We used to call winter ‘flu season’ but it seems like we must worry about a new virus every other month now. Some of us appear to catch a virus every time while others never seem to be affected at all. It’s unlikely that these constantly healthy people are simply not coming into contact with seasonal bugs, so how are they keeping their immune system so strong? How do we boost our immune systems so that we’re less likely be affected by every new illness we encounter?
Fortunately, science has determined that there are certain immunity boosting foods that help us fight illness:
Scientists have been looking at the effects of zinc on our immune systems for decades and have produced some pretty conclusive findings, which is why zinc lozenges are so popular for colds. Taking zinc can help reduce symptoms once you have the flu or cold and there has been evidence that a weaker immune system could be due to a micro-nutrient deficiency, meaning a zinc supplement could be a helpful preventative measure.
Recent studies have even shown that zinc supplements increase immune support for older adults. A zinc deficiency can lead to even more serious problems like blindness, so if you feel you might be susceptible check in with your healthcare provider. You can also try adding immunity boosting foods like zinc-rich foods like pumpkin, squash seeds, or leafy greens such as spinach to your meals just to ensure you’re getting a healthy boost of zinc!
Getting enough folic acid is especially important for pregnant women to avoid fetal heart defects and premature birth but it’s also important for adults to avoid a folic acid deficiency which weakens our immune system and causes of among other symptoms.
Foods that are rich in folic acid include avocados, lentils, dark green veggies, and dried peas, beans, and nuts.
Iron is needed for a number of critical processes in our bodies; transporting and helping to store oxygen for all of our muscles and organs, the production of our red blood cells, and also for significantly reducing our susceptibility to infections and viruses. In fact, one symptom of an iron deficiency is a weakened immune system; it’s become a more widely accepted medical fact that our immune system is impaired when we don’t have enough iron. For your immune system to run at optimal health, ensure you’re getting your recommended intake of iron. You can boost your iron by adding red meat, beans, peas, or fortified cereals to your diet.
Copper helps our body break down the cells walls of unwelcomed bacteria and viruses and like zinc, a deficiency in copper can lead to a weakened immune system. Copper supplements should be taken with caution as digesting more than 10mg a day can lead to serious health problems like kidney failure. A safer alternative could be adding whole foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, lentils, and dark chocolate to your next meal.
Other immunity boosting foods include probiotics, Vitamin A, and folate. Want to more ways to boost your health? Read our article Reishi Mushrooms; The Fungi for Health & Enlightenment.