Top 10 Immune-Boosting Food
By Yulli Agnes, MD, MBiomed (AAM)
The strength of one's immune system plays a large part in the body's overall resilience and adaptability. Your immune cells, barriers, and signaling molecules are all highly dependent on good nutrition. Therefore, incorporating foods that support and strengthen the immune system on a regular basis is key to vital health.
Whether you are feeling under the weather, you've already caught that bug going around or you just want to avoid it, here is the top 10 immune-boosting food you can add to your diet, although the list is certainly not exhaustive.
1) Fermented Foods.
Such as sauerkraut, kimchee, miso, tempeh, natto, pickles, kefir, yogurt and kombucha. They support the health of the microbiome by introducing healthy bacteria to the digestive system. Good bacteria have an extremely beneficial effect on your gut's immune system, your first line of defense against pathogens, and these foods also aid in the production of antibodies.
2) Coconut & Coconut Oil.
Cococonut oil is rich in lauric acid, which has been shown to enhance immunity, improve heart and thyroid health, and has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral qualities.
When selecting coconuts and coconut oil products, make sure you choose organic versions that are unrefined, unbleached, made without heat processing or chemicals, and are non-GMO.
Mushrooms strengthen your immune system because they are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and other minerals.
Mushrooms also contain powerful compounds called beta-glucans, which are well-known for their immune-enhancing properties. The beta-glucans in medicinal mushrooms (especially reishi, shiitake, and maitake versions) are particularly notable for their ability to activate and modulate your immune system cells. Beta-glucan also enhances immunity through a variety of other mechanisms, many of which are similar to those of the popular immune-boosting herbs echinacea and astragalus root. For example, beta-glucans bind to macrophages and other scavenger white blood cells of your immune system, thus activating their anti-infection activities.
It is a single-cell freshwater algae that acts as an extremely efficient detoxification agent by binding to toxins, such as mercury and other heavy metals and infectious agents, and then carries those out of your system. The chlorophyll in chlorella also helps you process more oxygen, cleanses your blood, and promotes growth and repair of your tissues.
5) Raw milk
Unpasteurized, grass-fed organic raw milk contains a host of beneficial bacteria that prime your immune system. It is an outstanding source of vitamins, especially vitamin A, zinc, and enzymes. Raw milk also contains beneficial fats that will help your immune system.
Even if you don't have access to raw milk, you can use a high-quality whey protein that comes from grass-fed cows to receive much of the same health benefits. Whey protein can help you fight off colds and flu because it contains beta-glucans and immunoglobulins, which protect your immune system and support your body's natural detoxification processes.
6) Raw Organic Eggs from Free-Range Chickens
Raw eggs are an inexpensive and amazing source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat. As long as you have a good source for fresh, organic raw eggs, you need not worry about salmonella.
7) Blueberries and Raspberries
Blueberries and raspberries rate very high in antioxidant capacity compared to other fruits and vegetables. They are potent immune boosters and lower in sugar than many other fruits.
8) Locally Grown Organic Vegetables
When it comes to fighting off pathogens, you simply can't do any better than eating a variety of fresh, organic and preferably raw vegetables for the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes they contain. Make sure the veggies you choose are fresh. The nutrient value drops to practically zero once a fruit or vegetable is canned.
9) Grass-Fed Beef or Organ Meats
Grass-fed beef and organ meats (liver, kidney, heart, etc.) is very high in vitamins A and E, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, zinc, and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid) all of which provide your immune system with tons of concentrated support.
10) Herbs and Spices
One wonderful thing about plants (and herbs especially) is that they don't all stimulate your immune system—some modulate it, or act as a buffer.
Some of the best herbs and spices for building a strong immune system include garlic, turmeric, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon and clove.