With social distancing throwing a wrench in daily life, one of the biggest challenges we face is prioritizing health and wellness. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to maintain good health, and, alongside CDC recommendations, a strong immune system is an essential part of that effort. It’s your body’s defense against illness and infection, so keeping it strong is a good idea. The good news is that you can start strengthening your immunity from home by incorporating these foods into your diet.
Now, this may be one tip that you’re already familiar with. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and tangerines are chock full of vitamin C, which is needed for immune function and also linked to improving white blood cell production. However, our bodies don’t make it naturally, and we need to find it elsewhere. For men, the recommended daily amount is 90 milligrams (mg), and for women, the recommendation is 75 mg.
Brocolli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables are offering up a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, and E along with antioxidants and fiber. They also contain a phytonutrient that, as Dr. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM detailed on Nutrition Facts, “leads to the activation of our immune foot soldiers.”
Bell peppers are another great source of vitamin C, and their vitamin content increases as they ripen. Believe it or not, ounce for ounce red bell peppers contain more vitamin C than an orange. So, if citrus isn’t your favorite or your oranges are running low, look to sweet peppers for a vitamin C kick.
This kitchen staple not only packs serious flavor but also a wealth of health benefits. Garlic has long been used for blood and heart conditions like high cholesterol and heart disease, and it is also used by some for the prevention of several cancers. Studies also show that these cloves have immune-boosting properties due to a high concentration of allicin, a compound that can improve immune response.
Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant, shown to improve immune and antibody responses, and almonds have plenty. One ounce of almonds contains about half of the daily recommendation of vitamin E, not to mention the bonus of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats.
If you haven’t bean feeling well, eat some chickpeas, lentils and other legumes which carry a significant amount of zinc. If you’re not familiar with zinc, it’s essential for a healthy immune system and helps stimulate at least 100 different enzymes in the body. Beyond immunity benefits, zinc can shorten the duration of a cold, help maintain skin strength to prevent wounds and potentially reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, just to name a few.
Easily add this superfood to your morning cereal or grab a handful at snack time for an immune-boosting meal. Blueberries are extremely healthful with a high amount of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and a 2013 study showed that blueberries, along with red grapes, stood out from the pack when it comes to enhancing immune function. The compound pterostilbene, found in blueberries, works with vitamin D to raise expression of the CAMP gene, which contributes to immune function.
While it’s easy to become complacent at home, we challenge you to make even a small adjustment to benefit your immune health. Swap out a snack for blueberries or almonds, throw together a salad with kale and peppers or incorporate nutrient-packed legumes into your dinner. Your immune system will thank you for it, and so will you.