Keeping your immune system in top shape is important, because it’s what helps you stay healthy and have the energy to go about your day. Many factors influence how strong your immune system is: from how well you sleep and how much stress you’re under, to your age and environment. Diet also plays a major role in keeping you healthy, so make sure you’re getting the right foods, whether that’s as part of your meals or in the form of supplements. Here are some of the best superfoods that can help support your immune support.
This bright yellow spice, which is commonly found as a dried powder, contains a compound called curcumin, which has been found to support immunity. Turmeric helps to fight inflammation and oxidative damage, both of which play a part in many common diseases. You can use this spice in curries, as well as kitchari and golden milk lattes, or take it as a capsule. It’s helpful to consume turmeric often, whether you are sick or not, and you should mix it with black pepper so your body can better absorb the curcumin.
Chances are you already have garlic in your kitchen, which is great news for your immune system. It can support immune function, as well as help prevent the cold and flu, and reduce your symptoms. Garlic is an easy superfood to integrate into your diet, since so many recipes call for it. Why not add some to your pasta sauce?
- Functional Mushrooms
Different superfood mushroom species each have unique properties, but many of them are useful for immune support. They’re also convenient, because you can get a daily dose from whole food organic mushroom powder, mixed into smoothies, hot drinks, cooked meals and more. Reishi has immune-supporting properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral, among other benefits. Turkey Tail is well-known as an immune supporter, thanks to the polysaccharopeptides it contains, as well as its antioxidant components, and its mildly sweet taste makes it endlessly versatile. Chaga has anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory effects, which makes it a great choice for supporting immunity. All three species can help to prevent illness and reduce symptoms alike. Whichever you choose to take, it’s recommended that you double-dose for the first three weeks, taking 4 grams (or 2 teaspoons) daily, then reducing to 2 grams daily for continued immune support.
Eating two cups of spinach leaves every day can be beneficial, thanks to the vegetable’s high content of vitamins A, C and K. The chlorophyll, carotenoids and other components in spinach support the immune system, as well as strengthening bones and helping prevent age-related vision problems, heart disease and some cancers. Spinach makes the ideal base for your salads, smoothies and stir-fries.
The polysaccharides in your açaí bowl can have powerful immunity-supporting effects. Açaí berries, a superfood native to South American rainforests, help support heart health, act as a potential anti-inflammatory, and help to improve brain function. They’re also a great way to get your antioxidants in, and taste lovely in a smoothie. What’s not to like?
- Sunflower Seeds
Small but mighty, sunflower seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain phosphorus, magnesium, and several vitamins. The vitamin E in sunflower seeds is especially noteworthy if you’re looking to support your immune system, because of its antioxidant effect. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on anything you like, from smoothie bowls to salads and soups.
Avocado, the fatty fruit found on many a brunch table, not only tastes delicious but also comes with a range of health benefits. The healthy fats that give avocados their creamy texture are just one of the ways they can support your immune system. They also help support the body’s responses to a range of ailments, including constipation, food poisoning, inflammation and chronic disease, and may help provide relief for symptoms of osteoporosis. If you’re not a fan of avocado, you can also find it in capsule form.
When it comes to supporting your immune system, the right foods and supplements are essential. That said, there are many other lifestyle changes you can make to ensure you stay as healthy as possible. Read about easy ways to support your immune system here.
Iris is a London-based writer and editor with 6 years of experience creating content for various outlets. Her work has appeared in InStyle, SheKnows, Cosmopolitan, POPSUGAR, Her Campus and more.