Enhance Clean Eating with Immune-Boosting Foods
Foods rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C increases the production and activity of white blood cells, strengthening the immune system. Good sources include broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, and Brussels sprouts.
Foods high in vitamin E
Vitamin E neutralizes harmful free radical molecules that cause cell damage, enabling the immune system to focus on healing. Good sources include nuts, seeds, vegetable oil, spinach, and tomato products.
Foods rich in zinc
Zinc is essential for proper T cell and natural killer cell function and proper lymphocyte (small white blood cells that play a role in the body’s immune response) activity, and it may be directly involved in antibody production to help you fight infections. Good sources include lean meats, liver, poultry, shellfish, black beans, green peas, whole grains, yogurt, wheat germ, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and peanuts.
Foods rich in beta carotene and other carotenoids
Beta carotene supports the thymus gland (a gland in the upper chest cavity that processes lymphocytes), making it one of your most important sources of immunity. Good sources of beta carotene and other carotenoids include orange fruits and vegetables, including carrots, apricots, nectarines, mangoes, pumpkin, and yams.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
These essential fatty acids fight inflammation and boost the immune system, but when consumed in excess, they may have the opposite effect, suppressing the immune system. If you get your omega-3 fatty acids from food sources, you’re unlikely to get too much. Find this nutrient in marine foods, such as salmon, sardines, and herring; seeds and nuts; and canola and flaxseed oils.
Garlic contains allicin, a pungent antioxidant that can fight a variety of pathogens and serves as a natural antibiotic. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, garlic contains selenium, which has been referred to as the immune system mineral.
Selenium stimulates the development and function of all types of white blood cells and enhances the ability of lymphocytes and natural killer cells to activate and respond to invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. Allicin is best obtained from freshly chopped or crushed garlic. Selenium can be found in garlic, lean meats, shellfish, vegetables, and grains.