The foods you eat can help support your immune system and keep you healthy.
Janine Sofronte, a registered dietitian and health education supervisor at L.A. Care Health Plan .: “What we eat is really fundamental to our overall health, and this includes the immune system. Eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods can help your body fight disease.”
Of course, you will not be able to rely on these foods or nutrients as a miracle cure for the disease. But in addition to preventive behaviors, such as washing your hands often and getting a flu shot, these healthy foods may help reduce your risk of disease.
“While there is no single food or supplement that can directly prevent disease, you can support the immune system by including foods that contain nutrients that play a role in tissue health and integrity,” says Sofronte.
The following foods can help strengthen the immune system:
1. Citrus fruits:
Citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit are full of vitamin C, which is known to support immunity. Adult women should get 75 mg of vitamin C per day, while men should get 90 mg.
To support the immune system, vitamin C helps the body repair tissues and maintain healthy skin and blood vessels. It is also an important antioxidant, a substance that prevents cell degradation and improves immune function.
2. Green leafy vegetables:
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and cabbage are rich in Vitamin A, which is important for immune function. Men need 900 micrograms of vitamin A every day, while women need 700 micrograms.
According to a 2018 study, scientists know that vitamin A is important for the immune system, but they don’t understand exactly why. They believe the vitamin affects bone marrow production.
The bone marrow produces immune cells such as lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell that can help fight infection.
A 2019 study published in Nutrition Reviews found that leafy greens are also rich in nutritional nitrates, an organic compound with anti-inflammatory properties that can help regulate the immune system.
3. Red pepper:
Red pepper is especially good for immune health. A research paper published in April 2020 recommends paprika as part of a healthy quarantine diet due to its content of vitamins A and C.
So front says yogurt is a great source of protein, which can help maintain healthy bones and skin. She noted that “healthy tissue is the first barrier against infection,” when your skin is healthy, it prevents harmful bacteria or viruses, for example.
In addition to providing protein, most yogurts contain live bacteria, which are bacteria that improve the health of the gut microbiome.
A study published in 2015 concluded that the health of the gut microbiome affects immune function and contributes to a person’s ability to ward off infection.
5. Green tea:
“Green tea is very rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and antioxidants that help prevent cell damage. Generally, healthier cells will allow the body to have a better immune response,” says So front.
And a 2016 study published found that antioxidants in green tea can improve the response of T cells, which are the cells that attack viruses. Increased T cells are associated with improved immune response. A 2018 study also found that polyphenols help the body send a signal when an immune response is required.
Ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to a study published in 2013, ginger supports the immune system and may be effective in preventing cancer.
So front recommends using fresh ginger, saying: “Ginger is a more effective whole food source than supplements.” For this reason, using fresh ginger in cooking or tea is best.
The health benefits of garlic are rooted in allicin, a compound that is released when garlic is chopped or crushed. “Allicin and the antioxidants in garlic help fight infection and support the immune system,” says So front.
And a study published in 2018 found that garlic extract boosts the immune system in obese adults.
So front explains that the immune benefits of turmeric are related to curcumin, the ingredient that gives it its dark yellow color.
“It appears that curcumin has the ability to modulate the immune system by activating some immune-related cells and inhibiting the effect of certain pro-inflammatory compounds,” said the nutritionist.