. Research has shown that a particular polyphenol in green tea called catechins may kill influenza viruses. Sip on green tea in the morning and add Manuka honey and lemon for a total immune-boosting powerhouse elixir.
Eating a diet full of plant-based foods and healthy herbs and spices can support your everyday health and overall wellbeing. Food can be made with love, and food heals. Preparing food can be meditative and intention-setting for your food, sending energy into that which you are going to receive is soothing for both the mind and body.
Ease into this process. Think of healthy plant foods as nature’s medicine. If you are feeling unwell or are in a scenario that makes you more susceptible to disease, amplify your intake of immune boosting foods. Be mindful, grounded and secure throughout this time and take care of your health as best you can.
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