10 foods to help boost your immune system

Healthy eating boosts the immune system, making your body naturally better equipped for fighting off colds, flus and other such illnesses. It’s worth getting into a healthy eating habit now in preparation for the upcoming winter so you’re not floored right when you don’t want to be.

There are all kinds of tips out there for “eating healthy”, but regardless of your diet, there are a couple of specific, proven foods that you should eat regularly that will significantly boost the immune system.

1. Yoghurt

Yogurt is perhaps the best food of all for building a healthy immune system. Filled with probiotics as it is, a single small serving of yoghurt each day can have the same effect as taking probiotic pills, and can be a more natural way of getting the critical supplement into the system. Just make sure it’s natural yoghurt, and not sugar-laden processed yoghurt often found at the supermarket.

2. Oats and Barley

These grain foods contain a specific kind of fibre that has antimicrobial and antioxidant content that has a range of health benefits; It has been said that wounds heal quicker and antibiotics become more effective for humans who consume barley and oats.

3. Garlic

Garlic finds its way into a lot of traditional home remedies, and with good reason - people who consume garlic regularly have been proven to be two thirds less likely to catch a cold. Garlic also has the potential to help ward off cancer – people who consume six cloves of garlic a week are alleged to have a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer, and 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer, though these studies have yet to be verified.

4. Citrus

Vitamin C is very useful in fighting off infection, and the best source of Vitamin C is almost always citrus. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits and limes all contain an excess of Vitamin C. What is less well known about these fruits is that they also contain a fibre that helps to reduce cholesterol; a bonus with the boost to the immune system!

If you really can’t stand citrus fruits, there are other sources of Vitamin C that you can eat instead of taking a supplement. Kiwi fruit, broccoli, cabbage and parsley also all contain the vitamin in large amounts.

5. Ginger

This spice has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, meaning that it helps combat cellular damage and boost the immune system. It’s also particularly effective on the gut, helping to stimulate digestion, and therefore relieve bloating, cramping and nausea. Studies also show it to be as effective in relieving PMS pain in women as pharmaceutical agents.

6. Zinc-heavy foods

Zinc is another mineral that helps the immune system significantly. This is where you can get into the meats. Red meat, chicken, and fish all contain plenty of zinc.

For vegetarians there are other options. Eggs are also zinc-heavy, and if you’re a vegan, then legumes, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds also all contain Zinc.

7. Spirulina

An algae from the sea, spirulina is a superfood you might not have heard about but you should absolutely be eating. It’s anti-cancerous and rich in nutrients including iron and selenium, both of which act as anti-oxidants in the body. You only need around 5gm per day of this one – add it as a teaspoon of powder in smoothies or juice to consume easily.

8. Tomatoes

The humble tomato has been proven to reduce the risk of colds and flu. A study found that subjects on a tomato diet had white blood cells that experienced 38% less damage from free radicals (the atoms in the body that attack the immune system), than those that didn’t eat tomatoes. The pervading belief is that it’s the lycopene in the tomatoes that acts as an antioxidant, helping the white blood cells resist the damaging effects of the free radicals.

9. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins such as Anthocyanin, Vitamin C, B complex vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, selenium, zinc and iron. For such a small fruit, this berry is packed with all the nutrients needed to build an effective immune system and to assist in keeping you safe from harmful illnesses.

10. Shellfish and fish

Shellfish such as oysters, lobster, crabs and clams are all high in the nutrient selenium, which has been shown to help white blood cells produce cytokines. These cytokines are proteins that help to clear flu viruses out of the body. In addition, generally oily fishes such as salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, and these are known to reduce inflammation and increase airflow to protect lungs from colds and respiratory infections.