A number of foods have been found to benefit the immune system.
One category of foods those that may reduce inflammation in the body, which helps to improve the health of the immune system. Anti-inflammatory foods may help to to prevent disease and/or reduce symptoms in those who are suffering from certain health issues, such as autoimmune disorders, digestive problems, and even depression and anxiety.
On the flip side, we also know of several foods that tend to trigger inflammation. Thus, avoidance of these foods may help to reduce inflammation and numerous symptoms including allergic reactions and food sensitivities. Elimination of common inflammatory foods may help conditions like asthma, eczema, IBS, and anxiety and may help long term prevention of common chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Another group of foods that can boost the immune system function are those containing compounds known as antioxidants. Oxidative stress is thought to be a major cause of aging and is triggered by factors including the wear and tear on our bodies as a result of stress, toxins in the environment, unhealthy foods we eat, and exposure to cigarette smoke and alcohol. Antioxidants combat oxidative stress and can improve overall health and promote healthy aging. Some antioxidants are so powerful, they have even been associated with prevention of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating more anti-inflammatory foods while cutting back on inflammatory ones, and adding delicious antioxidants to your diet, is an excellent way to boost your immune system, reduce the effects of aging, and prevent disease.
So, which are the best foods to eat, which are the best to avoid, and which foods are the best sources of antioxidants?
10 Foods for Reducing Inflammation
1. Salmon and other fatty fish with omega-3 fatty acids
2. Green tea
3. Extra virgin olive oil
5. Dark chocolate and cocoa
9. Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and bok choy
10 Foods to Avoid to Reduce Inflammation
2. Fast Food
3. Standard Cooking Oils (including canola, soy, corn, peanut, and vegetable oil)
4. Trans fats (such as margarine and shortening)
5. Red Meat
6. Processed meats/cold cuts
7. Refined Carbohydrates (including white bread, pasta, white rice, crackers, flour tortillas, biscuits, etc)
8. Artificial Sweeteners and Flavorings, such as aspartame, saccharin, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
10. Dairy Products
It may seem overwhelming at first to make changes to your diet, especially if many of your favorites are on the foods to avoid list.
Fortunately, a little effort can go a long way towards improving your immune system if you make healthy substitutions.
For example, if you love sweet, sugary foods, use more fruit to curb your cravings. Blueberries and raspberries can be eaten fresh or cooked as part of a healthy dessert.
In our house, we buy them frozen when they are on sale at the supermarket and eat them frozen in place of ice cream or another more fattening dessert. We add fresh ones to a range of recipes, from fruit salad to interesting sauces.
If you are a meat eater, eating fish for 2 meals a week and beans such as the antioxidant-rich red kidney beans or pintos is easy and tasty, too.
Have fun looking up new recipes and exploring cuisines from around the world. For example, these beans are perfect for Mexican or Tex-Mex cookery. Many of the foods on the anti-inflammatory list are ideal for Chinese or Indian recipes.
Use these three lists to boost your immune system and see how you can eat better than ever while fighting disease.