Written by Elizabeth Boham, MD
Top 5 Foods to Support Your Immune System

Top 5 Foods to Support Your Immune System

The holidays are fast approaching, and with it comes flu season. No one wants to ruin their holiday by catching a cold or the flu! One of the best ways to keep these infections away is to use food to strengthen your immune system. These five foods can be used to prevent viruses from invading your body and help you get back on your feet in no time.

  1. Soup / Bone Broth – We all reach for soup in the winter months or when we are feeling sick and run down, and for good reason.. Research shows that chicken soup can help the common cold by decreasing the mucous production that often makes you feel so awful. When you add vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions and garlic, soup can be a great way to get many healthful vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Making bone broth to use as the stock of your soup will provide you with many immune-boosting amino acids as well. Learn more in The Doctor’s Farmacy, where Dr. Hyman spoke with Marco Canora and discusses the benefits of bone broth.
  2. Mushrooms – Medicinal mushrooms like shiitake, or even common mushrooms like button, can work wonders on your immune system. Mushrooms boost the activity of natural killer cells, which are part of your immune system. They identify and gobble up viruses and bacteria in the body, preventing them from causing illness. Mushrooms also improve gut immunity, which is very important for your overall health. The intestinal barrier works to prevent unwanted infections from getting into your body. In addition, mushrooms are one of the only good food sources of vitamin D, which has been shown to strengthen your immune system. I love adding mushrooms into soups, stews, and salads. Learn more about how you can incorporate these powerful mushroom into your day.
  3. Oysters Zinc is crucial for the functioning of multiple aspects of our immune system, including the innate immune system, neutrophils, NK cells and T and B cells. Because of this, zinc deficiency is one of the top 10 causes of death in developing countries. You can get zinc in many protein sources, including meat, beans, seafoods, and nuts. Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc. So pass the hot sauce!
  4. Fish – Fish helps your immune system in three ways. It is rich in vitamin A (retinol), which is necessary for the immune system to function well. It also contains selenium, which aids in glutathione production, a very important antioxidant and detoxifier. I speak more about how avoiding toxins and supporting the production of glutathione is so important for your immune system to function properly in my Breast Wellness DVD and ebook. Thirdly, it is full of omega-3 fats which help reduce inflammation in your body. Choose smaller fish like sardines and wild-caught salmon over large fish that can contain high levels of mercury, such as tuna, swordfish, and king mackerel.
  5. Citrus – Could a list of immune boosting foods be complete without oranges? No! Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for humans, which means that we can’t make it in the body and need to consume it regularly for our body to function properly. Vitamin C helps the functioning of many immune cells in the body, helping them gobble up and get rid of unwanted invaders. It also supports the epithelial barriers in the body, which are one of the first lines of defense against infections. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are notoriously high in vitamin C. Many other vegetables and fruits such as spinach, broccoli, kiwi, and tomatoes are also very high in vitamin C. To make sure that you are getting enough vitamin C, try to have 8 to 10 fruits and vegetables every day.

Learn more about how to keep your immune system strong with my Eight Strategies for Boosting Your Immunity. Or plan to join Sudha Carolyn Lundeen and me at Kripalu for a whole weekend in January on Building a Better Immune System.

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