Top 5 Immune Boosting Foods

Guide to Choosing the Best Yogurt
March 31, 2020

Top 5 Immune Boosting Foods

Top 5 Immune Boosting Foods 1
Power up Your System with Nature’s Medicine

Keeping your body healthy should be a main priority anytime but is especially important right now. If the majority of your diet is comprised of pastured meats, eggs, organ meats and fish, whole fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and soaked and sprouted whole grains and legumes, then your immune system most likely has the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. But there are certain foods that pack an even greater punch when it comes to immune health. Below is our list of the top 5 (in no particular order).

Liver

Hopefully you are still reading this post despite the fact that liver is the first food on it! Contrary to popular belief, even though the liver does filter out toxins, it does not store those toxins. But it does store many immune system boosting nutrients like Vitamin A, D, E, K, B12, copper and iron. In fact, the liver is so chocked full of nutrients that some societies ate only the organ meats of animals and completely ignored the muscle meat (the complete opposite of the typical American eating patterns). Think you hate liver and there is no way you would add it to your diet? Check out these recipes for delicious ways to sneak liver into your diet.

Fermented Foods

Probiotics help us maintain a healthy immune system in our gut where 80-90% of our immune system is housed. [1] Fermented foods contain billions of probiotic cultures, substantially more than a probiotic supplement. However, this is only when the food is fermented correctly which depends on the brand, something I discussed in a previous blog post on yogurt. But those that are well fermented, provide many health benefits! One study showed that kimchi, a popular Korean spicy cabbage, was effective in fighting SARS and H1n1! Fermented vegetables are also high in Vitamin C which we know is one of the keys to a healthy immune system. [2,3] You can find fermented cabbage easily in stores (in the form of sauerkraut and kimchi) and may be able to find fermented carrots and other veggies. Farmhouse cultures, Wildbrine and Bubbies are some good brands. Kefir and yogurt are also choices for those that can’t tolerate dairy. Kombucha is a popular fermented tea beverage that can also provide some good probiotic cultures.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna contain Vitamin A, Vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids making them another nutritional powerhouse. Vitamin A, as mentioned above, has a critical role in enhancing immune function. [4] Vitamin D modulates the immune response and a deficiency in vitamin D makes you more prone to infection. [5] Omega 3’s promote many immune functions in the body. [6] These fatty fish are a great addition since they add all three of these things in 1 food.

Garlic

Research has shown that garlic “appears to enhance the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils, by mechanisms including modulation of cytokine secretion, immunoglobulin production, phagocytosis, and macrophage activation.” [7] I guess any compound that can fend off the undead must have pretty amazing properties (:

Garlic enhances the flavor of most foods so just add some minced garlic to any savory meal and enjoy the fact that you made your food taste better and your immune system happy too!

Cruciferous Veggies

High in vitamin C and glutathione, cruciferous vegetables pack a heavy nutritional punch. Glutathione is one of the body’s most potent antioxidants and is essential for immune function. [8, 9] Glutathione is a very delicate molecule and easily destroyed by the cooking process so eating these veggies raw as well as cooked is a good idea. Vegetables included in this category include brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, kale, collard greens, turnips, bok choy, radish and swiss chard. Here’s a fun recipe for a cruciferous crunch salad. This a great roasted cruciferous vegetable recipe.

  1. Yan F, Polk DB. Probiotics and immune health. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011;27(6):496–501. doi:10.1097/MOG.0b013e32834baa4d
  2. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. Published 2017 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
  3. Wintergerst E, S, Maggini S, Hornig D, H: Immune-Enhancing Role of Vitamin C
  4. Huang Z, Liu Y, Qi G, Brand D, Zheng SG. Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. J Clin Med. 2018;7(9):258. Published 2018 Sep 6. doi:10.3390/jcm7090258
  5. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881–886. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
  6. Gutiérrez S, Svahn SL, Johansson ME. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(20):5028. Published 2019 Oct 11. doi:10.3390/ijms20205028
  7. Arreola R, Quintero-Fabián S, López-Roa RI, et al. Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:401630. doi:10.1155/2015/401630
  8. Dröge, Wulf & Breitkreutz, Raoul. (2000). Glutathione and immune function. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 59. 595-600. 10.1017/S0029665100000847.
  9. Ghezzi P. Role of glutathione in immunity and inflammation in the lung. Int J Gen Med. 2011;4:105–113. Published 2011 Jan 25. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S15618
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