In this season of unrest due to the Coronavirus, I am getting inundated with requests to talk about methods to naturally boost the immune system. The foods we consume can play a pivotal role in how well our immune system functions. There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies [e.g. deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E] may alter immune responses.
Here are a few of my favorite foods that can help to boost your immune system:
â„ Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a personâs immune system. A 2016 study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tractâs immune defense system. Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not.
Key point: Blueberries donât have to be fresh for you to get this immune boosting benefit [frozen is fine]. I add blueberries to green smoothies, yogurt and breakfast bowl.
â„ Garlic is a common home remedy for the prevention of colds and other illness. It has been studied in pill form and the group of participants taking a placebo had more than 2x the number of colds between them than those taking the garlic supplements. However, researchers concluded that more insight is necessary to determine whether or not garlic can help to prevent colds.
How I use it: I donât take garlic supplementsâŠ I just add garlic to my food! I add it to grilled veggies and use it in most of my salad dressings and marinades.
â„ Sunflower seeds are a rich source of #vitaminE, a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E improves immune function. It does this by fighting off free radicals, which can damage cells.
How is use them: I add Sunflower seeds to salads, avocado toast and breakfast bowls.
â„ Egg yolks, free-range chicken, oily fish, and shiitake mushroomsâŠ These foods have high quantities of #vitaminD, a key nutrient that supports a healthy immune system. One study discovered that individuals with low vitamin D levels were more likely to report infections of the upper respiratory tract.
How I get more vitamin D from food: I consume more fatty fish such as herring, tuna and salmon.
Here are my top two picks of foods/beverages that will weaken your immune system:
đ Sugary and processed foods such as soda, candy, muffins and sugary coffee concoctions. Sugar is hard on the immune system. Iâve read some studies that suggest that after consuming processed sugar, [not sugar from whole foods such as an apple or an orange] the immune system can âdialed downâ for a few hours.
đ Alcohol. I know this is the last advice youâd like to hear right now, but many researchers do suggest that alcohol [the amount is unclear] can weaken the immune system.