We all know that our bodies need a rich variety of nutrients to stay healthy and keep functioning properly. However, when it comes to strengthening your immune system, some foods are more potent than others. Here are some natural foods that may help boost your immunity:
Garlic is more than just a great way to add extra flavor to your meals. It contains the immune stimulating compound allicin, which promotes the activity of white blood cells to destroy cold and flu viruses.
Garlic also stimulates other immune cells which fight viral, fungal and bacterial infections. It kills, with near 100% effectiveness, the human rhinovirus. This is the virus which causes colds, common flu and respiratory viruses.
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Allicin is released when you cut, chop, chew or crush raw cloves. It’s best to allow freshly chopped garlic to stand for 10 minutes. Then cook it, sprinkle it over foods, drop it into your soup or even swallow bits of garlic with some water… like a pill.
You can also drop a clove of garlic into some honey and swallow it immediately for a quick dose of allicin that also tastes good.
Onions, like garlic, contain allicin. They also contain quercetin. This is a nutrient that breaks up mucus in your head and chest while also boosting your immune system.
Additionally the pungency of onions increases your blood circulation and makes you sweat. This is helpful during cold weather and to help prevent infections. Consuming raw onion within a few hours of the first symptoms of a cold or flu produces a strong immune effect.
Chopping onions and adding them to your favorite soup or cooked recipe is a great way to enjoy them. You can also try putting half an onion in your bedroom while you sleep. This can help absorb some of the circulating bacteria and potentially lessen the symptoms of your cold.
Red bell peppers
If you thought citrus fruits like oranges had the highest concentration of vitamin C…. think again. Red bell peppers, ounce for ounce, actually contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits.
Red bell peppers are also a great source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system and making you more resilient to illness, they may also help maintain healthy skin and keep your eyes healthy.
Ginger is spicy, pungent and delicious. It has been used for thousands of years in the Asian cuisine and is well know for its many health benefits.
Ginger reduces fevers, soothes sore throats and encourages coughing to remove mucus from the chest. It’s anti-inflammatory chemicals like shagaol and gingerol which give ginger that spicy kick, stimulates blood circulation and opens your sinuses.
Improved circulation means more oxygen is getting to your tissues to help remove toxins and viruses. Research has indicated that ginger can help prevent and treat the flu. Ginger is also extremely helpful for stomach aches, nausea and headaches.
Feeling a little sickly? Try a homemade ginger tea. It is one of the best things you can drink…
Slice some fresh ginger root, place it into a pot with water and bring to a boil. Drop in a bit of lemon juice or cayenne. This will make the tea that much more effective at nourishing and purifying your system.
Which brings us to our next natural immune system booster:
The Cayenne family of hot peppers contains capsicum. This is not only what gives them their spiciness… it’s also a rich source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids which aid your immune system in warding off colds and flus.
It does this by increasing the production of white blood cells. This helps cleanse your cells and tissues of toxins.
Cayenne pepper is also full of beta-carotene and antioxidants that support your immune system and help build healthy mucous membrane tissue, which in turn defends against viruses and bacteria.
Spicy Cayenne peppers raise your body’s temperature to make you sweat. This increases the activity of your immune system. The fresher the pepper, the more effective it is going to be. However, fresher also means spicier… so choose your peppers wisely, especially if you’re not used to eating spicy foods.
When you’re feeling ill try adding organic cayenne powder to some warm water with lemon juice for an intense immune boost.
Squash is another immunity boosting food you may want to eat more frequently. It’s a great source of vitamin C and carotene. The six carotenoids supplied by squash (and other fruits of the gourd family) decrease the risk of various cancers, protect the eyes and skin from the effects of ultraviolet light and defend against heart disease.
One of these carotenoids, alpha carotene, helps slow down the aging process. Butternut squash is the strongest source of these nutrients but you can also try Acorn, Hubbard, Delicata, calabaza and spaghetti squash.
Adding a bit of citrus to your diet can go a long way toward fending off your next cold or flu. Packed with vitamin C, oranges and grapefruits can help increase your body’s resistance and help fend off nasty invaders.
The best way to enjoy citrus fruits is to eat them whole. You can also squeeze them and enjoy them in the form of fresh juice. However, be sure to make it yourself! Stay away from the pre-made stuff in cartons or in the freezer section at your supermarket. These are often loaded with added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
Green tea is a potent source of antioxidants called polyphenols… especially catechins. Studies have found that catechins can destroy the influenza and common cold viruses.
So, when you’re feeling under the weather, try sipping a cup of green tea. It can really help you feel alive again. You can try adding some raw honey or lemon to kick it up a bit.
For centuries people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells. In effect it makes them more aggressive, which is a good thing when you have an infection.
Mushrooms such as Shiitake, Maitake, Chaga and Reishi appear to be the most potent immunity boosters.