8 foods to boost your immune system

It’s well-known that what you consume greatly influences your quality of life. And the absence of disease is one sign that you’re on the right track.

Although people will inevitably get sick due to various factors, it doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive with your health. Here are eight disease-fighting foods to incorporate into your diet:

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits contain nutrients such as fibre, flavonoids and vitamin C [1]. They lower the risk of damaging heart issues like inflammation and assist the gastrointestinal system. Because of their far-reaching benefits, consuming citrus helps combat diabetes, cancer and other neurological diseases. Citrus fruits also contain folate, which fights free radicals and boosts immunity. 

Some citrus fruits to try are:

  • Blood oranges
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Tangerines
Citrus fruits contain nutrients such as fibre, flavonoids and vitamin C [1].

Green tea

Green tea has been found to be an excellent defence source against cancer and heart disease. It also enables a more proportional and level source of caffeine than coffee and other sources of caffeine. 

Green tea is also far less dehydrating than other origins of caffeine. Warding off dehydration is an ideal way in itself to combat disease.

A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology analysed the effects of water, green tea and white tea consumption on stress levels in 18 students. The study revealed that green and white tea reduced stress levels [2], although more extensive studies are required to verify this possible health benefit.

Another benefit of green tea is that it may also have an anti-arthritic impact by subduing inflammation because it contains catechins, a potent antioxidant [3].

Green tea has been examined and discovered to be an excellent defence source for cancer and heart disease.
Photograph: Nikolay Osmachko/Pexels

Leafy greens

Greens bring a fantastic dose of nutrition, as they are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K and B-vitamins. These vitamins also manage diabetes, help battle cancer, prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of heart disease.

The green colouring in plants (called chlorophyll) supplements blood-cell production. It also improves circulation, oxygenation and detoxification. In addition, greens likewise contain lutein, a phytochemical that aids in lowering the risk of age-related macular deterioration and cataracts. 

Some leafy greens to add to your diet are:

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach
Greens bring a fantastic dose of nutrition, as they are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K and B-vitamins.
Photograph: Kindel Media/Pexels

Low-fat protein

Restricting the amount of fat you consume is necessary to lower your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels raise your chance of coronary artery disease and put you at risk for stroke and heart attack. 

Many types of meat have high-fat levels, and increased meat consumption is usually a primary reason for high cholesterol levels. To boost your protein levels healthily, consider including these types of protein:

  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lean ground meat
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry
  • Soy products

In particular, soy beans contain elevated isoflavones, a phytochemical. Phytochemicals are compounds that are naturally-occuring in plants.

Some research indicates that isoflavones in soy help reduce the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol in the blood [45]. A few studies have found that soy may prevent age-related memory loss. Soy isoflavones might even reduce bone loss, increase bone mineral density during menopause, and decrease menopausal symptoms [67].

Photograph: Makafood/Pexels

Low-sodium foods

A high-salt diet is harmful to your body. Too much sodium changes your biological equilibrium of blood pressure, blood volume and fluid balance. In addition, overconsumption of sodium leads to swelling of your lower extremities. 

Cutting down on how much sodium you consume supports reducing the odds that you will get heart disease and typically improves your chances of fighting illness.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

Your body needs these essenital fats to live. Fat provides your body with vitamins, minerals and vital energy. Furthermore, it enables your body to create the exterior of every cell. It also helps construct the surface of the nerves nearby the cells.

Without fat, you won’t be able to move your muscles, your blood won’t be able to clot and your body can’t reduce inflammation. All these functions are crucial for the prevention and management of disease.

Some samples of foods that carry these types of fats are:

  • Avocados
  • Canola oil
  • Margarine
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Seeds
  • Vegetable and nut oil

Root vegetables

Root vegetables are veggies that develop below ground. Some of them are not exactly roots but are more like bulbous growths. 

These vegetables are commonly low in calories and contain increased amounts of disease-fighting vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin A and calcium. Examples of root vegetables you can integrate into your diet are:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Celery root
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turmeric
  • Yams
  • Yuca
Photograph: Jess Loiterton/Pexels

Whole grains

Whole grains provide you with fibre and help you preserve stable blood pressure. They also assist by decreasing your chances of diabetes, heart disease and other heart-related problems, and help to nourish your body generally.

Other nutrients and health benefits provided by whole grains include:

  • B vitamins: vitamins like niacin, thiamine and riboflavin are all found in whole grains. They aid the body in transforming energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates. Moreover, B vitamins are vital for your nervous system to function at its fullest capacity.
  • Iron: the central role of iron is to enable oxygen to course through the blood. There are two kinds of iron; one comes from meat and is called heme-iron. On the other hand, the other type of iron is called non-heme iron. Whole grains and fortified whole grains have the latter and are one of the primary sources of non-heme iron.
  • Magnesium and selenium: magnesium aids in building bones and brings energy to the muscles. Selenium supports in preventing oxidation of your cells. Both of these minerals are paramount for your immune system.

Many have unrealistic anticipations about these foods, assuming they’ll be protected from health concerns and chronic illnesses. They may consume some of these nutrient-dense foods on a poor diet.

The key to nutritional eating is to select a variety of whole foods such as fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods. Concentrate on building a colourful and diverse plate of these whole foods. 

Overall, aim to blend various foods that nourish your body. Remember to focus on your diet as a whole. Incorporating an assortment is better than trying to eat lots of one type of food or vegetable, which is unlikely to help you in the quest to fight off disease.

[1] https://www.emedicinehealth.com/the_10_best_foods_to_fight_disease_what_are/article_em.htm
[2] https://jphysiolanthropol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1880-6805-33-20
[3] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245259#Nuts,-pulses,-and-grains
[4] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2014/02/12/straight-talk-about-soy/
[5] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9152.php
[6] http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/011012p46.shtml
[7] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155651.php

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.