We hear all the time about how good food is for the immune system. When you follow a healthy and balanced diet, you get the perfect balance of nutrients for your needs. What we don’t hear is just which foods are the best.
Many of us want to know how to boost our efforts at staying healthy and fighting off infections. We want to know the best types of foods that will help support everything little thing that our bodies do.
I’m here to share all the foods that you should eat to improve your immune system. At the same time, I’ll share just how they are so good for fighting off illnesses and diseases. Some are better than others at very specific types of ailments. Some of these are great for holding back illnesses, while others are perfect when you’re ill, and you need a pick-me-up.
Here’s a look at seven foods that you need to include in your diet to boost your immune system.
Pull Out the Chicken Soup When You’re Ill
There’s nothing like chicken soup when you’re under the weather. It doesn’t matter if you have a slight cold or whether you’ve suffered the stomach flu. It’s one of those powerhouses that has been shared from generation to generation.
There are a few reasons why this soup is so good. The first is the heat. Anything warm will start to make you feel good. When you’re curled up on the couch, shivering away despite it being 30C outside, all you want is something that will keep you warm from deep within. We reach for the likes of hot tea and soup.
Our bodies can relax and reduce the amount of cortisol released. This will instantly help to boost the immune system since the hormonal imbalance isn’t suppressing it.
At the same time, the heat will help to clear any congestion in the nasal passages. You can breathe in the steam, helping to thin the mucus, so you feel like you can breathe better.
On top of this, there are various health benefits to the chicken. Let’s start with the protein. Our bodies need protein to help the connective tissues repair. This includes the cells. The body can hold back ailments easier, meaning your immune system can simply get to work.
Meanwhile, there are some anti-inflammatory properties. While the heat helps to thin the mucus, the chicken also works on the inflammation within the nasal area and the rest of your body. This natural immune system response is lessened to help you feel more like yourself.
There’s no need to make your own chicken soup. Just condensed soup in the can or some chicken broth is good enough to get many of the immune system benefits. Studies have shown that it’s the process of cooking chicken, which even the store-bought options need to do, that helps to improve immunity. The cooking process releases an amino acid that is like acetylcysteine. This is a drug that treats bronchitis by clearing out the mucus in the tubes.
However, if you do make your own, remember to throw some onion and garlic in. We’ll get onto why they’re important next.
Boost Antiseptic and Immunity with Garlic and Onions
Any dish that you make when you’re ill should have plenty of onions and garlic in. Okay, so they’re not the best for your breath, but you don’t want to think about that right now. Your concentration should be on feeling better.
It’s the potency of the two ingredients that makes them so powerful. They offer healing properties, including antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal. These are ingredients that will boost the immune system for absolutely anything the world throws at it. You can fight off topical conditions, deep-seated issues, and common colds.
Many people will make their own garlic tea because it offers so many healing properties. The hot water in the tea offers many of the same benefits of the heat of soup – you get that relaxing feeling, while your immune system gets extra support.
Let’s not also forget about the benefit to the sinuses. When you’re dealing with a blocked nose or mucus at the back of your throat, consider more garlic and onion (mainly the garlic). It helps to unblock the area, thinning the mucus and reducing inflammation.
And garlic and onions aren’t just good for while you’re ill. They can also help to keep your immune system working to prevent illnesses. Studies have shown that garlic especially helps to protect against colon and stomach cancer. This is likely due to the healing properties that will help to protect the cells.
Now you see why you need to add the two ingredients to your chicken soup!
Add Ginger to Your Meals
Many Eastern medicines use ginger as one of the main ingredients. This isn’t because it tastes good – although that is certainly a benefit. It’s because the ingredient is a superfood when it comes to the immune system.
There are a few ways that ginger has proven to help fight off infections and heal ailments. One of the most commonly used ways is through ginger tea because it’s easier to sooth sore throats. Ginger has sesquiterpenes, which target viruses and help to kill them, so the immune system doesn’t have to do all the work.
The sesquiterpenes will work on both common cold viruses and flu viruses. Most the natural chemicals fight against the rotavirus and other common problems that cause people to be extremely sick. They help to settle the stomach, so you feel more like yourself sooner rather than later. You’re more likely to keep ginger tea down than anything else because of the natural elements.
Ginger is also full of anti-spasm properties. This is useful for those who need to cough a lot. There’s not just the ability to get rid of the reasons behind a cough but ease the muscles and suppress the symptoms during the healing process. Likewise, ginger will help to ease fevers and pain, offering some sedative properties to help keep you calm while your immune system gets to work.
One of the best ways to get ginger for curing ailments is through ginger tea. Even women suffering from morning sickness will find they benefit from this. You can make your own or get it in the form of tea bags. Either way, you will get all the properties in a heated form.
