Brightly-colored foods like beetroot, berries, and dark green leafy vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals that can help your immune system fight off infections.
The health benefits of these foods come from their deeply colored pigments. These pigments are called phytonutrients. They are natural chemicals found only in plants that help maintain immune function. (Related: Eating okra is an easy way to boost your immune system.)
Studies suggest that phytonutrients could also help prevent lifestyle-related diseases like cancer or heart disease. In addition, taking supplements containing fruit and vegetable extracts could improve antioxidant levels.
Other examples of colorful, phytonutrients-rich fruits and vegetables that you can eat include apples, cranberries, peaches, pineapples, oranges, eggplant, broccoli, carrots, kale, parsley, and spinach.
During colder months, soups can help you warm up. They're also a good way to boost your nutrient intake.
Make soups with nutritious vegetables to increase your phytonutrient consumption and boost your immunity. Add herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, oregano, and turmeric that have antibacterial and antiviral properties for an extra immune system boost.
Additionally, herbs and spices have thermogenic properties that can boost metabolism, circulation, and fat burning.
Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are full of beneficial antioxidants. Antioxidants help defend your cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
If free radicals accumulate in your body, they can cause oxidative stress which can damage your DNA and other important structures in your cells. Chronic oxidative stress is linked to a greater risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
The colored pigments in foods like leafy green vegetables and peppers also help with nitric oxide (NO) production. NO is a molecule that has a crucial role in various bodily functions like blood flow, mitochondrial respiration, and platelet function. The mitochondria is where cell energy is made while platelets are tiny blood cells that help form blood clots to stop bleeding.
Leafy greens also contain magnesium, a mineral that helps the nervous system and boosts the immune system in the process.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber that improves gut health. A healthy gut can also enhance immune function. Choose your favorites from the list of antioxidant-rich foods below to make refreshing fruit or vegetable juices.
Elderberry and sage are often used to make herbal remedies that treat various conditions. These natural cures strengthen and heal the immune system.
Sage has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It is often used for homemade remedies that address cold and flu symptoms. The herb is also believed to enhance memory and ease congestion and respiratory issues.
Elderberry, on the other hand, is traditionally used to boost the respiratory system and reduce fevers.
When researchers looked into the effects of oral elderberry syrup on flu infections, they found that the syrup worked well on young and old patients who had flu-like symptoms. The oral elderberry syrup relieved them of their symptoms and cut down their need to use rescue medication.
Supplementation with vitamins A, C, and D will keep your immune system strong, which is important during flu season.
Follow a healthy diet and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system.