Knowing what to eat to strengthen the immune system means helping the body prevent, and eventually combat, attacks from viruses and bacteria.
In fact, there are many foods capable of helping the body by boosting its defenses.
While the quality and strength of an organism play an innate role, diet is essential for fortifying it and making it less vulnerable to viruses, bacteria, and ailments we come into contact with daily, regardless of health emergencies.
Naturally, at the top of the list, you will find many types of fruits and vegetables, but not only: the lactic ferments in yogurt or even the flavonoids found in dark chocolate, for example, prove to be valuable aids in boosting the immune system.
Here’s What to Eat
Spinach: Ideal for Boosting the Immune System
Spinach is a great source of vitamin C and folic acid, which can increase the immune defenses and repair cells.
This leafy green vegetable can also keep the body well hydrated and increase energy levels.
In addition to spinach, all bitter vegetables are at the top of the list of things to eat to strengthen the immune system.
Their diuretic properties help the body detoxify, allowing it to cleanse deeply.
Both spinach and other bitter vegetables can be consumed raw or cooked, but it’s preferable to eat them raw to preserve their valuable nutritional properties.
Broccoli: Great Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Broccoli is among the most well-known foods with excellent anti-inflammatory properties and provides essential minerals, making it a fundamental ally against the flu.
Steam them and season with a drizzle of oil, salt, and pepper; they will maintain their organoleptic properties.
Garlic: Inhibits Bacterial Growth
Garlic is also one of the foods that improve the immune system.
It contains sulfur, a substance that inhibits bacterial growth and keeps the intestine clean.
It also contains allicin and sulfur, two substances that stimulate cellular reproduction and multiplication, necessary to combat infections.
Allicin has antibiotic, antimicrobial, and antifungal effects, significantly enhancing immune defenses.
For this reason, those who regularly incorporate garlic into their diet suffer from nearly 50% fewer seasonal ailments and recover more quickly from colds and flu.
Pomegranate: Rich in Vitamins
Pomegranate is not only an excellent ally for the skin but also a food rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins.
These properties make it a perfect fruit to combat the cold and flu and, in general, prevent seasonal illnesses.
Consume 1 or 2 pomegranates every day during this time of year, either on their own, as a complement to salads, or by extracting their juice.
Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: Help Prevent Infections
Royal jelly, the food the queen bee feeds on, is a concentrate of beneficial substances: vitamins from groups A, B, C, and E; minerals like copper, iron, phosphorus, and selenium; unsaturated fatty acids, and even calcium.
Taking a teaspoon of royal jelly in the morning, preferably on an empty stomach, helps prevent infections.
Honey also contains substances with bactericidal and antibiotic effects. Consuming a spoonful daily can help prevent coughs, the flu, colds, and sore throats by disinfecting the respiratory tract.
Propolis, the substance bees use to cover the hive, is another excellent product for health. It has a high content of amino acids, vitamins, essential oils, trace elements, and bioflavonoids, helping to contain viral and bacterial diseases.
Taking propolis is advisable in case of seasonal respiratory illnesses and when immune defenses are weakened due to stress, anxiety, and depression. When stress increases, in fact, the immune system suffers, making us more vulnerable to illnesses.
Citrus Fruits: Boost the Immune System
Citrus fruits are known to be excellent allies for health.
Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes have a high content of vitamin C, which helps the immune system fight diseases and strengthen the body.
Furthermore, vitamin C promotes the absorption of iron found in plant-based foods, so consuming different types of fruits and vegetables along with citrus fruits has a double beneficial effect.
Red grapes and bananas also increase immune defenses. Rich in potassium, they strengthen bones and act as a barrier against various viruses and bacteria.
Legumes: Increase Defenses
Lentils, beans, chickpeas, and peas should be consumed daily.
Legumes, in fact, have a high iron content that makes them beneficial substances.
They should be well-cooked to better tolerate the intestines and eaten whole, with their skins, as this is where the anticancer substances are concentrated.
Soy is also good, rich as it is in phytoestrogens capable of defending against breast and uterine tumors.
Dark Chocolate: Improves the Immune System
Dark chocolate can enhance a group of lymphocytes that improve our defenses, teaching them to adapt to changing infections.
Rich in a plant molecule, flavanol, which has a hypotensive and protective effect on the heart by lowering the amount of lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), dark chocolate has many beneficial effects.
It also inhibits the activation and aggregation of platelets, slowing down the process of arteriosclerosis, and also has a good content of vitamins.
Vitamin C increases immune defenses, stimulates iron absorption, and prevents cell oxidation (slowing down cellular aging); vitamin A delays the effects of aging, stimulates cell reproduction in the skin and hair, and promotes bone growth.
Yogurt: Protects the Body from Viruses and Bacteria
Yogurt is rich in live and active lactic ferments, true “good bacteria” that can improve and protect the intestinal flora from any less friendly bacteria.
By regulating the bacterial flora, yogurt helps protect the immune system.
In addition to yogurt, all fermented foods are recommended, especially kefir.
Kefir, very rich in probiotics, helps fight viruses and bacteria.
Aloe Vera: Boosts Immune Defenses
A natural remedy with top marks for preventing the flu and boosting the immune defenses is aloe vera.
Its juice (found in supermarkets, organic food stores, and pharmacies) contains a blend of vitamins that rival the best fruits and many minerals.
Drinking it in the morning is perfect for ensuring excellent health.
Ginger: Helps Fight Infections
Ginger is a root widely used in Asian cuisine.
The reason? It provides significant health benefits, making it one of the top ingredients in natural medicine that has been popular in the East for centuries.
Ginger contains many antioxidants that help fight infections and combat cell aging by preventing cell oxidation.
You can use it fresh, chewing it in peeled pieces, or dried, pulverized and added to hot or cold dishes.
In addition to ginger, other roots and spices useful for strengthening the immune system include black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, which can reactivate metabolism and eliminate toxins and waste.
Chili & Spices: Natural Aspirin
Spices, especially chili, are great allies against the flu and fever because they are natural sources of acetylsalicylic acid, which is the main component of aspirin, the medicine we all use to treat seasonal illnesses.
Mushrooms: Increase Defenses
Mushrooms contain beta-glucans, complex carbohydrates that enhance the activity of the immune system against infections and even against tumors.
Their high selenium content helps white blood cells produce cytokines, protein molecules necessary for cell regeneration.
They also contain immunostimulants that activate white blood cells, responsible for defense against viral and bacterial infections.
Onions: Antiseptic and Antibacterial Properties
It is said that onions absorb bacteria.
Now, we wouldn’t want to exaggerate, but there is some truth to this popular belief.
Just like garlic, onions are a natural remedy for cold-related disorders.
This food is truly rich in antiseptic and antibacterial properties: cut some slices into your salads, use them to season vegetable soups and risottos, and you will see that they are an excellent ally in fighting the flu and cold.
Green Tea: Fights Flu Viruses
Green tea is, not by chance, the most consumed beverage in Asia. As with ginger, it is also a substance widely used in natural medicine.
It contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that increase immune defenses and combat free radicals.
Black tea would also help the immune system. According to a study conducted at Harvard University, drinking five cups of black tea a day helps the immune system quadruple its defenses thanks to theanine.
This article first appeared on grazia.it — Author: Camilla Sernagiotto