If you were wondering how to boost immunity with nutrition, you’ve come to the right place.
Every second, you’re exposed to organisms that can cause disease.
Whether or not you stay healthy depends on the strength of your immune system.
Fortunately, proper nutrition can keep you from getting sick.
Here’s how to strengthen the immune system by eating right:
How Your Immune System Works
The immune system is a network of white blood cells, proteins, and organs that protect the body from harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
Your immune system protects you every day, even when you don’t feel sick.
However, research shows that an under-active immune system can increase the risk of infections, tumors, and disease. (1)
Believe it or not, a strong immune system starts with the gut…
Heal the Gut and Boost Immunity with Nutrition
How is the gut connected to immunity?
As it turns out, the digestive system is the body’s first line of defense against pathogens in food.
In fact, the gut contains billions of microorganisms that strengthen the gut lining.
Moreover, these beneficial gut bacteria make up the “microbiome.”
Actually, you need them to absorb nutrients and protect the body from inflammation and disease.
Surprisingly, the gut lining is only a single cell thick, so it relies on gut bacteria to keep it strong.
As it turns out, the best way to support the gut is with proper nutrition.
Otherwise, a weakened gut lining might allow inflammation to leak into the bloodstream.
Not only that, but healthy gut bacteria produce the majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that’s important for digestion and mental health.
A weak gut lining, or “leaky gut,” can lead to…
Anxiety and depression
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
Unfortunately, the standard western diet is full of inflammatory foods that damage the gut lining, trigger inflammation, and weaken immunity.
Some of the most toxic foods for your immune system include:
Sugar and artificial sweeteners: Eating excess sugar is one of the fastest ways to hurt your immune system. Bad gut bacteria thrive on sugar. As a result, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup can damage the gut lining. That means pastries, condiments, dressings, and candies are all off-limits.
Hydrogenated oils: Vegetable oils like canola, corn, safflower, and soybean oil are pro-inflammatory. Instead, choose cold-pressed coconut and olive oil. Coconut oil is best for high-heat cooking because it is less likely to oxidize and cause inflammation.
Processed foods: As a general rule, if you find it in the frozen aisle or grab it in the drive-thru, it’s probably not good for you. Processed foods contain tons of preservatives and fillers that wreak havoc on digestion and immunity.
4 Foods That Heal the Gut and Boost Immunity
Ultimately, the best way to eat healthier is to prepare meals at home with these immune-boosting foods:
1. Bone Broth
Bone broth is one of the best foods on the planet for healing the gut and strengthening the immune system.
For starters, it’s loaded with collagen, a type of protein used that repairs damaged cells.
Collagen supports mucous membranes, plugs tiny holes in the GI tract, and stops food particles from entering the bloodstream. (2)
Even better, when collagen is digested it turns into gelatin.
Gelatin is a nutrient that helps with food sensitivities.
Plus, it contains amino acids like glycine and arginine that have anti-aging effects.
Not only are they incredible for the immune system, but they can also strengthen the skin, hair, and nails.
2. High-Antioxidant Foods
Antioxidants protect the cells from pathogens, inflammation, and stress.
Ultimately, stocking up on vitamins C, E, and A can help you stay healthy.
Some of the best whole food sources of antioxidants are:
Fruits like oranges, tangerines, and mangos are high in vitamin C, but they’re also high in sugar.
Go for low-sugar options instead!
3. Probiotic-Rich Foods
Although foods that are high in vitamin C get all the hype, probiotic foods might be even more important for immunity.
To start, probiotics are good bacteria that help detoxify the colon, digest nutrients, and fight inflammation. (3)
However, you have to watch out for unhealthy foods that are marketed as “probiotic.”
For example, fermented kombucha drinks are usually loaded with sugar.
Furthermore, cultured yogurt and kefir are in the same boat and in many cases are even worse…
Additionally, dairy products, in general, tend to be pro-inflammatory and both are high in sugar.
Instead, eat more fermented veggies like sauerkraut, kimchi, and gherkin pickles.
These foods are anti-inflammatory, high in probiotics, and low in sugar.
It’s the perfect recipe for supporting immunity with nutrition!
4. High-Fiber Foods
Fiber acts as fuel for good gut bacteria.
As it turns out, healthy gut bacteria live deep in the colon, and only fibrous foods are able to survive that deep.
What are the best sources of fiber to boost immunity with nutrition?
All of these foods are low in sugar and high in dense fiber.
Your gut bacteria (and immune system) will thank you for it!
Life gets hectic, and you don’t always have time to eat a ton of veggies.
Fortunately, there are plenty of supplements to help bridge the gap.
Consequently, here are some of the best supplements to support immunity:
Zinc is one of the most effective immune-boosting minerals. Take it all year long to regulate the immune response.
Vitamin A supports growth and development. At the same time, it fights inflammation and prevents infection.
Vitamin E protects against oxidation and boosts white blood cell production. (4)
Vitamin D3 is synthesized by the skin from sunlight. However, you can also take it as a supplement. It’s especially important for people living in cloudier parts of the world.
Vitamin C is a master antioxidant. It plays a major role in the body’s defenses. Most importantly, getting more vitamin C in your diet is linked to lower rates of respiratory infections. (5)
Vitamin B6 supports immunity by helping the body produce antibodies. (6)