Over the past two years of the pandemic, we’ve all become more health-conscious, especially when it comes to our immune systems. Whether it’s COVID, the flu, or any other illness, we would all love to reduce our chances of getting sick any way we can. While exercising and getting plenty of sleep are great ways to boost immunity, one of the most effective ways to bolster your immune system is with your diet.
Eating a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods supplies your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off infections. You can take immune boosting supplements, but most research suggests those nutrients are better absorbed in the body when consumed in food. Here are some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet to improve immune health. Browse through any weekly meal prep menu at Zero Doubt Club, and you’ll be sure to find many of these ingredients in our dishes!
Almonds, a healthy fat, are loaded with vitamin E, an important nutrient for immune health that guards cells against damaging free radical molecules. Have a handful of almonds as a daily snack to help stay healthy.
All hot peppers contain the chemical capsaicin, which is known to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. In hotter parts of the world with limited refrigeration, many cultures use spicy peppers to help preserve and protect food from harmful microbes. These peppers have the same impact in your body, helping to shield you from bacterial and fungal infections. So, a few dashes of hot sauce over dinner can actually reduce your chances of getting sick.
Citrus, such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit are loaded with vitamin C, a crucial nutrient for immune support. Vitamin C helps maintain healthy levels of white blood cells, which allows your body to fight infections. Start your day with a glass of orange juice, drop a wedge of lemon into your water, or snack on a grapefruit to give your body a citrusy immune boost!
Ginger and Turmeric
Staples of Indian and Thai food, these spicy little roots are just as healthy as they are delicious. They provide impressive levels of protection against inflammation and can also promote a healthy gut. Try drinking ginger tea or seasoning your food with turmeric powder for a tasty immunity enhancement.
Onions & Garlic
The backbone to so many dishes, onions and garlic are immune-boosting powerhouses as well. Onions are rich in antioxidants, but they also have high levels of prebiotics, which help to build healthy bacteria in the gut and protect from illness. Garlic, with its high concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, has long been known to ward off infection. Even people in the Middle Ages, ancient Rome, and ancient India used garlic as preventative medicine.
Like citrus, spinach is high in vitamin C, but it also has a hearty amount of beta carotene and other antioxidants, making it a great food to fight off infections. Spinach provides the most protection when eaten raw.
Look for yogurt that’s labeled as “probiotic” or with “live and active cultures” to stimulate your immune system. These cultures can help develop healthy bacteria in the gut which are important for robust immunity.
As with all aspects of health, water is critical for immunity. Water carries oxygen to your cells to make sure everything functions properly and prevents toxins from building up. To avoid getting sick, make sure you drink plenty of water every day.
-Jared Kent, Chef Zero Doubt Club