A strong immune system means that your body is better equipped to fight off infections. Factors such as stress, poor diet, environmental toxins and frequent antibiotic use, all place a huge burden on our bodies and weaken our immune system. So it's important to make sure our immune system is is top condition, to keep as healthy as possible.
The efficiency of our immune system is very closely related to overall diet. White blood cells in the body work to fight bacteria and harmful toxins. However, to perform effectively, these cells need to regenerate in an effort to defend the body from invaders. There are a number of key foods we can consume to feed our white blood cells with the nutrients they need to thrive and these include the following:
- Yoghurt and Sauerkraut - Cultured dairy products like yoghurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut contain 'good' bacteria as well as lactic acid, which are great for regulating the immune system. They help to keep pathogens at bay, guard against infectious illness and aid in the fullest possible digestion of the foods we consume. 80% of immune system is located in the digestive system, and the largest number of good bacteria occur in the small and large intestines.
Look out for 'live' yoghurts or yoghurts that contain 'active cultures', and other fermented products, that are not pasteurized.
- Fresh fruit and Vegetables - Cheap and easy to buy, fresh fruit and vegetables are perfect for boosting your white blood cells. Packed with phytonutrients, the likes of peppers and broccoli strengthen the immune system by rebuilding damaged cells and enhancing new ones. Carrots are full of Beta-carotene which boosts the number of white blood cells in the immune system, as well as T cells. spinach is excellent for boosting the body's immunity from illness, and as well as other leafy foods like kale and collard, it is high in folate, which is vital in preventing DNA and blood vessel damage.
Eating fruit is also essential to fuel a healthy immune system. Naturally detoxifying, fruit contains a number of antioxidants that shield white blood cells from harm.
- garlic - garlic is a fantastic infection deterrent. Containing key anti-virus elements like allicin and ajoene, garlic juice can clear up fungal infections and even disinfect wounds.
A 2001 study found that garlic was effective in preventing the common cold, and allicin-containing garlic supplements were effective in treating infections caused by the hospital superbug, MRSA. They found that taking a daily garlic supplement containing allicin reduced the risk of catching a cold by more than half.
- Shellfish and other Zinc-Rich Foods - shellfish like oysters are crammed with zinc, which can really enhance immunity by helping white blood cells to reproduce more quickly. Zinc also strengthens antibodies, making them more efficient at warding off infection. If oysters aren't to your taste, then other zinc-rich foods include eggs, meat and fish.