With cold and flu season in full swing, it’s more important than ever to make sure your immunity is ready to and primed to support optimal vitality. And a healthy diet packed with immune-friendly foods is one of the best ways to do just that.
Supporting a healthy immune system means making the right lifestyle choices, not just during seasonal challenges, but all year round. In addition to eating the right foods, we also want to find healthy ways to relieve stress, get plenty of quality sleep, stay hydrated with pure filtered water, and choose high quality nutrients and botanicals that can support a healthy, balanced immune response.
Coming up with a list of the best foods for building immunity is a tall task — because of how many incredible and delicious choices there are out there! Here are some flavorful foods that can help improve immunity and pack a powerful punch.
Fermented foods– Whether you’re having sauerkraut, kimchi or organic yogurt, you can’t go wrong adding more fermented foods into your diet. Cultured, fermented foods are rich in probiotics – beneficial microbes that support digestion, immunity, brain health and more.
Berries– Berries tend to have some of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any fruit, and they also contain many different phytochemicals that help to supercharge your immune system. Try to get a variety of organic berries in your diet for more immune boosting power. Blueberry, raspberry, and strawberries are great common choices, as well as more exotic varieties like acai and goji.
Teas– Several studies demonstrate that antioxidant compounds and phytochemicals in green and black teas support the immune system and offer other important benefits.
Turmeric– High in antioxidants and powerful health promoting compounds, turmeric root is easily one of the most important immune supporting spices available. Numerous published studies show the remarkable benefits of this ancient, time honored spice.
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Garlic– Packed with allicin, an ingredient that fights harmful invaders, garlic is a powerful way to support immunity, and it grows during flu season when it’s needed most. Garlic is best when taken raw or lightly cooked in its whole form. Making homemade pesto in a blender with olive oil, raw nuts, fresh basil or cilantro and plenty of garlic is one of the healthiest – and most delicious—ways to reap the benefits.
Onions– High in quercetin and other antioxidant compounds, onions are excellent foods for supporting immunity and helping to control seasonal allergies.
Mushrooms– One of the most overlooked yet important immune modulating foods, beneficial mushrooms are an excellent way to help balance healthy immune function for optimal response.
Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years by herbalists, particularly in traditional Asian health systems. Some of the most delicious beneficial mushrooms to eat whole include shiitake, oyster and maitake.
Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc has been a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980s, with a focus on cancer, immune health, detoxification and mind-body medicine.