How to Boost Your Immune System: Best Foods, Vitamins and Minerals
Flu and cold season is well underway, which means that it is time to be extra vigilant about watching out for your health.
Washing your hands and steering clear of people who are constantly sneezing is a great approach, but eating the right foods, vitamins and minerals should also be part of your strategy to boost your immune system.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known immunity enhancing vitamins out there, which is why it is at the top of our list. Vitamin C helps your body recover from colds faster, often reducing the time you are sick by at least half a day.
Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, melons, and spinach.
2. Green Tea
Drinking a cup of hot green tea not only soothes an itchy throat, it also enhances your immunity. Studies of Japanese women who drink 2 to 4 cups of green tea daily were far less likely to suffer from serious illnesses such as pneumonia than their non-tea drinking counterparts.
Add a drizzle of honey to your tea for added soothing effect.
Commonly found in Greek and other natural forms of yogurt, probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your stomach and team up with antibodies in your immune system.
Regular consumption of probiotics keeps your intestinal tract clean and healthy. Probiotics are also known to help bring down fever and get rid of runny nose and cough.
Zinc is a trace mineral naturally found in the human body that is needed to support healthy growth. Zinc helps wounds heal faster and assists the body with creating and repairing cells damaged by illness.
Most animal products as well as plant-based foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, and cashews are high in zinc.
Found in many bread products as well as lean meats, garlic, and broccoli, selenium is a well-known antioxidant. Being an antioxidant, selenium plays a key role in ridding the body of harmful free radicals and other foreign organisms.
Additionally, selenium has anti-inflammatory properties which can soothe an infection. Too much selenium is bad, however, so if you take a supplement only do so in moderation.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Recent research suggests that in addition to assisting the neural and cardiovascular functioning, omega-3s play a role in the immune system, especially in the case of autoimmune disorders.
People with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus should ensure they get enough omega-3s from supplements or foods like cold water fish, nuts, and olive oil to reduce inflammation typically caused by autoimmune disorders.
7. Vitamin D
Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D. This deficiency is exacerbated during cold and flu season due to shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures. However, vitamin D can be found in most dairy products as well as in seafood.
Vitamin D can boost your immune system because it plays a key role in activating T cells, which are the cells that destroy other cells that are identified as harmful by antibodies.
8. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 plays many functions in the body, including helping regulate the immune system.
One important role of this nutrient is to prevent circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which allows the body to rest when it needs it most. Without adequate rest, the body isn’t able to heal itself.
Because vitamin B12 is derived exclusively from animal products, people like vegetarians and vegans need vitamin B12. Non-animal based supplements are readily available, including pills, patches, and B12 injections for sale online or at your local clinic.
Iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. It is a mineral that is needed to regulate the immune system as well as hemoglobin production, body temperature, and numerous other functions.
People with even a slight deficiency of iron are subject to frequent infections as well as chronic colds. Animal products, especially red meats, are high in iron, though other sources include fortified grains, spinach, beans, and tofu.
Being properly hydrated is crucial while you are fighting an illness. Water helps every system in the body function smoothly, and without enough water your immune system will not be nearly as effective.
Hydration also keeps mucous thin, which enables toxins to flow out of your body more smoothly.
Staying healthy during cold and flu season is not always easy, but by ensuring you are getting the right nutrition your chances of making it through the season without illness is greatly increased.
These are the foods, vitamins and minerals that have been found will do the most to boost your immune system, but if you have any other healthy-living favorites we’d love to hear from you!