Getting Ready For Quarantine? Stock up on these 5 immune boosting foods!
When it comes to illness prevention during a time such as the COVID-19 pandemic, eating and maintaining a healthy diet is just as important as frequent hand washing and limiting contact with others. Consuming foods with processed oils, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars can trigger inflammation that weakens the immune system and makes the body more susceptible to illness. Many people wait until they are sick to start taking care of their immune system and then purchase vitamin C supplements, which are often ineffective when the body is already sick.
Fortunately, there are many different kinds of foods with immune system supporting properties. You do not have to eat tons of citrus fruit nor go on a fad diet to improve your immunity. Here are five foods you can easily add to your diet with incredible immune system-boosting benefits:
1. Red Bell Peppers
This nutrient-dense vegetable contains more vitamin C than an orange and has over 30 different carotenoid nutrients, which the body turns into vitamin A. This not only strengthens the immune system but can also improve eye health and protect against cancer. The red bell pepper is also a great source of luteolin, a phytonutrient with anti-inflammatory properties that help the immune system fight off harmful pathogens. Cook red bell peppers at low temperatures for as little time as possible or eat them raw as high heat can damage the vital phytonutrient content.
2. Grass-Fed Beef
Red meat gets a bad rep because conventional meats often contain inflammation triggers that can send the immune system into overdrive. When cows are fed soy, corn, or other grains that are not optimal for their health, important nutrients are lost in the final product. Grass-fed beef contains much higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, and zinc compared to conventional counterparts. While buying organic meat is ideal, be sure to always check the packaging for information about the feed as the organic label does not always mean “grass-fed.”
Garlic has a long history of traditional medicine usage due to powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. The sulfuric compounds found in garlic help the body absorb zinc from other foods more efficiently, thus improving the immune system’s ability to fight bacteria and infection. Garlic provides many other benefits such as the promotion of healthy gut flora and lowering blood pressure, which helps the immune system function more efficiently. Consume garlic raw to maximize health benefits as heat and water can diminish the important sulfuric enzymes.
4. Sweet Potatoes
This delicious root vegetable is chock full of immune system supporting nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and beta-carotene. The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of the anthocyanins found in the sweet potato can boost the body’s defense against sickness. To optimize the nutrient benefits of sweet potatoes, steam or bake them at low temperatures and eat the skins for extra vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate.
The antiviral and antibacterial properties of ginger may help prevent colds if consumed year-round. Historically, ginger has been used to treat a wide range of conditions from gastric disorders to inflammation. This root has other benefits such as stimulating circulation and lowering blood pressure, which is also important in maintaining a healthy immune system. To reap the benefits of ginger, consume it raw, cooked, or brewed into a tea.
Don’t wait for sickness to strike to take care of your immune system. If you include these healthy foods along with other whole foods in your diet, you may even outright prevent illness altogether. Consider eliminating processed foods and refined sugars from your diet as the inflammation from these foods can make it more difficult for your body to fight off illness. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.