Immune-Supportive Foods

Immune-Supportive Foods

The best way to support a strong immune system is to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods. These include fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and high-quality protein.  In addition, there are a few other superstars I would recommend enjoying as often as possible.

Cultured Foods

Did you know that 80% of the immune system resides in the gut?  A balanced microbiome is key to a healthy immune system. One of the best ways to support this system is to eat cultured foods, which replenish good bacteria in the gut.  Sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, miso and full-fat yogurt with live and active cultures and no added sugar or additives are all great ways to get more probiotic bacteria.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important in the production of the white blood cells, lymphocytes and phagocytes (which help fight infection). Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus, strawberries, bell pepper, kale and papaya. Cook these foods as little as possible (or not at all), as cooking depletes the Vitamin C.  Because your body doesn’t store Vitamin C, you need to replenish your supply daily. People are often surprised to learn that bell peppers contain twice as much Vitamin C as citrus. Add them to your eggs, salads or eat them by the slice with hummus.  

Garlic

Sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to increase the number of immune-fighting T cells in your blood.   

Green Tea

The flavonoid and antioxidant EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function and protect the body from oxidative stress.

Antioxidant-Rich Foods

One of the major mechanisms by which the COVID-19 virus causes illness is oxidative stress. While oxidative stress is a normal byproduct of metabolism, this viral infection accelerates the process to the point that the natural antioxidant systems become overwhelmed.  If your antioxidant levels are already low, this will be even more of a challenge. By repleting antioxidant levels, we can support the natural immune system. Antioxidants are typically found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. The pigment in fruits and vegetables is the actual antioxidant nutrients, so the more colorful, the better.  Try pomegranates, berries, dark chocolate, pecans and black rice.

Avoid Sugar

Refined sugar, found in most processed foods,  has been shown to suppress the immune system for several hours after consumption.  Therefore, eating refined sugar several times a day will result in a constant reduced immune function.