Fight those germs! Scoff at colds. Laugh at the flu. Or at the very least, make sure your immune system has got the best possible fuel to keep it as strong as it can be. It seems there’s a new virus or bug to worry about, every other week. But if you eat well, and eat the sorts of foods that build up the immune system, you can either avoid these nasties altogether, or at least get a milder version of them if they do appear.
So what are the foods that help the immune system? Believe it or not, your grandmother’s conviction that chicken soup was a helpful tool to fight off colds or recover from them is actually correct. According to some scientists, the chicken stock contains minerals and other elements in a form the body can absorb easily, things like calcium, magnesium, chondroitin sulfates, and glucosamine. So stock up on the stock, and make a big pot of chicken soup on a regular basis.
Fruit and vegetables are probably the biggest immune boosters you can eat. The rule of thumb tends to be that the darkest green or most brightly colored ones are best. So dark leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, or a dark vegetable like broccoli, combined with the bright colors of carrots or sweet potatoes, will stand you in good stead. The dark vegetables are full of cancer-fighting materials, while the colored ones contain lots of anti-oxidants. Try not to cook them too much either, because that removes some of the nutrients.
Among the fruits, some of the same things apply about bright colors, and berries are especially noted as great cancer-fighters as well as having other properties. Cranberries, for example, have long been acknowledged as an extra help against bladder infections and heart disease. Fresh fruit snacks can both help keep the immune system strong and respond to a sweet tooth. They need to be kept in balance with your vegetable consumption, though, so you don’t overdo it on the natural sugar. Sugar can, in fact, hinder the immune system from doing its job if you consume too much of it.
Whole grains are another helpful aid for the immune system. As well as providing fiber that protects the intestinal system against infections, they are full of vitamins and minerals. Whole grains would be things like brown rice, buckwheat, oats, barley, millet, quinoa, and so on. The less processed they are, the healthier they are. You might have them for breakfast, or try to substitute them for the paler things like potatoes, rice, or pasta.
And of course you can’t forget the protein. For vegetarians, you can find this in tofu, as well as beans and legumes, which also add extra fiber. For non-vegetarians, you could eat organ meats and lots of fish. Surprisingly, dairy products like milk and cheese don’t always provide protein efficiently, because so many people have difficulty digesting them. So be aware of that, and make sure your main sources of protein come from elsewhere.
There are other miscellaneous foods that you can intersperse into your diet as extra boosts to the immune system. Garlic is one that’s well known, as are things like almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. Selenium is very good for the immune system, and you can find it in Brazil nuts, cod, tuna, and halibut. Ginger and turmeric are great contributors to health, and shitake, oyster, and other Asian varieties of mushrooms really boost immunity.
Whether or not you decide to get a flu shot or take other health precautions during the year, you can still really help your immune system bulk up for the fight against the next wave of nasty bugs. Fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods have always been the real source of good health for human beings. Make those a regular part of your diet, and then dare those viruses to try to come near you!