We’ve all heard that eating chicken soup and drinking hot tea when sick is a good idea, but what about preventing illness before it strikes? While no one food can protect us from all viruses, infections, or diseases, eating a healthy diet that contains minerals and vitamins will support the body’s natural defenses by shoring up the immune system.
A robust immune system plays a decisive role in keeping us healthy because the immune system consists of body tissue, cells, proteins, and organs. The system fights and contrasts pathogens, such as bacteria or viruses, that cause disease and infection. When the immune system detects a pathogen, it triggers the release of antibodies as a response. These antibodies attach themselves to the pathogens’ antigens and destroy them.
Scientific research holds that including specific foods in a healthy diet will boost a person’s immune system, thus strengthening a body’s defenses.
Which Surprising Foods Can Strengthen the Body’s Defenses?
A well-balanced, healthy diet has a crucial role in our well-being. Here are five foods that are not only delicious but can strengthen your immune system and bodily defenses during culinary enjoyment.
1. Healthy Proteins
The NIH (National Institute of Health) points to zinc as working with protein to fortify the immune system. Zinc is found in numerous proteins, including meats and seafood, and is crucial to the functioning of immune cells and white blood cells. Whether you are a devoted lean meat eater, a vegetarian, or a vegan, healthy protein can be consumed.
Fatty fish, such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna, and herring, also contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Poultry, whether chicken or turkey, is high in vitamin B6 levels, which is essential for many bodily chemical reactions and the formation of red blood cells. Healthy protein is vital in kids’ diets for the immune system and proper development. Have trouble getting your children to eat protein? Children’s protein powder can be added as a supplement or even as a delicious treat in the form of a smoothie to ensure the recommended daily amount is consumed.
Long hailed as promoting gut health because it is rich in probiotics, dairy-based yogurt may also contribute to your body’s defenses. Research indicates that the microbiome in your digestive tract is directly connected to the immune system and that they collaborate to strengthen your immune system’s response and protect against pathogens.
The one thing to be aware of when making yogurt a permanent part of your diet is how much sugar it contains. Also, look for yogurt that contains active, live cultures. Greek yogurt is a great option. Yogurt can be incorporated into numerous recipes, from baked goods to salad dressings, so there is no reason not to benefit from including it on your menu.
3. Dark Chocolate
An efficacious immune system function depends on numerous minerals, vitamins, antibodies, macrophages, lymphocytes, and more to protect the body from potential invaders like viruses. Magnesium is an essential component for these individual components and how they function. Studies have shown that magnesium aids lymphocytes in connecting with invaders so the body can expel them and protect antibodies from becoming impaired.
While a variety of foods are sources of magnesium, including spinach, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, and avocados, a sweet treat with magnesium is dark chocolate containing 70% to 85% cocoa. This kind of chocolate holds approximately 65 milligrams of magnesium in every ounce, making an ounce of dark chocolate a tasty source of this essential nutrient. Just watch how much you eat if you’re counting calories.
Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, an antioxidant thought to protect body cells from free radicals that can damage and may play a significant role in diseases.
Garlic has long been used to flavor food dishes but has also been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Historically used to treat infections, it is also thought to slow artery hardening and contrast high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Garlic has also been shown to boost the immune system and some white blood cells.
For nut lovers, almonds are packed with healthy fats and the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, which is vital for a healthy immune system and bodily defenses. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that requires fats to be appropriately absorbed, making almonds a tasty option. A half-cup of almonds will furnish the daily 15 mg of vitamin E recommended for adults and the necessary fats for proper absorption. These flavorful snacks also contain magnesium for lowering blood pressure, and research suggests that almonds can reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Talk about healthy!
Food plays a leading role in our health as it can provide the proper nutrients for a robust, well-functioning immune system. Diet alone is not enough to keep us healthy. Still, it is, together with exercise, weight control, and the avoidance of alcohol and smoking, one of the principal tools for strengthening body defenses.