Immune System Nutritional Guide
The Immune System is one of the body’s most necessary and important systems; it is through this system that your body is able to combat and defend against harmful illnesses. Like any other system it is essential for you to care for and strengthen it. The best way to do this is by improving the way you eat. Below is a list of some of the best power foods that will contribute to the fortification of your immune system.
Rich in fiber, these legume family members contain important nutrients such as folic acid, iron, and magnesium, These can be a great addition to salads, stews, and soups. Some great examples are garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and black beans.
Choose boneless, skinless chicken breast--remember that organic is key--and free range chicken as this will help serotonin levels. Avoid fried chicken for this will do exactly the opposite.
Choose white meat over dark meat for a good source of lean protein. Stay away from ground turkey that isn’t made with turkey breast as other ground turkey contain undesirable parts.
Choose fish such as salmon, herring, and tilapia to improve Omega-3 fatty acids intake. Remember, choose fish that is labeled as wild-cut as other fish contain unwanted chemicals and hormones that aren’t good for your body
High in protein and low in calories, egg whites contain no fat and make an excellent snack or meal that can keep you satisfied. Remember to always look for organic-free range eggs when shopping.
Fruits and Vegetables
These colorful fruits are full of many antioxidants including vitamin C, which helps stimulate the immune system. Grapefruit, tangerines, and clementines are among many of the diverse fruit in this family.
Berries are rich in antioxidants as well as antibacterial agents that help the body fight off harmful illnesses. Try cranberries, blackberries, blueberries or blackcurrants and raspberries to add variety to your berry intake.
Known for its high antioxidant content, this fruit is one of the best foods to include in your daily consumption as it helps strengthen the immune system and contains other beneficial health benefits.
Pomegranates are an excellent source of Punicalagin, which gives it its antioxidant benefits.
This powerhouse of a fruit is full of many nutrients that aid in the strengthening of the immune system. These nutrients include beta carotene, vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. Pineapple is also best known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
This fruit is a great source of vitamins A, B,C, and E as well as bioflavonoids, which is an antioxidant that helps absorb vitamin C.
Due to its rich content of vitamin A and beta carotene, this fruit makes a simple and easy nutritious snack. Peaches are also an excellent source of dietary fibers and minerals.
This fruit is full of many immune building nutrients including beta carotene, calcium, and potassium as well as vitamins A, B, C.
Although not as commonly eaten, passionfruit is a powerful immune system strengthener due to its high antioxidant content. This fruit can be easily added to smoothies or eaten raw.
The fresh meat of the coconut is rich in dietary fiber and contains properties that help clean out mucus from the throat.
This fruit is full of many vitamins and nutrients as well as fiber that helps lower levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Apples are also known for their antiviral and antibacterial properties making them an excellent immune strengthener.
Full of antioxidants, these purple or green fruits make delicious snacks and additions to meals. (Note: Wine and other alcoholic beverages are not good for the body. Although grapes themselves contain many nutritional benefits, the alcohol in wine creates a negative effect to the body’s overall function--especially to those experiencing chronic stress and other related illnesses.)
Cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon are excellent examples and are good sources of minerals, vitamin C, beta carotene, and folic acid along with compounds that help thin the blood and lower blood pressure. These tasty treats can be added to smoothies, fruit salads, and meals as well as enjoyed raw.
These fruits are a good source of vitamin B6, which is essential for the function of the immune system. Bananas are also rich in Vitamin C and potassium.
These red fruits are full of nutrients such as iron, vitamin E, and vitamin C along with other antioxidants.
Full of many layers, this vegetable contains a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as properties that help fight off infectious illnesses.
Cabbage is full of vitamin K and bioflavonoids, which helps to reduce inflammation as well as the effectiveness of vitamin C. Green, purple, bok choy, and chinese cabbages are some great examples.
Orange and sweet, this vegetable is rich in potassium and fiber, which help in digestion. Carrots are also an excellent source of zinc, beta carotene, and carotenoid, which helps create vitamin A in the body making carrots an excellent way to strengthen the immune system. One of the best ways to get all of the nutritional benefits of carrots is through the daily consumption of freshly juiced organic carrots.
Cauliflower is an excellent source of pantothenic acid, which is an anti-stress nutrient.
Yellow, green, and red bell peppers are rich in vitamin C as well as other nutrients such as carotenoids, which helps fortify the immune system.
Radishes contain many properties that help prevent illness which come from its vitamin and mineral content including the presence of vitamin C, potassium, and iron. This vegetable is also known for its high cellulose and sulfur content.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of Vitamin D and contain many other health benefits, such as lowering blood cholesterol and aiding in stimulating the immune system as well as promoting good eyesight.
As a source of Vitamin C and beta carotene, this vegetable helps to fortify the immune system as well as assists in promoting efficient intestinal function. When eating broccoli, be sure to eat as raw as possible as to gain the most health benefits.
This great vegetable is full of high concentrations of potassium and sodium, which are usually lost in the body when undergoing illnesses. Celery can make a great addition to soups and salads as well as snacks.
