Your immune system is tasked with the role of protecting your body from infection. It’s composed of a complex network of cells, organs, and proteins that focus on recognizing and neutralizing harmful pathogens. Cold and flu season typically requires you to take extra steps for increased immunity and to support your overall health and well-being. Just like the warm winter coat you slip on before heading out into the cold, you must offer your immune system additional support to fight off illness.
One of the best ways to naturally boost immune health is with nutrition. Plant-based foods are rich in the nutrients needed to power your immune system, so it can perform its job. Incorporate these 8 immunity-boosting foods into your diet to strengthen your body’s defenses against cold and flu season.
Green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine shown to promote immune health. Green tea is also loaded with polyphenol compounds called EGCG, which have been shown to increase the number of regulatory T cells in the body. These special cells help your body distinguish between foreign invaders and normal cells, so it doesn’t attack its own healthy tissue. Drink about 3 to 5 cups per day to get the most health benefits from green tea.
Mushrooms have long since been lauded for their medicinal properties, including their immunity-boosting properties. They contain beta-glucan compounds that raise immune functioning by increasing the supply of macrophages, those special white blood cells that search for and destroy pathogens in the body. Five mushroom varieties with the most benefits for immune health include Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Maitakes, Reishi, and Shiitake.
Brightly-colored foods like berries are rich in beneficial antioxidants that minimize free radical damage and support a healthy immune system. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries also have high levels of Vitamin C, which is essential for immune cells like phagocytes and T-cells to perform their jobs.
Bell peppers, especially the red ones, have high levels of Vitamin C. This vitamin reduces your chances of getting the cold or flu virus, and helps you recover faster if you do. The Vitamin C in bell peppers also helps your body fight off infection by enhancing the production of antibodies and white blood cells.
Garlic contains allicin, special sulfur compounds that have medicinal properties. Allicin has been proven to boost the immune response of blood cells that fight off viruses associated with the common cold and flu.
Another food rich in Vitamin C, Brussels sprouts contain powerful antioxidants that limit cell damage throughout the body. They also contain Vitamins A and K as well as potassium, folate, and a healthy dose of fiber, making them an all-around choice for good health.
Turmeric consists of a compound called curcumin that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial benefits. Curcumin also plays a role in modulating the activation of various immune cells, including T cells, B cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells.
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Stay Ever Well,
Lynne + Renee