In this article, we’re going to discuss some key nutrients that can help boost our immune system, as well as the foods that contain those nutrients. We will also provide a few simple, super easy recipes that utilize these foods. When we say “boost our immune system,” we do not mean ramping it up to the point of overactivity, as this can actually cause adverse health effects. Rather, this article is meant to show you the nutrients that support our immune system so that it can function as it should.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the immune system, as it promotes the activity of phagocyte cells. Phagocytes include many of our white blood cells in our immune system and help to eat or destroy foreign particles or cells such as bacteria and viruses. While many of us think of oranges as a good source of vitamin C, there are many other foods that contain vitamin C, such as bell peppers, grapefruits, kiwis, strawberries, and broccoli. A recipe that we recommend is one pan chicken fajitas, which utilizes vitamin C-rich bell peppers.
To make this recipe, you will need three bell peppers (and don’t be afraid to mix different colors), one onion, spices including chili powder, paprika, ground cumin, and oregano, four cloves of garlic, two skinless, boneless chicken breasts, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Start by cutting the bell pepper lengthwise and removing the part with the seeds and stem. Then, cut the pepper into thin slices. Repeat this process with each pepper. Next, peel the garlic cloves, and mince them by first slicing them and then dicing them so that they are in small pieces. Cut the chicken breasts into slices similar to the shape and size of the bell pepper slices. Place a piece of parchment paper over a pan to prevent sticking and place the veggies, chicken, garlic, and onion on the pan. Squeeze half a lemon worth of juice on top and add your spices, at least one tablespoon of chili powder, and 1/2 a tablespoon each of cumin, oregano, and paprika. Also, add salt and pepper to your taste and drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil on top. Mix everything well or mix everything together in a large bowl first and then transfer it to the pan. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are crisp yet tender.
Vitamin A is another important nutrient for the immune system, as it helps us to develop our immune system and protect us against infections by helping to keep the skin and tissues in our mouth and respiratory system healthy. Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, cooked spinach, butternut squash, pumpkin, and chicken liver. A recipe that we recommend is sweet and sour sautéed carrots for vitamin A. This recipe uses plant sources like carrots, and the vitamin A will be better absorbed when you eat it or cook it with a source of fats because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin.
To make this recipe, you will need two to three large carrots, a bit of ginger, white vinegar, sugar, and a bit of green onion. Start by peeling the carrots and chopping off the ends. Cut three small thin slices of ginger and finely mince them. The carrots will then be julienned or cut into thin matchsticks. Stack up the slices, lay them on their flat side, and cut lengthwise so that they come out as thin little matchsticks. Do this for all the carrots that you want to cook. You will also need a small bit of the white portion of the green onion as well as a bit of the green portion, and roughly chop them.
The final way to support our immune system is to make sure we are getting enough water. Adequate hydration is necessary for the proper functioning of all bodily systems, including the immune system. Water helps to transport nutrients throughout the body and remove waste products, which supports the immune system in functioning optimally. It is recommended that adults drink at least 8 cups of water per day, but this can vary based on individual needs and lifestyle factors.
In addition to incorporating nutrient-rich foods into our diet and practicing healthy habits, there are also certain foods and supplements that are marketed as immune boosters. However, it’s important to approach these claims with a critical eye and to always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. Some commonly touted immune-boosting foods and supplements include:
- Garlic: Garlic has been used for centuries for its purported immune-boosting properties, but research on its effectiveness is mixed. Some studies have shown that garlic may have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, but more research is needed to determine its overall impact on the immune system.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are found in certain foods and supplements. Some research suggests that probiotics may help support the immune system by improving gut health, but more research is needed to confirm this.
- Elderberry: Elderberry is a plant that is often used for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it has been studied for its potential immune-boosting effects. Some research suggests that elderberry may help reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms, but more research is needed to determine its effectiveness.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for bone health, but it may also play a role in supporting the immune system. Some research suggests that low levels of vitamin D may be linked to an increased risk of respiratory infections, but more research is needed to confirm this.
- Zinc: As mentioned earlier, zinc is an important mineral that is involved in many bodily processes, including the proper functioning of the immune system. Some research suggests that zinc may help reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm this.
In conclusion, there are many ways to support our immune system through our diet and lifestyle. By incorporating nutrient-rich foods into our diet, practicing healthy habits like getting enough sleep and regular exercise, and staying hydrated, we can help ensure that our immune system is functioning optimally. While there are certain foods and supplements that are marketed as immune boosters, it’s important to approach these claims with a critical eye and to always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.