10 Best Pantry Staples to Strengthen Your Immune System
If you're like most Americans, you've been paying extra attention to your immune system—and wondering what you can do to give yours a boost.
While there's no single superfood or supplement that can completely protect you from viruses or the flu, there are ways to give your immunity a real supercharge: Get more sleep. Stay hydrated. Exercise. Wash your hands. And fill your cabinets with immunity-fighting foods—like the 10 on this list.
How do foods strengthen your immune system?
Many of these foods fight inflammation, an immune response in the body that makes tissues, well, inflamed. Your body has to devote its resources to putting out those inflammation fires—which means it can't pay undivided attention to fighting off other attackers, like colds, flu, and other viruses and bacteria. When you reduce inflammation in the body, your body can work better—and your immune system is more ready to fend off threats.
Having a body that's not constantly putting out fires means you'll be stronger—and better able to fight anything that threatens it.
The 10 best immune-boosting foods to buy.
Strengthen your immune system and lower inflammation in your body by loading up your arsenal: Put these 10 immunity fighters on your grocery list. Double down on strengthening your immune system by ridding your diet of the 100 Worst Foods for Cold and Flu.
Extra virgin olive oil does your body good in two ways: this fat source helps you fit better into your jeans by burning belly fat, and it boosts your immunity so you're healthy enough to go out and show 'em off.
EVOO has a high concentration of antioxidants, including vitamin E and phenolic compounds. These antioxidants help reduce cellular damage in the body by stopping inflammation-causing free radicals in their tracks. This tasty oil can also bump up your white blood cell count: A study found that participants who had olive oil daily saw an increase in these virus-fighting cells compared to participants who had other oils.
To reap the most immune-boosting benefits, get a bottle of Wellgrove. It has more antioxidants than other EVOO bottles! That's because the olives are pressed within six hours of being picked to maintain the highest levels of antioxidants, nutrients, and polyphenol power. Enter promo code "EATTHIS25" during checkout for a 25 percent discount using the link below.
Bananas are nature's on-the-go immune boosters! We always recommend Chiquita bananas as a portable source of quick energy since they provide a burst of natural sugar with a blood-sugar stabilizing dose of fiber—all in their own, all-natural packaging.
Although they're famous for their potassium content, bananas have so many more health-boosting nutrients—many of which can strengthen your immune system. These immunity-supporting vitamins and minerals include vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, and copper. Plus, research suggests that the good-for-your-gut prebiotic fiber naturally found in bananas may play a powerful role in helping to reduce stress and provide sounder slumbers, both of which are important in strengthening your immune system. Add a banana to your weight loss smoothie to reap their benefits.
If you want to strengthen immunity while trimming belly fat, go nuts! One serving of Blue Diamond almonds packs in as much protein as an egg, but it brings along belly-filling fiber and disease-fighting monounsaturated fats. These little brown gems also provide Vitamin E with every crunchy bite, which promotes healthy skin and nails. Forget the blanched stuff—almond skin is where the immune-boosting powers lie: Researchers found that chemicals in almond skins increase the body's ability to fight off viruses, like the common cold, even after they've been digested.
So sprinkle some on a salad, pop a handful as a snack, or try another of our favorite ways to enjoy Blue Diamond's almonds: In almond milk! Blue Diamond makes Almond Breeze, which we pour into our smoothies daily.
Sweet, salty, and helps you shrug off sickness? Sounds too good to be true! Energy bars are one of the most popular go-to snacks, but few offer so much satisfaction for your sweet cravings while delivering serious nutrition. This KIND bar is loaded with immunity boosters: The mix of nuts fights inflammation and fends off cell-damaging free radicals with Vitamin E, while an active compound in cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, can help your body fight bacterial and fungal infections.
The Nuts & Spices bar does all this in a dessert-worthy bar that also delivers 5 grams of filling protein, 7 grams of satisfying fiber, and just five grams of sugar. That itty-bitty sugar number helps with your immunity, too: Too much sugar signals your body to send out cytokines, little immunity messengers that create inflammation in our bodies … and inflammation lowers your immune response. So keeping your sugar intake down can keep your immune system up!
This dip gives your immunity—and your fat-burning—a bump. Like many of the immunity-boosters on this list, this hummus is a double-dip, providing benefits for your body's ability to fight disease, and fiber and healthy fats for the battle against the bulge. In fact, for every 10 grams of fiber you eat, you could have as much as 4 percent less fat around your middle.
