There’s no way around it: Being sick is no fun. Apples may get the most attention when it comes to foods that keep the doctor away, but there are lots of foods that can give your immune system a little lift. Here are some of my top picks for immunity-boosting foods to put on your “get well, stay well” grocery list.
By Jessica Cording
Much of our body’s immune system function takes place in the gut, so eating foods that keep the digestive system healthy and in good working order may help keep us healthy too. Yogurt is packed with beneficial probiotic bacteria that go to work fighting the good fight. Just skip the sweetened versions to save yourself a bunch of sugar, something that’s not doing your body any favors. The protein in yogurt also helps keep your blood sugar stable so you’ll feel more energetic.
One kiwi packs about 85% of your daily vitamin C needs which helps your body outrun or fight off that nagging cold. These little guys also provide copper, another nutrient that’s key to proper immune system function. They’re also packed with potassium which soothes aches and pains and fiber which promotes healthy digestion.
This anti-inflammatory herb has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments and has been noted in studies for its role in the treatment of cancer, gastrointestinal issues, and diabetes, among other conditions. It also happens to be great for kicking major butt when it comes to the cold and flu.
Make a healing tea by boiling a teaspoon of turmeric in water. Take it off the heat and add a ¼ teaspoon each of ground ginger and black pepper. Sip slowly through the day and say “see ya” to those sniffles.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, a mineral essential to immune system function. A quarter-cup serving provides about 20% of your daily needs. They’re also a great source of magnesium, another mineral needed for normal muscle and nerve function so your body can work at its peak potential and scare off invaders. They’ve also been studied for their antioxidant properties. Pumpkin seeds are rich in ALA, a plant-based form of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. The protein in pumpkin seeds helps your body stay energized and perform at its peak.
These legumes provide filling protein and fiber and make a great addition to soups, salads, and grain dishes. You can also use them in place of chickpeas when making hummus. Lentils are packed with iron, a mineral that’s important because of its role in transporting oxygen through the blood to help your body—and immune system—function efficiently and ward off infections. A half-cup of cooked lentils provides almost 20% of your daily iron needs. To boost the absorption of the iron, eat lentils in a dish with vitamin C-rich foods such as tomatoes, peppers, or sweet potatoes.
What are your favorite immunity-boosting foods?
By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN: Jessica is a registered dietitian and writer in NYC. She blogs at Keeping It Real Food.
Image via Gal Meets Glam.