By: April Carson
Did you know that scientists estimate that each healthy person has between one and two million white blood cells in every milliliter of blood? These are essential to fight infections, foreign substances, cellular damage, and diseases. White blood cells are a key part of our immune system.
So how do healthy foods boost your immune system?
There are many healthy foods that will help you maintain healthy white blood cell levels and overall healthy immune function. Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants is one of the best ways to boost immunity. Some examples include berries, broccoli, spinach, kale and tomatoes. These foods also reduce oxidative stress which slows down aging and reduces risk for cardiovascular disease!
Antioxidants are not the only healthy foods that boost your immune system. Eating healthy unsaturated fats like walnuts, flaxseeds, avocados and olive oil will also help maintain healthy white blood cell levels.
Our immune system is made up of our lymphatic system, thymus gland, tonsils, adenoids, spleen, liver and bone marrow. This means there are many healthy foods that help boost your immune system.
Here are 10 healthy foods that boost your immunity:
1) Garlic - one of the most potent natural antibiotics in the world, garlic has been known for its immune boosting abilities. The sulfur compounds in garlic help react and bind to white blood cells and enhances the function of those cells. With this improved function, healthy cells are able to fight off infections more efficiently.
2) Yogurt - healthy bacteria called probiotics found in yogurt help strengthen the lining of the digestive tract, further protecting the immune system from harmful bacteria and viruses.
3) Vitamin C - healthy vitamin c intake is an essential part of healthy immune function, especially in regards to white blood cells. The body cannot produce this vital nutrient on its own and must get it through diet or supplementation sources. It's important to note that most healthy adults can only take in about 2,000 milligrams of vitamin c at a time.
4) Ginger - ginger is an herb that helps to fight off infections by giving healthy cells the boost they need to function properly. It also contains antiviral properties which help protect healthy cells from being damaged by viruses.
5) Cherries - tart cherries contain anthocyanins and melatonin, key nutrients that help boost healthy white blood cells in the body. Research from Michigan State University showed that healthy adults who drink tart cherry juice twice a day for a week have a significant increase in healthy white blood cells .
6) Apples - healthy immune system foods include apples which contain quercetin, an antioxidant known to help the body fight off free radicals and prevent inflammation. Quercetin also has antiviral and antibacterial properties, helping your immune system stay healthy by fighting off illness-causing bacteria and viruses.
7) Carrots - carrots contain a healthy dose of vitamin A that helps boost the immune system. Vitamin A also helps keep healthy mucus membranes that line important areas such as your respiratory, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems healthy.
8) Lemon - healthy immune system foods include lemons which are rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that boosts immunity by fighting off free radicals. Vitamin C also helps to repair cells damaged by illness or injury.
9) Green Tea - green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that help fight off viruses and bacteria. Green tea is also rich in cancer-fighting polyphenols.
10) Spinach - contains nutrients that help boost the immune system. The B vitamins in spinach also help fight off infections and other illnesses.
Eating these healthy foods for the immune system helps boost the body's natural defenses against bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants that can cause illness.
Don't forget that variety is critical for good nutrition. Even if you eat one of these dishes every day, it won't be enough to fight the flu or other illnesses on its own. To prevent getting too much of a specific vitamin and too little of others, keep an eye on serving sizes and daily intake recommendations.