6 Foods That Boost the Immune System
Food and what you eat is incredibly powerful. The food you eat impacts your health, mood, activity levels, and immune system health.
You truly are what you eat.
Our goal at AHCC Research is to provide you with information that can help you make informed decisions about how to best support your immune system health. Remember, your immune system is integral to your ability to withstand colds, flus, bacteria, viruses, and disease.
Food should taste good and do good for your physical, mental, and immune system health.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, tangerines, and clementines are packed full of Vitamin C and fiber. Vitamin C has been shown to be critical in the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are a key part of your innate immune system and are your first line of defense against infection and illness.
Because your body cannot produce Vitamin C, it's important that you eat foods high in Vitamin C on a daily basis. Additionally, Vitamin C helps you better absorb iron from foods such as meat, tofu, and shellfish.
Add a couple of clementines to your lunch, squeeze fresh lemon juice in your tea or water, add orange segments to a spinach salad, or add a peeled grapefruit to your morning smoothie.
Along with keeping vampires away, garlic is one of the most popular go-to immune boosting foods. Garlic contains allicin, which fights infection and bacteria.
Add crushed or minced garlic to soups, stews, and curries, roast whole heads of garlic and add this to dips and spreads or add raw minced garlic to salad dressings and guacamole.
This bright yellow spice and root vegetable has long been used to help fortify the immune system and defend against illness. Turmeric is easily available at grocery stores, look for it in the spice aisle and whole in the vegetable section.
The primary health benefits of turmeric come from curcumin, this active ingredient has been shown to help lower inflammation and as an immunomodulatory agent that can modulate the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells.
Blend a teaspoon of turmeric into smoothies, add the spice to soups, stews, and curries, make a golden milk latte, add a dash of turmeric to rice, quinoa, and your morning oats.
Mushrooms are a true superfood. As you may know, AHCC is an all-natural supplement derived from mushrooms. The list of health benefits that come with these mighty but powerful fungi reinforces why we want you to add mushrooms to your daily diet:
- Immune-boosting benefits of mushrooms. A study by the University of Florida’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutritionshowed that eating shitake mushrooms on a daily basis strengthens immunity.
- Anti-inflammatory powers of mushrooms. White button mushrooms have been found to have powerful anti-inflammatory boosting abilities.
- Gut bacteria health. There is research that shows how mushrooms can help improve gut bacteria– which has wide-ranging health impacts.
- Longer, healthier life with mushrooms. As we know, antioxidants help you live a longer and healthier life. Mushrooms are packed full of powerful antioxidants. The mushrooms super rich in antioxidants include porcini, golden oyster, lion’s mane, maitake, and shiitake.
- Digestion support. Mushrooms are a prebiotic food and are therefore super important for strengthening and building powerful gut bacteria. Eating mushrooms can help balance the bacteria in your microbiome – improving the health of your entire body – particularly your immune system.
- Cancer and mushrooms. Mushrooms are rich in proteins called lectins. Lectins are recognized for their ability to help the immune system defend against and destroy cancer cells.
One of the best things about mushrooms is their versatility. Eat mushrooms raw in salads, grill portobello mushrooms, make mushroom soup, add mushrooms to pizza, spaghetti sauce, stews, or your vegetable stir fry.
It's not an old wives’ tale - chicken soup really can keep colds away and help you feel better when run-down. Chicken soup is packed with nutritious ingredients that work together to support your immune system and give you a mental boost when you're struggling with a cold or sore throat.
When chicken is cooked, it releases the amino acid cysteine which has similar properties to drugs used to treat bronchitis. The salt in the chicken broth helps keep mucus thin – just like cough syrup. Additionally, the collagen in chicken broth helps to strengthen your immune system. As well, adding spices and seasonings like garlic, onion, turmeric, and pepper help fortify the immune boosting power of chicken soup.
Do you have a favourite chicken soup recipe? Share it on our Facebook page so everyone in the AHCC Research community can reap the benefits of a delicious bowl of chicken soup. Hint: make a double batch of this chicken soup recipe and freeze it in individual serving containers for a quick and healthy lunch or supper.
Yogurt is an ideal source of probiotics or "good bacteria" that help support your gut health (gut microbiome). Recent research tells us that gut health has direct impacts on your immune system, ability to sleep, and good digestion.
Look for plain natural yogurt that has 1 or 2% milk fat - the fat is beneficial to your health and helps make the yogurt taste good. Add berries, citrus fruits, cereal, natural peanut butter, or even chopped dark chocolate to your natural yogurt for a healthy breakfast, snack, or dessert.
Eat Well to Feel Great
The great thing about these six foods that boost the immune system is that they're super easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Think of making a super fortified chicken soup that includes garlic, turmeric, mushrooms, and lemon zest. Or make a super smoothie that uses yogurt, citrus fruits, turmeric, and berries.
Tell us what you eat to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Share your favorite healthful recipes on the AHCC Research Facebook community page.