Are you in your thirties and forties and starting to feel the effects of aging? Maybe you’re gaining some weight, struggling with energy and memory, and seeing some wrinkles. Well, these are telltale symptoms of inflammation because of a weakened immune system. But it really doesn’t have to be that way. If you give your body the right inflammation-fighting foods, you can help your immune system heal. My name is Dr. Liu, and I’m an infectious disease physician.
Here are my top 10 foods to boost your immunity and reduce your inflammation:
1. Eat Berries to Repair Skin, Boost Memory and Energy
The easiest immunity-boosting foods to start with are fruits like blackberries, red grapes and elderberries. Eating berries will help repair your skin, improve your memory and increase your energy. Berries have unique natural plant chemicals called phytonutrients, such as polyphenols and flavonoids. They also contain minerals, vitamins, fiber and more that together reduce inflammation to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and infectious illnesses. Start with fruits you enjoy and aim to eat them daily. Just one serving of an anti-inflammatory fruit can strengthen immunity to help your body resist disease.
Top Berry Pick #1: Blackberries
Blackberries are my first pick because they’re delicious fresh or frozen. That rich, dark color signifies berries loaded with antioxidants. Studies show blackberries can: Improve muscle recovery Enhance memory Reduce cancer risk Decrease heart disease risk Lower liver inflammation Boost immunity Berries have 10 times more antioxidants than other fruits and veggies, and 50 times more than animal foods!
#2: Red, Purple or Black Grapes
If you can’t find blackberries, blueberries are a good second choice. Otherwise, eat any colorful edible berries you enjoy. Red, purple or black grapes are another excellent pick. Their vibrant color signifies inflammation-quelling and cell-protecting properties. Grapes may also lower cancer and chronic disease risk. Caution: Alcohol erases grapes’ beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants. For max benefits, eat fresh grapes straight off the vine.
Honorable Mention: Elderberries
Studies verify elderberries prevent and reduce respiratory infection symptoms. But you can’t eat them raw – cook ripe elderberries as syrups or teas. Fascinatingly, medieval lore warned raw elderberries could be toxic! So ensure they are fully ripe before enjoying their immune-nourishing goodness.
2. Sprinkle These 3 Immunity-Boosting Spices
Spices add flavor, require no prep work, are extremely portable, and provide a major immune boost for just pennies a serving! The more spices in your diet, the more nutrients and anti-inflammatory benefits. One study added 35 spices to hamburgers, which slashed inflammation from the meat. Here are my top 3 spice picks for immunity: turmeric, ginger, and peppermint.
Turmeric: Natural Anti-Inflammatory Powerhouse
Turmeric is the most scientifically researched spice, with thousands of studies verifying benefits against lung diseases, brain conditions, cancers, toxins and more. I’m convinced you should add turmeric to your daily diet. Enjoy fresh or dried turmeric. Just 1⁄4 teaspoon of powder in hot water provides an immunity boost. Combining with a pinch of black pepper significantly enhances turmeric’s absorption and anti-inflammatory effects.
Ginger: Soothes Digestion, Reduces Nausea
For thousands of years, ginger has been prized for healing properties. It relaxes your gut, eases digestion, and alleviates nausea and pain. It adds a tasty punch to food and drinks. Just an eighth of a teaspoon packs powerful health perks!
Peppermint: Overflowing with Antioxidants
Minty peppermint, fresh or dried, contains the most antioxidants of any common herb. It can enhance immunity, freshen breath, clear congestion, and ease inflamed muscles. No wonder it stars in cough drops and topical creams!
3. Pack Your Diet with Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like kale, matcha and spinach make your blood hostile to cancer cells, slash inflammation, boost cardiovascular and immune health, sharpen mental clarity and physical endurance – and contain minimal calories. What better all-around “supplement” exists?
Kale for Cancer Protection
Kale tops the antioxidant-rich cruciferous family. It harbors sulforaphane, which shields cells against disease and elevates antibodies to fend off illness.
Matcha Green Tea: Potent Antioxidant
Perhaps the world’s healthiest drink, green tea’s antioxidants guard DNA integrity. Studies reveal matcha tea helps prevent an array of chronic diseases plus skin cancer when applied topically. Its antiviral properties even battle genital warts! Cold matcha brewing maximizes antioxidant power.
Spinach to Reduce Tumors
Research shows spinach has the greatest anti-tumor abilities compared to lettuces and other greens – likely because of its milder flavor and texture. Be sure to wash spinach thoroughly before eating.
4. Get an Immunity Upgrade with Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a Mother Nature-approved immune booster that reduced respiratory infections in runners and decreased allergy symptoms. Just a spoonful of these tiny flakes adds an anti-inflammatory punch of B vitamins, protein and fiber. Sprinkle on salads, soups and veggies for a dairy-free, immune-nourishing flavor upgrade. Those with Crohn’s disease or hidradenitis suppurativa should avoid nutritional yeast.
Organic or Not?
Organic produce contains fewer pesticides, antibiotics and GMOs that force plants to become more nutritious and chemical-resistant. Indeed, research ties pesticides to neurological issues like Parkinson’s. But eating more fruits and veggies high in protective flavonoids curtails this concern. If organic food strains your budget, rinse produce to remove 50% of pesticides. Using diluted vinegar or salt solutions clears even more. Just rinse again thoroughly before eating.
Start Feeling Your Best with an Immunity Diet
Struggling with low energy and pesky health quirks? Before resigning yourself to “feeling older,” try incorporating more antioxidant and phytonutrient-rich foods into your routine. Focus on berries, spices, leafy greens and nutritional yeast to gift your body the nutrients it needs to boost immunity, slash inflammation and restore vim and vigor for years to come!