Every dip of this Sabra pine nut hummus does so much more, though: The healthy fats inside each swipe help your body absorb the immunity-boosting powers of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K. And the pine nuts play a role: They're loaded with zinc, which can help boost your white blood cells to fight against invaders, and magnesium, which also boosts your immunity.
Four Sigmatic Defend Blend Mix
More than 60 percent of Americans drink coffee every day. Turn yours from a morning jolt into an all-day disease-fighter: Mix a spoonful of this Defend Blend into your morning coffee and start feeling the science-backed benefits. Mushrooms have been linked to better concentration and memory, reducing the effects of aging, and beating back inflammation. And a boatload of recent research finds these funky fungi could be key to building a healthy immune system.
Chaga, AKA King of the Medicinal Mushrooms, works wonders for immunity by helping the body promote proteins that regulate inflammation, bacteria and viruses. And when there's a King, there's always a Queen. Meet Queen Healer, more commonly known as the reishi mushroom. Many studies have found that its polysaccharides, antioxidant properties, and beta-glucans can help improve immune function.
The mushrooms may even help your coffee do more for your immunity: Mushrooms have been found to reduce stomach acidity from coffee, which can help reduce sleep disturbance. And healthier sleep means boosted immunity.
Sometimes great things come in small packages: These adorable little bottles are proof. Each certified-organic shot packs an immune-boosting punch—they're packed with ingredients like turmeric, which fights diseases through its main active ingredient, curcumin, and probiotics, which can improve your digestive system's ability to fight off infection and other nasties in your food.
And then there's ginger: This spicy root has been a go-to home remedy for illness for centuries, and science backs up all those years of wisdom. Research suggests that it reduces inflammation in those with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory gut disease and even certain cancers. Ginger also has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties, and one test-tube study found that fresh ginger had antiviral effects against human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), which causes respiratory infections, and helped boost immune response against HRSV. If you don't have time for a cup of ginger tea or a spicy soup, these Suja shots should be in your sickness-fighting arsenal!
It's alive! And that's good: Probiotic bacteria in food make your tummy happy, and bad bacteria very unhappy. By boosting the "good" bacteria in your body, you may be less susceptible to infections and promote the production of disease-fighting antibodies. Studies have found that consuming probiotics makes colds less severe, reduce the severity of allergy symptoms, and can even boost your mood.
While kefir is a runnier, more probiotic-rich dairy product, GT's Living Foods Aqua Kefir is different: It's a bright, slightly fizzy beverage—like kombucha—made by fermenting kefir grains in water. Each bottle contains billions of living probiotics. And the fact that it's fermented gives your immunity an extra boost: Eating lactic acid bacteria—the kind that turns milk into yogurt, cabbage into sauerkraut, and water into aqua kefir—may help signal the immune system to kick into gear.
Age-old wisdom isn't all old hat: Turmeric has been used to treat ulcers, diabetes, allergies, and other ailments for centuries. Science backs up many of those benefits, and more; the main active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to be a potent immunity booster. Turmeric plays a role in the body's activation of T cells and "natural killer cells," and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Rebbl's Golden-Milk is designed to increase the bioavailability of turmeric's main inflammation fighter, curcumin, by adding black pepper. When combined with curcumin, a compound in black pepper has been shown to increase the bioavailability of turmeric's magic ingredient by 2,000 percent. Throw in some anti-bacterial ginger and the allergy-fighting properties of honey, and this Golden-Milk is an immunity powerhouse.
Orange you glad we found some chips that fight infection? Bacteria, beware! The Vitamin A that tinges sweet potatoes orange is what makes this crunchy bag of goodness an immunity-boosting star. A vitamin A deficiency is a double-whammy to your immunity: It reduces the ability of your immune system to respond to potential threats, and it causes inflammation in your gut—which makes you less able to fend off infection.
One bag of these chips is just 150 calories but delivers 4 grams of dietary fiber, which makes them filling and satisfying—and could also give your immunity a little extra oomph. In studies of rodents, those who ate a higher-fiber diet were less likely to get the flu. For more ways to get fiber into your diet, try these 20 Easy Ways to Add Fiber to Your Diet.
Disclaimer: The Nutrition Twins are sponsored by Wellgrove, Chiquita, KIND, Sabra & Blue Diamond. All thoughts and opinions are their own.