Asparagus is rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as fiber--all of these nutrients help contribute to excellent immune system health.
Beets are full of all types of nutritional benefits, including potassium, iron, and folic acid, which helps reduce inflammation and fortify the immune system as well as the beta carotene included in this wonderful vegetable.
Full of silymarin (an antioxidant), which helps your liver process toxins. A good source of fiber. Helps the body purge itself of waste and toxins.
Squash is an excellent source of beta carotene, which helps oxygenate the blood; it also contains many other nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, and carotenoids, which aids in the stimulation of the immune system. This diverse vegetable can be easily added to salads and stir fries. Some great examples are zucchini, butternut squash, and summer squash.
Sweet Potatoes & Yams
Sweet Potatoes and yams are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E along with beta carotene, which all aid the body when undergoing high amounts of stress and chronic illness. These potatoes make excellent snacks and additions to meals.
Dark Leafy Greens
When in the process of strengthening the immune system or overcoming an illness, it is critical to include these vegetables in your eating habits as they contain many beneficial nutrients. These nutrients include, vitamins K, C, and E along with fiber, which helps in digestion; dark leafy greens are great sources of antioxidants. Spinach, kale, collards, chard, and bok choy are all excellent examples.
Whole Grains and Seeds
High in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds is full of vitamins, phytonutrients, and protein. Its health benefits include support to the immune system, excellent cholesterol levels and digestion. When buying, remember to only purchase whole flax seeds and grind them as you go to avoid rancidity.
Whole Grain Wheat
Whole wheat contains fiber along with an assortment of vitamins and minerals. When buying, remember to buy only wheat labeled as whole grain as other wheat do not have the same nutritional benefits.
This grain is packed with amino acids, phosphorous, iron, potassium, and manganese. Its high silica contents also helps promote good blood cholesterol. Millet can make an excellent addition to cereals and desserts.
Kamut is full of many nutrients including--vitamins E, B1, and B2 along with selenium, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc. This can be best found in any local health food store in bulk.
Spelt is a complex carbohydrate, provides energy, and contains fiber.
Rich in rutin (a flavonoid and antioxidant), buckwheat improves blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces hypertension. This can be used as a cereal and can be included in baked goods.
This versatile grain can be added to smoothies and replace breadcrumbs along with making a great breakfast selection. Be sure to stay away from instant flavored oatmeal as these contain large amounts of refined sugar and other added unwanted ingredients. Oats are an excellent choice because they help to regulate blood glucose and insulin levels, making you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Quinoa is a great source of nutrients--calcium, phosphorus, and iron being a part of it as well as vitamin E and most of the vitamins B--it is also contains protein. This versatile seed can replace oats for oatmeal, be served as a salad, and can be added to thicken soups.
Hemp contains protein and can be added to desserts as well as cereal with hemp milk.
Full of monounsaturated fats or “healthy fats”, the avocado has the ability to lower blood cholesterol. *Those taking blood thinners should check with their doctor before eating this fruit as it may conflict with medications.
Flaxseed oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is important for the human body. When shopping for flaxseed oil, remember to choose oil labeled with lignan and is the refrigerated kind.
Rich in healthy fats, olive oil also aids in reducing LDL cholesterol and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol. When buying, be sure to purchase oil labeled as extra virgin-cold pressed as it contains more antioxidants than olive oil not labeled as cold pressed. Be sure to consume in moderation.
Nuts contain healthy fats and protein as well as magnesium and fiber. Be sure to eat unsalted raw nuts which contain no added ingredients. Nuts are also very easy to snack on so be sure to watch consumption as too much is not ideal if you are trying to lose weight. A reasonable amount is a scant handful.
This special oil contains Medium-chain fatty acids which are necessary for our body’s daily functions and has properties that make it able to not produce dangerous trans fatty acids. This can be spread on breads and added to any desserts. For the best health benefits, look for the coconut oil labeled as cold-pressed virgin.
Raw sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are excellent examples as they have a high content of vitamin E and Magnesium, both of which help the immune system--magnesium has also been shown to relax nerve cells.
Coconut water is full of all sorts of minerals including the B vitamins, potassium, and the trace minerals. Those suffering from chronic stress are in special need of this water as many critical vitamins are lost during chronic stress.
Dates are full of all sorts of vitamins and minerals including potassium, iron, and sulfur. Due to the dates’ texture and shape, the best way to add dates to desserts or smoothies is by blending them before adding.
This sweetener comes from the stevia leaf which is naturally sweet. This can be used in any foods or drinks. It is so low on the glycemic index it will not affect blood sugar levels. Remember that a little bit goes a long way with stevia.
This syrup is sweeter than honey but is low GI. Agave works well in baked goods but should also be used in moderation.
While making an excellent tasting sweetener, yacon syrup contains many health benefits including the regulation of blood sugar levels, the lowering of blood pressure, and strengthening of the immune system.
Coconut sugar is full of many nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and iron. This sweetener can be easily substituted in for white sugar--when substituting, substitute on a one to one ratio basis. (ex. 1 tbsp. white sugar= 1 tbsp. coconut sugar)
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