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Can Certain Foods and Drinks Help your Immune System?

Can Certain Foods and Drinks Help your Immune System?

What is the first thing you reach for when you’re feeling sick? Is it a sugary lemon-lime soda, a sports drink, or a can of chicken noodle soup? There are certain drinks and foods we naturally prefer when we’re trying to heal our bodies from an illness. Whether they soothe the throat or ease a stomach ache, boost the intake of fluids, or are simply comfort foods, they all have different ways of healing the body and supporting the immune system

There are a number of other foods and drinks that can help you either kick a cold faster, or prevent yourself from getting sick altogether! These are some foods and drinks that boost the immune system.

Foods and Drinks that Boost the Immune System

Veggies, veggies, veggies!
We know you probably hear this a lot. But the reason why health experts and nutritionists push vegetables so much is because they are just that important. Vegetables contain vitamins and nutrients that are vital to cell production - especially white blood cells which combat viruses and other foreign invaders to the body. Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables at each meal. 

Here are some easy ways to increase your vegetable intake each day: 
- Make a big pot of chicken vegetable soup with as many veggies as you can
- Steam a big batch of green beans, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower to eat throughout the week as a side dish
- Prep veggies ahead of time - wash, slice, chop - and have them ready for snacking
- Buy a yummy, healthy dip like hummus that you really love that will get you excited to dunk veggies and munch
- Make side salads your friend! Get a salad dressing you already enjoy and top it with even more chopped veggies
- Get pre-made salad kits which are now available pretty much at any grocery store for a quick salad in a pinch
- Keep bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer to quickly add to a stir-fry or on top of whole grain pasta 
- Sneak spinach greens or kale into smoothies (you won’t even taste them - promise)
- Sautee dark leafy greens like kale or collard greens in a pan to serve with scrambled eggs or over brown rice

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are wonderful immune boosting foods as they contain many immune-supporting vitamins and minerals, and plenty of antioxidants. Rather than purchasing juice (which contains a lot of sugar), opt to eat the entire fruit for the added benefit of fiber to keep everything moving through your system. 

Sip or soupify bone broth

Bone broth is made from animal bones and is rich in minerals that helps support immune function. This broth can be sipped as a soothing hot wellness drink or used as a base for vegetable soup. Bone broth also contains collagen and other healthy fats that are beneficial to skin and joints, making it a wonderful healer when muscles and joints begin to ache.

Turmeric

This sweet, orange-colored spice does more than just season traditional Indian dishes. Turmeric may improve immune response and it is naturally anti-inflammatory. Add a sprinkle of this spice to your morning smoothie, over top of soups, or to season roasted nuts. Just be sure to get the organic kind since many inexpensive versions can contain added fillers. You can even purchase the full root, usually found in the produce section of your grocery store next to the fresh ginger root.  

Green tea

Antioxidants go a long way in supporting immune function and green tea contains plenty of them. This tea is also rich in chlorophyll, a natural detoxifier that is found in all leafy green vegetables. Green tea contains certain amino acids that help clear brain fog, so it is a great wellness drink to have to improve focus when you’re on the mend from an illness. 

Red bell pepper

An excellent source of vitamin C, red bell pepper is a fantastic way to boost the immune system. Rather than steaming or boiling this type of vegetable, gently saute or stir-fry peppers in a pan to ensure the maximum amount of nutrition is preserved. 

Garlic

Garlic has been found to help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus, and may support the body in fighting viruses and other foreign microorganisms. This means garlic is a naturally helpful food for supporting immune system function. This is a great recipe for lemon herb hummus that includes four cloves of garlic and is perfect for scooping with healthy veggies.

The best way to support the immune system is to take good care of yourself regularly with a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of exercise, and a lot of rest. However, if you do catch a cold or come down with another illness, these are a few foods and drinks to add to your daily routine to feel better as quickly as possible. 

Reference articles: https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/foods-boost-immune-system
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322412#which-foods-boost-the-immune-system