Are You Looking for a Stronger Immune System? Try Adding These 5 Foods

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You have undoubtedly heard the expression "you are what you eat" but you may not have realized how much truth there is behind it. The foods you consume can seriously affect how your body reacts to pathogens and infection. In fact, medical research shows that adding certain foods to your diet can help increase immune response and preserve health.

1. Leafy Greens

There are plenty of reasons why medical experts encourage a plant-based diet for better overall health. For starters, high amounts of fiber can help improve digestion and aid in maintaining a healthy weight. Fiber isn't the whole story, however. All of those vegetables are also loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. High levels of antioxidants help slow damage from free radicals and reduce oxidative stress on the body. Spinach, broccoli and beet greens are all loaded with vitamins and nutrients to help you ward off illness. If you aren't a huge vegetable fan, you can still get the benefit of those nutrients by adding a green superfood powder to your regular diet.

2. Spices

While not all spices will help you stay healthy and strong, there is strong evidence that some of them will. Take garlic, for example. Loaded with sulfur-containing compounds like allicin, it helps increase immune response. Garlic may also slow down the hardening of arteries, which leads to better circulation and overall health. Ginger has been shown to reduce inflammation and turmeric's high concentration of curcumin combats infection and inflammation.

3. Yogurt

Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and kimchi can help improve overall health and reduce chronic inflammation. Of them, yogurt tends to be the most affordable and appealing to a wide audience. Not all yogurt is made the same, however. Look for brands that are marked as containing live cultures. These can help increase the diversity of gut flora for a healthier overall immune response. Current data indicates that a large portion of the body's immune response is generated from the digestive tract. So, anything you can do to increase gut health can potentially improve your immune system and help keep you healthy.

4. Shellfish

Seafood is generally accepted as a healthy protein source for most people, but did you also know that many types of shellfish can actually support your immune system health? That is because of their naturally high levels of zinc- an essential nutrient that is responsible for more than 100 chemical reactions within your body. Oysters are the most nutrient-dense shellfish, but crab, lobster and muscles are also great sources of zinc. Keep in mind that too much of a good thing can actually be dangerous. Zinc overdose can lead to serious symptoms, and it may actually compromise your immune system's ability to function properly.

5. Citrus Fruits

Vitamin C has been used to ward off illness and help ease cold symptoms for years, and citrus fruits are an excellent source of this nutrient. Try to maintain some variety in the fruits you choose, as oranges, lemons, tangerines, clementines, limes and grapefruits are all excellent sources of vitamin C.

What you eat matters. Try incorporating a range of healthy fruits, vegetables, shellfish and fermented foods into your regular diet to support immune function and maintain your health.

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