It is so important to keep our immune system strong and healthy to help us fight off infections. The immune system consists of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body against infection and maintain overall health. You can help keep your immune system healthy by ensuring you are getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Here are 7 super foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals that may help boost your immune system.
1.) Citrus Fruits & Red Bell Peppers are high in Vitamin C, which is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are key to fighting infections.
2. Broccoli boosts the immune system due to its high amount of minerals and vitamins that prevent your body from damage. Besides the antioxidant called glutathione, broccoli is rich in vitamins C and A and is one of the healthiest vegetables you could put on your table.
3. Garlic is not just a spice. It can be a powerful remedy. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds. It fights skin infections and kills fungi, viruses and bacteria. However you need to consume raw garlic (not powdered forms) to really benefit from it.
4. Ginger is high in Gingerol, which is the main bioactive compound that is responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is also antibacterial so it helps support the immune system and fight of stomach nausea.
5. Sweet Potato Bet-carotene is found in both carrots and sweet potatoes. Beta-carotene transforms into vitamin A once your body digests the food. This vitamin restores cells that are damaged with free radicals.
6. Blueberries contain flavonoids which is a type of antioxidant that can help reduce damage to cells and boost your immune system.. In addition, blueberries are a great source of vitamins, including vitamin C and vitamin A.
7. Spinach contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants, such as carotenoids, Flavonoids, Vitamin E and Vitamin C that can help support the immune system.
We allknow that foods full of antioxidants are really good for us but do we know what antioxidants actually are and what they do for us? Here is everything you need to know about antioxidants and why they are so important.
Antioxidants are molecules that help fight off and even prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. In essence, antioxidants help clean up the waste products in our cells. Free radicals are compounds that are highly reactive, which means that they can attach and bind to, and ultimately damage, normal cells in the body. Free radicals arenaturally formed when you exercise and when your body converts food into energy. Your body can also be exposed to free radicals from a variety of environmental sources, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, radiation and sunlight. When these free radical become too high they can cause harm to your body by causing “oxidative stress,” a process that can trigger cell damage. Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in a variety of diseases including Cancer, Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and certain eye diseases.
This is where the importance of antioxidants comes in. Your body uses antioxidants to balance free radicals, which keeps them from causing damage to other cells. Antioxidants can even protect and reverse some of the damage already done and they also boost your immunity. Although our body has its own antioxidant defences to keep free radicals in check, we can also get antioxidants from the food we eat as well. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and carotenoids, such as beta-carotenes, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthinmay help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. There are other naturally occurring antioxidants such as flavonoids, tannins, phenols and lignans. Plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains. nuts, seeds, herbs and spices are the best sources of antioxidants.
Here are some examples of foods rich in antioxidants.
- Vitamin A is in milk, butter, eggs, and liver.
- Vitamin C is in most fruits and vegetables. Eat fruits such as berries, oranges, kiwis, cantaloupes, and papayas. Eat vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
- Vitamin E is in some nuts and seeds. For example, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and peanuts. You can find it in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. You also can find it in soybean, sunflower, corn, and canola oils.
- Beta-carotene is in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Eat fruits such as peaches, apricots, papayas, mangoes, and cantaloupes. Eat vegetables such as carrots, peas, broccoli, squash, and sweet potatoes. It also is in some leafy green vegetables such as beet greens, spinach, and kale.
- Lycopene is in pink and red fruits and vegetables. This includes pink grapefruits, watermelon, apricots, and tomatoes.
- Luteinis in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards, and kale. You also can find it in broccoli, corn, peas, papayas, and oranges.
- Seleniumis in pasta, bread, and grains, including corn, wheat, and rice. You can find it in animal products, like beef, fish, turkey, and chicken. You also can find it in nuts, legumes, eggs, and cheese.
Did you know that B Vitamins are crucial for maintaining a healthy body? This is because they have a direct impact on your brain function, energy levels and cell metabolism. B Vitamins also have a major effect on your mental clarity, focus and emotional balance and are fundamental in developing your nervous system.
There are eight B vitamins in total but the 2 most important are B12 which is imperative for the proper function of your brain and nervous system and Folate (B9) which is key in preventing brain fog, irritability, depression & emotional stress. Folate also helps you repair DNA and has significant anti-aging benefits.
Here is why we need all the B vitamins from B1 to B12 to ensure optimum lifelong health.
- B1 (thiamine) – Helps support the nervous system, muscle function & healthy digestion.
- B2 -Normal cell growth & Energy productionB3 – Heart Health
- B5 – Important for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats & is also imperative for breaking down fatty acids and keeping your skin healthy.
- B6 – Helps in the production of neurotransmitters and is important for immune system function in older individuals.
- B7 (Biotin) – Decrease insulin resistance, address high blood glucose levels, maintain healthy hair & nails and improves energy metabolism and glucose tolerance.
- B9 (Folate) – Essential for human growth & development (which is why it is important to get enough of it during pregnancy). It also encourages proper brain and normal nerve functioning.
- B12 – Aids in the production of RNA, DNA, and neurotransmitters.
The healthiest way to ensure that you’re getting all eight B vitamins is to eat a varied diet that includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and protein. You can also take vitamin B Supplements. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.