Let's face it, having a healthy and properly functioning immune system isn't only beneficial to fight disease, but also allows you to carry on training/working/moving as normal. Your immune system is a hugely complex system within your body. Much so, that scientists are still performing controlled tests to understand it in more detail.
My immune system was terrible as a child. But then again, so was my diet. As a kid, I would get the common cold every other week (and I'm not even joking) and it would hit me like a tonne of bricks. Since I changed my diet and started exercising regularly, I probably get the common cold twice a year now. So I can see the changes firsthand, and how not exercising and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can negatively impact your body.
From results that have been gathered of immunity tests, There has been a correlation between specific lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, smoking, sleep and stress. These factors have been said to affect the immune system indirectly, where alcohol intake was also deemed as a factor.
In this article we will look at foods that are linked with improved immunity. However, it's important to remember that; like your cardiovascular system, respiratory system, etc. you need to apply changes to all areas of your life (exercise, sleep, work) for the system to work and function optimally.
#1 - Citrus fruits: Oranges / Lemons / Grapefruit / Tangerine / Lime
Okay, you probably knew this was coming so we will get it out the way with first. Citrus fruits are the best and most substantial source of vitamin C.
Vitamin C has been linked with supporting the immune system for decades and has been tested multiple times over the years. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has the ability to aid with cell function throughout the body, hence it's ability to support normal bodily function. However, it's also important to note that, although vitamin C can help fight disease and protect your immune system, research suggests that it's only about 8%. Which isn't much, but it's better than nothing, right?
If you think that you're not getting enough vitamin C and don't eat many citrus fruits, it may be worth supplementing if you're looking at boosting your immune system.
#2 - Broccoli
I'm not going to lie, I absolutely love broccoli!
This powerhouse vegetable is bursting with nutrients to support a strong and healthy body. Broccoli boasts a rich list of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, B6, A, and contains antioxidants and phytochemicals which help with Immune function and eradicating free radicals (bad cells) from the body.
Another benefit of broccoli is that it's fat-free and very low in calories.
#3 - Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are a staple to many peoples diets and are a great alternative to white potato if you fancy changing it up a bit.. The macro-nutrient makeup of both sweet and white potatoes are very similar in calories, proteins and carbs, however sweet potato is packed with vitamin A, unlike the white potato which is higher in potassium.
Vitamin A acts as a hormone withing the body and is highly effective at diminishing free radicals. It also contributes to a healthy immune system, cell function, reproduction, and supports growth and development.
Vitamin A can also be found in animal products such as milk, eggs, and meat.
#4 - Ginger
Now before we start, I'm not talking about the powdered form you get in small jars for adding flavour to your favourite meals. I'm talking about root ginger.
Ginger has been used in herbal and alternative medicine for centuries. Studies suggest that it contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, also benefiting the digestive system and immune system. Scientists found that in one experiment where 300 people were polled, 69% of pharmacy customers found ginger root to be effective as a herbal medicine. Although, this wasn't a controlled group as such.
Fundamentally, ginger is a good source of vitamin A, B, C and E, also benefiting from mineral sources such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. Overall, a magnificent super-food to incorporate into your diet to help with the support of a healthy immune system and bodily function.
#5 - Almonds
So far we have mentioned a lot about vitamin C, but almonds help the body in a different way.
Almonds are high in vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant, again removing those nasty free radicals that are harmful to the body. Combining a sufficient amount of vitamin C foods with things that are high in vitamin E like almonds, is a great way of boosting your immune system.
As well as almonds being high in vitamin E, they also contain high traces of minerals such as manganese, magnesium, copper and phosphorus.
Keeping your immune system in check is crucial for the normal functioning of all your internal systems and structures. Evidence suggests that eating these nutritious foods will not only aid towards keeping the bad bacteria out, but also improve recovery time.
It's important to maintain a varied diet, rich in fruits and vegetables for maximum nutrition intake. Include these foods as part of a healthy balanced diet, and your immune system could benefit from it, as well as other complex systems within the body.