“Let thy food be thy medicine”. In this oft-quoted message from the great philosopher Hippocrates lie some true pearls of wisdom.

What you eat has the power to influence your health, for better or for worse. 

Help your immune system keep you healthy by eating more of these 9 foods on a regular basis.

You can also add a natural supplement to your diet such as Utzy Naturals’ U-Mune to help boost your immune system along with eating the following foods. 

 

1. Citrus Fruit 

These tasty fruits are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects you from oxidative stress, or an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals.

Vitamin C also helps your body synthesize collagen, important for firm and healthy skin. This is necessary because your skin serves as a physical barrier against injury and infection. 

The most common foods in this category include oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. 

While vitamin C gets a lot of attention, citrus fruits also contain numerous polyphenols that have the ability to reduce inflammation.

In addition, citrus fruits are a rich source of soluble fiber, which can help with constipation, making your gut, and you, healthier.

 

2. Ginger & 3. Turmeric

Ginger and turmeric have been used by people all over the world for millennia to stay healthy.

Only recently have these powerful roots been studied to understand exactly why they may be so beneficial for the immune system.

Ginger and turmeric contain numerous bioactive compounds that help stimulate your immune system, as well as acting as antioxidants.

Ginger also has some antimicrobial functions.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy these super roots. Boil the fresh roots to make tea, juice them, blend them in a smoothie, or used the powdered versions in cooking.

 

4. Berries

These tiny nutritional powerhouses are brimming with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals give bright fruits their color and also give you important immune-boosting health benefits.

For example, grapes can increase levels of important immune cells in the blood.

Blueberries can improve the health of the colon by reducing levels of inflammation.

For best results, eat berries regularly. 

 

5. High-Quality Olive Oil

The hallmark of the Mediterranean diet, this powerful oil helps enhance your body’s immune system along with other health benefits.

Olive oil contains vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for adequate function of certain immune cells.

Vitamin E also helps prevent inappropriate immune system responses that can occur when fatty acids in the blood become peroxidized, a reaction blocked by vitamin E.

High-quality olive oil is also rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that provide other important health benefits. 

According to award-winning author and chef Samin Nosrat, high-quality olive oil is usually made from 100% California or Italian olives and has a production date on the label.

Olive oil is good for about 12-14 months from that date. 

 

6. Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, whole grains, beans and other and legumes, are good for your immune system because they help keep your gut healthy.  

Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is one of the most important parts of your immune system. It acts as a physical barrier to prevent pathogens from entering your bloodstream.

In order for your GI tract to do its job well, it requires an appropriately balanced microbiome.

To help keep those microbes in balance, it’s important to selectively feed the good ones.

Complex carbohydrates are an excellent source of prebiotics, specific types of fiber that the good bacteria in your gut enjoy.

Sources of prebiotics include oats, barley, bananas, onion, garlic, chickpeas, leeks, and lentils.

Read more about your gut microbiome in our other article, 5 Ways To Support Your Gut.

 

 7. Kale

This amazing green is packed with immune-boosting vitamin A and is rich in the fiber important for a balanced gut microbiome.

Vitamin A is key for maintaining the integrity of the cell membranes that keep out pathogens. These membranes are found in your eyes, skin and respiratory, GI, and genitourinary tracts.

Vitamin A also plays a role in the development and function of important immune cells.

Enjoy kale steamed, stir-fried, in smoothies, or raw in salads.

 

8. Fermented Foods 

Fermented foods have been consumed in nearly every culture around the world for thousands of years.

These foods are cultured with beneficial microbes, such as lactic acid bacteria that help preserve the food while improving the health of the humans that eat it.

Regular intake of foods fermented with lactic acid bacteria, like yogurt, can lead to improved gut microbiome balance, reduced risk of infection, and even improved tolerance of lactose.

 

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are an important source of omega 3 fatty acids (omega 3's), an essential fat lacking in the diet of many. If you follow a typical Western diet, you may be getting too many omega 6 fatty acids (omega 6's) and not enough omega 3's.

Increasing these healthy omega 3's and lowering omega 6's can help you stay healthy.

Dislike salmon? Other good choices include sardines, trout, tuna, oysters, and shrimp. Look for sustainably sourced and wild-caught fish, as these will have the best omega 3 profile. You can also take a high-quality omega 3 supplement.

 

Conclusion

These are only a few of the many foods that can have an incredible impact on our lives!

So the next time there is a cold going around, give your immune system a chance to fight back with a careful diet. 

 

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 Samantha Tinsley, MPH, RD 
Samantha Tinsley is a Registered Dietitian. She enjoys sharing practical information about how people can lead healthier lifestyles by making simple changes.
Check out more information on her website: https://www.budgetdietitian.com.