Are you wondering how to strengthen your immunity during the coronavirus pandemic? Experts around the world agree; one of the best ways to boost your immune system and prepare your body to fight off any virus is to maintain good nutrition. Why? Our bodies need the right nutrients to do their job.
Although pills and supplements might be effective in fighting off unwanted illness, they may not be necessary if you know how to keep your immune system strong through proper nutrition.
Next time you head to the grocery store, consider buying these vegetables, fruits and other healthy foods that are known to contain immune-boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
1. Citrus Fruits
Instead of stocking up on Emergen-C packets, why not go for the real thing? Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit are a great source of vitamin C. The brightly colored fruit also has a variety of phytonutrients, which are the natural chemicals found in plant foods. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats.
More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods, one of which, hesperidin, has been shown to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. When you when you eat or drink phytonutrients, they may also help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.
Mushrooms are a true superfood. There are approximately 400 species of mushroom fungi that have been identified with medicinal properties, and many have antiviral, antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory qualities.
Mushrooms have B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, which keep your immune system healthy, but they also contain selenium. Selenium is an essential nutrient that our bodies don’t make, therefore we need to get through food. It plays a critical role in metabolism and thyroid function and helps protect your body from damage caused by oxidative stress. Research shows that individuals with low levels of selenium have a reduced ability to respond to viral infections.
Mushrooms exposed to UV rays also contain Vitamin D which regulates the production of a protein that effectively kills infectious agents, including bacteria and viruses.
Fermented foods are created when the carbohydrates or starch in whole foods are broken down and changed by microorganisms into smaller, more digestible components. Miso, olives, pickles sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt are some of the more popular choices
You can add fermented foods to your regular diet to help keep your immune system strong. Research shows these fermented foods actually increase the good bacteria in your gut and, in turn, boost the action of the immune system and help defend you from viral infections. They also aid in digestion, increase your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and can even help curb sugar cravings.
4. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard are packed with fiber, vitamin K and vitamin A. Not only are they packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber but they are also low in calories. Eating a diet rich in leafy greens can offer numerous health benefits including reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and mental decline.
They’re great sautéed, as the base of salads or even added to your favorite fruit smoothies. However, to get the most nutrients out of your leafy greens, it’s best to eat them raw, or cooked as little as possible. To get the full benefits, eat at least five servings of vegetables daily, including greens.
When you think vitamin C, you probably think citrus, but did you know that red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus, and they’re also a good source for beta carotene? The human body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, which we need for healthy skin, our immune system, and good eye health and vision.
Bell peppers are low in calories, but also add flavor to your favorite recipes. All varieties are nutritious and contain loads of vitamin C, plus potassium and vitamin A. However, WebMD says Red peppers pack the most nutrition, because they’ve been on the vine longest.
Broccoli is packed with vitamins A,C, and E, iron, potassium as well as minerals, and tons of antioxidants. You can enjoy this green veggie both raw and cooked, but research shows that gentle steaming provides the most health benefits.
Raw broccoli contains almost 90% water, 7% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and almost no fat. The carbs it does contain mainly consist of fiber and sugars and with only 31 calories per cup, broccoli is a very low-calorie food. It’s also a decent source of fiber and higher in protein than most other vegetables.
Throughout history garlic has been used around the world for medicinal purposes. In the past, garlic has been used as a remedy during various epidemics such as typhus, dysentery, cholera and influenza. More recently there has been even more scientific research into garlic, and studies have shown good results in garlic helping to heal many diseases.
Garlic is also known to contain high in immune-boosting compounds, such as manganese to vitamin B6 and C, as well as selenium and fiber. The herb is also a potent anti-viral, anti-fungal agent, and eating it raw, or as an uncooked puree alongside your normal food will wipe-out most miscreants. One study, that saw participants eat garlic or a placebo, saw 63% of those who ate garlic recover faster and less likely to get a recurrent cold.
Who doesn’t love strawberries? In addition to being rich in vitamin C, potassium and manganese they also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. They also contain small amounts of several other vitamins and minerals, such as iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B6, K, and E.
Another health benefit? They also have fiber, which can help keep you regular. One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of strawberries provides 2 grams of fiber. Dietary fibers are important to feed the friendly bacteria in your gut and improve digestive health. They are also useful for weight loss and can help prevent many diseases.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide a number of health benefits and are easy to add to your diet. This highly nutritious vegetable is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Similar to bell peppers, they contain beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A in your body and helps boost your immune system.
Some people think sweet potatoes and yams are the same thing. However, they are actually not related. Yams have a drier texture and are starchier than sweet potatoes. Another misconception is that sweet potatoes are actually potatoes, but the truth is, they are not. They are naturally sweet roots in the morning glory family and can come in several different colors and sizes.
Mangoes are loaded with vitamin C and are a good source of vitamins A, B6 and K. In addition to being a favorite fruit around the world, mangoes pack a host of health benefits too! They are known to aid in digestion, promote a healthy gut and even boost immunity!
You might be surprised to learn that one average sized mango contains up to two-thirds of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant helps boost immunity system and prevents colds and the flu. Keep in mind that mangos do contain more sugar than many other fruits, so moderation is key. It’s best to limit eating mango to no more than two cups (330 grams) per day, at most.
The Right Nutrition Helps You Fight Disease and Feel Great
Of course, these are just some of the foods you can add to your diet to help boost your immune system. However, the great thing about these 10 suggestions is they are all super easy to add to your daily diet. Many of these foods can be added to your morning smoothie, thrown into a soup or salad, simply steamed or eaten raw.
Another expert tip: reduce or eliminate unhealthy, processed foods from your diet. This includes common foods that are packed with added sugars, like cookies and soft drinks. Too much processed food can suppress your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to germs.