Seven Foods to Eat for a Stronger Immune System
A strong immune system can help you stay healthy by fighting off bacteria and viruses. Researchers have explored the effects of diet, exercise, age, stress, and other factors that influence and impact the body's immune response. Depending on your genetics, a lifestyle in which you are able to maintain a healthy weight, eat a well-balanced diet filled with nutritious whole food ingredients including fruits and vegetables, and limit smoking and your total consumption of alcohol can positively influence your overall health, allowing your body's systems to function efficiently. The goal is to stay healthy and stronger for as long as possible. Here are seven foods to add to your diet that are both nutritious and delicious.
As long as it contains live and active cultures, reach for a cup of yogurt: the probiotics found in yogurt, kefir, skyr, and other fermented food products have been shown to enhance the immune response.
Tahini, a key ingredient in hummus, is made from ground sesame seeds and is loaded with zinc, a vital role player for your immune system that might help shorten the duration and severity of symptoms of a cold. Enjoy hummus toast topped with bell pepper strips, rich in vitamin C, for an extra immune boost.
Sweet potatoes are extremely rich in vitamin A, a nutrient that plays a role in the development of connective tissue. That connective tissue-that is, your skin-is the first line of defense against invading pathogens.
According to researchers, tea contains a compound that primes the body's immune response against infection. And in one study, the immune system blood cells of tea-drinkers responded five times faster to germs than those of coffee drinkers. Choose black or green tea for the most benefit.
They're not part of the rainbow, but make sure to add some white- and brown-hued mushrooms to your grocery haul: mushrooms have been shown to increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making for a healthy and humming immune system. Scatter them over a pizza, chop some up for your daily salad, hide them in burgers or meatballs, or make them the centerpiece of dinner.
Oats are rich in a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Several studies have found that the fiber, also found in mushrooms and barley, may increase the body's immune response specifically to upper respiratory infections.
Oysters are an excellent source of selenium, a micronutrient that helps the body produce cytokines (proteins that help the body fend off viruses). If you don't like oysters, shellfish such as lobster, crabs, and clams are also rich in selenium.