Just Drink Any Hot Tea
There’s no denying that heat is good for ailments. It’s the heat that helps to bring about the soothing nature. You’re more likely to relax, and that will help to keep the stress hormones at bay. You’ll end up feeling happier, and that gives your immune system a boost, naturally.
But that’s not all. Hot tea is a good way to boost your healing power. Whether you have black or green tea (green tea is better), you’ll get antioxidants called flavonoids.
Many people link antioxidants to fighting cancer. They certainly do help with that, but that’s not their only job. Antioxidants will help to support and strengthen the immune system. They make sure the immune system reacts when and how it needs to. Antioxidants are among the nutrients that your body can’t create alone, so you’ll need to intake and digest them to help.
Meanwhile, the liquid is just an excellent way to remain hydrated. There’s nothing worse than letting yourself get dehydrated while ill. You make your headache worse, and you’ll find the stress hormones are much higher than they need to be! The soothing tea is just much more beneficial than cold water.
Add Some Citrus Fruits to Your Diet
Your immune system needs vitamin C. Like some antioxidants, your body can’t create vitamin C. It also can’t store this vitamin for later use. So, that means you need to make sure you get as much of it as you can through your food every single day.
The great thing about vitamin C is that it’s one of the easiest vitamins to get. Anything citrusy or anything that’s yellow, red, or orange will have the vitamin in it. Most people think of oranges, but you can also get it from tomatoes, lemons, grapefruits, bell peppers, and so much more.
Did you know that you can also get vitamin C from some green vegetables? Those dark leafy greens are certain foods that you want to add.
But for now, let’s focus on the citrus fruits. They are going to be the easy way, and they also have acidic properties. Of course, the acid helps to fight off infections within the body, especially in the mouth or in topical treatments. Yes, there are some downsides, but when it comes to boosting the immune system, the downsides are worth the hassle.
You can eat citrus fruit raw if you’d like. You can also blend it into a smoothie, make it into juice, or add slices to your water. If you’re going to make juice, only have a glass of it a day. There are a lot of natural sugars in your citrus juice, and you lose the pulp, so don’t get the fiber to help with balancing out your blood sugar levels.
Try having a glass of lemon water on a morning. This is one of the best ways to get a little bit of citrus fruit and make sure you keep on top of your hydration. You’ll also find it helps to lower your morning blood sugar, which in turn helps your immune system!
Get More Honey When You’re Ill
Another food to add to your list when you’re shopping is honey. The yellow coloring should give the reason away: yes, it’s got vitamin C!
That’s not the only reason you need it, though. It has this healing benefit on the throat. When your throat is swollen and scratchy from the illness, you’ll find that honey will soothe it and help it feel better. There’s a lining effect that helps to make swallowing so much easier.
At the same time, honey is full of antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It will fight off all types of infections, including bacterial and viral.
You can add the honey to your tea. In fact, hot tea with some honey and lemon is one of the go-to natural remedies when you’re full of cold. It’s affordable to make and so beneficial in more ways than one. While you’re fighting off the reason for your cold or illness, you’ll soothe the symptoms at the same time.
Don’t give honey to children who aren’t 12 months old yet. There’s infantile botulism in the honey, which is a type of bacterial in honey spores. The child’s immune system isn’t developed enough to deal with this.
Meat Eaters Need More Lean Beef
If you’re a meat eater, look at the type of meat you’re eating when you’re sick. While chicken certainly has its benefits, you will also want to get some red meat into your diet. More specifically, you want beef – lean beef to help avoid the saturated fats as much as possible.
Beef gets a bad reputation, but when it comes to the immune system, it can be helpful. It’s full of zinc, a nutrient that is known for its healing properties. It’s harder to get this nutrient in other foods unless you stock up on plenty dark green vegetables. Beef has proven in studies to be highly effective in healing.
You see, zinc helps with white blood cell development. These are the immune system cells that will work their way through the body and fight off various ailments. The blood cells can tell the difference between all the different properties within the body, finding the bad guys and protecting the good guys. The more zinc you have, the more effective your white blood cells will be.
If you’re not a meat person, don’t worry about it! You can also get zinc from yogurt and fortified cereals. If it’s just beef that’s putting you off, look at pork, oysters, and chicken. They’re all good but not as good as beef! You’ll get about 30% of your recommended daily allowance of zinc from a portion of beef alone.
Add the Right Foods to Your Diet
The list of foods above isn’t exhaustive. In fact, the foods are ones that you will likely already have in your cupboard or are easy to find in the grocery store. Make sure you stock up on them, whether you’re currently ill or not. By eating plenty of each of them, you will find that illnesses are kept at bay. Your immune system will be able to fight off infections before you start showing any symptoms of them.
When you are ill, add these foods to your diet more. They are easy to cook and include – many of them can be used together. You’ll find that not only is your immune system helped, but your symptoms aren’t as bad while you are recovering. This can help to keep stress hormones to a minimum, so you don’t suppress your immune system accidentally.