It’s a jungle out there. With all the germs floating around in the world, it’s more important than ever to keep a strong immune system that can fight off the bad ones before they have a chance to do any damage. And what better way to do that than with lots of healthy foods? We’ve got ten healthy foods that you’ll want to keep stocked up on to help give you and your immune system the best chance at fighting—and winning—the battle against germs.
Start Your Day Off Right with a Breakfast Smoothie
We know, we know. You’ve heard it a million times before. That’s because it’s true: smoothies are a great way to start the day and fuel up. Smoothies are great because they pack whole fruit’s nutrition but are blended into a delicious, nutrient-rich drink. This Berry Berry Smoothie is packed with good things for your immune system: berries, spinach, Greek yogurt, and flaxseed oil. The flaxseed oil provides omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation and boost the immune system. And you can use frozen berries that you have on hand in the winter!
Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which help to reduce inflammation and keep your cholesterol levels in check. Besides lowering cholesterol, they’ve also been shown to lower blood pressure, which is important because some studies suggest that cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of the immune deficiency. In addition, studies have shown that avocado’s oleic acid helps ease the feeling of pain and acts as an anti-bacterial and antifungal. Sliced up and served on top of a salad, it’ll give you an added boost to your immune system.
A delicious source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein, canned salmon, is a great way to get some nutrients and lean protein in one sitting.
Canned salmon is also easy to prepare, versatile and affordable. You can cut the fish into cubes or slices and add it to salads, wraps, or sushi rolls, or add some salmon to your eggs for breakfast. Pair it with fresh vegetables, beans, avocado, and whole grains, and you’re good to go. Canned salmon is more affordable than fresh, so you’ll help your wallet, too.
Citrus fruits are great because they contain compounds that can help kill bacteria and work to help balance your body’s pH levels. Research has shown that compounds in citrus fruits can be as effective as a mouthwash to prevent gingivitis. Eating citrus fruits is also a good way to get enough vitamin C, which helps support your immune system
Sweet potatoes are a great food for your immune system, especially when fighting colds and flu. A study found that higher intakes of beta-carotene and vitamin C led to better immune system health, and sweet potatoes are full of these nutrients. Plus, they’re delicious when paired with just about any savory sauce—and you can’t beat the fact that they’re available year-round!
Bananas get a bad rap, but they are a great source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and B6. The combination of these nutrients helps the body maintain a strong immune system. For example, one study shows that people who eat more bananas tend to have stronger antibodies against flu viruses.
Bananas aren’t just good for staving off the common cold; they are also helpful in preventing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They are rich in pectin fiber (which keeps your digestive system healthy) and contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps balance your mood.
Beans are Good for Your Immune System
Beans like mung and adzuki beans can help strengthen your digestive system. They contain a ton of fiber and protein, but they have large amounts of turmerone, an amino acid precursor to corticosteroids, which help suppress inflammation throughout the body. Red lentils are particularly beneficial to the heart and brain, with some studies showing that just three servings per week can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and lycopene, which can help prevent damage done to cells during infection. Tomato paste, and even cooked tomatoes, have a positive impact on the immune system.
Research published in the Alternative Medicine Review suggests that regular consumption of tomato-based products can help ward off upper respiratory infections, especially when taken with citrus fruits like oranges. In addition, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed tomato products, such as salsa and ketchup, were less likely to develop asthma compared to people who didn’t consume these products.
Garlic is one of those foods that has been around for centuries, and for a good reason. It tastes great and adds tons of flavor to any dish; it also has some serious health benefits. Garlic contains allicin; a compound thought to have several potential benefits. Allicin has been shown to have antibiotic properties, which can help fight off many different types of bacteria known to cause sickness and infections. In addition to helping ward off illness, garlic is also known to lower blood cholesterol (which helps decrease the risk of heart disease) and blood pressure. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, those who regularly consume garlic have lower cholesterol levels than people who do not.
And here’s another tip: Make sure to store your garlic in a cool, dark place, far away from direct heat (the refrigerator is ideal). If you keep it in a complimentary place, like an onion bag or a fresh-vegetable drawer, it will last for weeks—not days—and won’t give off the potent odor that can sometimes hit your nostrils when you open the cabinet.
Dark Leafy Greens
According to health experts at tailwindnutrition.com, a strong immune system depends on a healthy gut. And one of the best ways to support your gut microbiome is by eating plenty of dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards, and arugula. These greens are loaded with antioxidants called carotenoids, powerful chemicals that help protect the cells within your gut from toxic substances. Antioxidants are also necessary for supporting your immune system by helping it fight off bacteria and yeast that can be harmful to the body.
These foods aren’t just great for your immune system; they’re also delicious and nutritious. So go ahead and use these foods as your guide to creating some tasty dishes that will keep your immune system running strong.