By adding these nine foods to your diet, your body’s immune system will reap the benefits and help your overall health and wellbeing.
To promote good health and a strong immune system, it’s important to maintain a diet rich in antioxidants. Papaya contains a unique combination of antioxidants including vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help fight the damaging effects of free radicals in the body, reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system1. Papaya pairs beautifully with dishes containing seafood, coconut, passionfruit, and lime.
Kakadu plum is phenomenally high in vitamin C – it contains the most vitamin C of any fruit2. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the body from damage caused by reactive molecules known as free radicals3. It also improves immune function. In fact, research shows not getting enough vitamin C impairs immunity and increases the susceptibility to infections4.
You’ll find Kakadu Plum as one of the ingredients in Kanguru’s Wellness Blend.
Leafy green vegetables like kale, bok choy, and spinach are rich in magnesium, which plays a key role in how the body deals with inflammation. In fact, inadequate intake of magnesium can elevate levels of C-reactive protein, which is a marker of chronic low-grade inflammation5. Chronic inflammation makes it harder for your immune system to do its job, increasing your susceptibility to illness. Boost your intake of leafy greens by adding spinach to a frittata, adding kale to your smoothie, or putting bok choy through your stir-fry.
Atlantic salmon packs a nutritional punch. It’s rich in vitamin B6, vitamin D, and omega-3 fats, all of which are important for keeping your immune system healthy. Vitamin B6 supports the biochemical reactions in the immune system, while vitamin D and omega-3 fats work in supporting a healthy immune system by enhancing the function of immune B cells and reducing inflammation6-7. Enjoy salmon 2-3 times per week.
Packed full of zinc, oysters are one food that will help keep your immune system firing. Zinc manages the elimination of pathogens from the body and certain immune cells need zinc to produce or activate them8. Just 2-3 oysters will give you the recommended daily amount of zinc and keep your immune system happy.
Green tea contains the amino acid, L-theanine. L-theanine may help the body in fighting off illness by boosting the number of regulatory T cells that play a key role in launching an attack against invading pathogens like flu viruses, says research9. L-theanine also helps to make an important cytokine (signaling protein of the immune system) that has powerful antimicrobial properties and is an essential part of the body’s defense against viruses.
Green tea and L-Theanine are core ingredients in Kanguru’s new Wellness Blend.
Ginger is packed with a range of powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a great addition to an immune-boosting diet10. This versatile spice can be used in a range of dishes such as soups, stir-fries, marinades, and desserts.
Your immune system plays a key role in keeping your gut healthy and works to prevent bacteria and other pathogens from entering the bloodstream and making you sick. Yoghurt containing probiotics boost the amounts of healthy bacteria in the gut. The more good bacteria you have, the happier your gut and the better equipped your immune system is to fight off the bad guys11.
If you ever need any excuse to eat dark chocolate, here it is – dark chocolate can strengthen your immune system. Research published in The FASEB Journal found that healthy people who ate 48grams of dark chocolate daily for eight days had an increase in the expression of genes involved in the activation of T cells, which are the white blood cells that fight infection and disease12. Just make sure you choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa if you’re after the benefits.
- Childs C, Calder P & Miles E. Diet and immune function. Nutrients 2019;11(8):1933.
- Williams D, Edwards D et al. Organic acids in Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferinandiana): The good (ellagic), the bad (oxalic) and the uncertain (ascorbic). Food Res Int 2016;89(pt1):237-244.
- Young I and Woodside J. Antioxidants in health and disease. J Clin Pathol 2001;54(3):176-186.
- Carr A and Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients 2017;9(11):1211.
- King D, Mainous A et al. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. J Am Coll Nutr 2005;24(3):166-171.
- Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med 2011;59(6):881-886.
- Gutierrez S, Svahn S and Johansson M. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on immune cells. In J Mol Sci 2019;20(20):5028.
- Prasad A. Zinc in human health: Effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med 2008;14(5-6):353-357.
- Rowe C, Nantz M et al. Specific formulation of Camellia sinensis prevents cold and flu symptoms and enhances gamma, delta T cell function: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2007;26(5):445-452.
- Shokri Mashhadi N, Ghiasvand R et al. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in healthy and physical activity: review of current evidence. Int J Prev Med 2013;4(Suppl 1):S36-S42.
- Frei R, Akdis M et al. Prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics and the immune system: experimental data and clinical evidence. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 2015;31:153-158.
- Berk L, Bruhjell K et al. Dark chocolate (70% cacao) effects human gene expression: cacao regulates cellular immune response, neural signaling and sensory perception. The FASEB Journal 2018;32(S1):