The Top 20 Immune Boosting Foods

Many foods have immune stimulating effects and it is easy to include them into your diet on a daily basis. Additionally, by eating organic and seasonally you can be assured that your diet will be super rich in essential vitamins and minerals. We can make a huge difference to our health by eating the right foods as food really is medicine!

Mushrooms - Some recent studies have also found that they make white blood cells act more aggressively against foreign bacteria. The very best kinds of mushrooms are shiitake and maitake

Garlic - antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal and increases immune function. It’s also a good source of selenium, an important trace element, and sulphur, which is important for healthy liver function.

Onions - also a good source of sulphur and contain the same properties as garlic

Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, are all good sources of beta-carotene and help protect against free-radical damage. They also contain vitamin C and calcium.
Spinach and other leafy greens - contain beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A as well as vitamin C and calcium.

Orange vegetables - sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and squash are a good source of vitamin A which keeps our mucous membranes strong and healthy

Raisins, kiwi fruit, blueberries and oranges - great sources of vitamin C. To increase the amount of vitamin C from your oranges, thinly peel the skin off with a knife, leaving the white bioflavonoid rich inner peel.

Chinese cabbage - is rich in vitamin A 

Avocados - are rich in vitamin A and potassium and also contain folic acid and magnesium.

Ginger - helps the body fight off infection and has traditionally been used in treating colds and flu

Turmeric - enhances the immune system and has a detoxifying effect

Horseradish - contains oils that have demonstrated antibiotic properties and has been effective against infections

Blueberries - the ultimate immune-boosting food as so rich in anti-oxidants. When US researchers measured the levels of antioxidants in 40 different fruits and vegetables, blueberries came out near the top. In fact, a 125 gram serving of fresh blueberries supplies enough antioxidants to almost double our average daily intake

Beetroot - bursting with minerals and has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune-boosting and detoxifying properties.

Brazil nuts - you only need to eat two or three a day to benefit from their great combination of immune-boosting nutrients: vitamin E, selenium and B vitamins.

Grapefruit - has immune-boosting, antiseptic, wound-healing and anti-bacterial properties.

Cranberries - best known for helping to prevent and treat urinary tract infections, especially cystitis, in women. They have both anti-fungal and antiviral properties.

Green tea - is a rich source of a type of antioxidant called a catechin, and preliminary research has found that a specific catechin -- epigallocatechin gallate (egcg) -- may give the beverage antigen-fighting abilities. When researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada added green tea to lab samples of the adenovirus (one of many viruses that causes colds), they discovered that egcg inhibited the virus' ability to replicate. Similarly, researchers in South Korea found that egcg can also stop the influenza virus from replicating.

Yogurt – helps to keep infections at bay. That's because yoghurt contains probiotics, bacteria that stimulate immunity cells in the gastrointestinal tract. Normal, healthy bacteria that colonize the gastrointestinal tract help you resist bad bacteria and detoxify harmful substances. In addition to their protective effect in the GI tract, probiotics also may help stimulate immune-cell production system-wide.
In a recent study of 33 women from the University of Vienna, Austria, those who ate ordinary yogurt daily for two weeks raised their T-lymphocyte cell count by nearly 30 percent. T-lymphocytes are powerful immune enhancing cells.

Physical activity -In a year long study of 550 men and women, researchers from the University of South Carolina found those who exercised moderately were 25% less likely to develop a cold compared with those who rarely exercised. (The subjects simply walked at a brisk pace.) As with diet, moderation is critical; too much exercise or exercising to the point of exhaustion can boost the body's production of adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that temporarily suppress immune function.

©Emma Sutherland 2010