Today, we’ll be continuing our discussion about immune-boosting foods! There are a variety of nutritious foods out there that are great for your health, including the immune system. They can be easily incorporated into your diet, and many of them are extremely versatile. If you are interested in learning about more foods that can strengthen your immune system, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.
Why You Should Strengthen Your Immune System
First, let’s recap a little bit about what the immune system actually is. The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight off infections and other diseases. Essentially, it protects the body from outside invaders, such as germs and bacteria. This large network contains white blood cells, proteins known as antibodies, and chemicals that work together with organs to keep you healthy. In order to stay healthy, your immune system needs nourishment and rest, just like the rest of your body. You can help keep your immune system working effectively by making small lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep and eating a proper diet. With that being said, there are a variety of foods and beverages that are great for strengthening the immune system!
This dark purple berry with the scientific name Sambucus nigra comes from the European elder tree. It is a popular ingredient in supplements, and for good reason– Elderberry has long been used to treat and prevent cold and flu. Although it began as an old folk remedy, research has since suggested that elderberry may positively affect the immune system and help fight against viruses. The most common use of elderberries is through supplements and syrups. It appears to be most helpful when taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms of a cold or flu.
This edible green plant from the cabbage family is known for its health benefits. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is rich in nutrients such as fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, and potassium. As we discussed in our last blog, vitamin C is a key nutrient for immune system health. Additionally, broccoli contains many antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage. Cruciferous vegetables contain a sulfur-rich compound called sulforaphane which has been linked to health benefits including improved digestion and heart health. UCLA researchers found that sulforaphane from broccoli reversed the decline in cellular immune function. Broccoli makes a great side dish and can even be into other dishes!
Tea has long been used in Eastern medicine and has been regarded as a key to good health. White, green, and black tea all provide polyphenols and flavonoids, which help fight disease. The antioxidants in tea fight free-radicals, which are unstable atoms that can damage cells and cause illness. There are many varieties of tea out there, and each has unique benefits. Both caffeinated and decaf tea work equally well! Check out our previous blog about teas and their benefits to learn more!
Sunflower seeds are harvested from the head of the sunflower plant. They are known for their high nutritional value, as they are rich in phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E. Phosphorus is a mineral that plays an important role in improving immune system health. Magnesium plays an indirect role in the immune system, having been found to play a role in how the immune system tackles pathogens and cancer cells. Vitamin B-6 is responsible for producing white blood cells and T cells, which help chemical reactions within the immune system. And finally, vitamin E is crucial to regulating and maintaining immune system function by helping it fight infections. Additionally, sunflower seeds have been shown to fight inflammation, improve heart health, and boost energy levels. When it comes to eating sunflower seeds, you can enjoy them raw, roasted, or incorporated into other dishes, such as salads.
Blueberries are harvested from flowering plants and have a variety of health benefits, including ways to strengthen your immune system. They are rich in vitamin C– In fact, one cup of blueberries contains approximately 24% of the recommended daily intake. Additionally, they contain a compound called anthocyanin, a flavonoid which not only gives the berries their dark blue or purple color, but also possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects. A 2016 study showed that flavonoids are essential to the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. Blueberries make a great and easy snack, and can also be incorporated into salads or blended into a nutritious smoothie.
Red Bell Pepper
If you’d rather avoid the sugars in fruit, red bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C. A half cup of raw red bell pepper provides approximately 159% of your daily vitamin C intake! Red bell peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for the immune system, vision, reproduction, and growth and development. They also contain beta-carotene, which is a pigment that gives these peppers their rich color. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A! The best way to preserve the nutritional value of red bell peppers is to stir-fry or roast them, rather than steaming or boiling. You may enjoy raw red bell peppers dipped in hummus, chopped into salads, added to an omelet, or stir-fried with other vegetables.
As you can see, there are a variety of foods that can help strengthen the immune system! It is important to note, however, that eating only one of these foods will not be enough to help your body fight off colds, flus, or infections. Eating immune-boosting foods works best in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle practices, such as getting adequate exercise and sleep. Additionally, receiving routine chiropractic adjustments can help remove any subluxations that may be interfering with the functioning of your immune system!
We hope you found this article informative, and we encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. It would be a pleasure to assist you. Here at Family Chiropractic & Massage, we offer chiropractic care as well as massage services and heat and cold therapy. We have doctors who have studied various chiropractic techniques to render care to patients with different types of conditions. As people vary, so do the techniques chosen to help each patient get well. We use evidence-based treatment methods to help patients get better faster. If you are suffering from any type of back pain, contact us today to set up an appointment so we can assess your needs and create an effective treatment plan. One of our experienced doctors would love to help get you on the right track to living a healthy, pain-free life! Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll check back for more articles about chiropractic care and all it has to offer!