5 Foods to Strengthen Your Immune System

An optimally functioning immune system needs access to many micronutrients and  omega-3 fats. What’s more, a healthy dose of “friendly” bacteria goes a long way to supporting immunity and keeping you free of disease for longer. Here are important foods to help build immunity from our book Eat Better, Live Longer.

1

Mushrooms

Most mushrooms contain good amounts of copper, a deficiency of which is associated with low levels of white blood cells, potentially increasing susceptibility to infection. Mushrooms are also a prebiotic and so provide food for probiotic gut bacteria, keeping the digestive tract healthy and immunity strong.

2

Squashes

Squashes are rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A). Vitamin A promotes the health of the body’s main barriers to the world—skin, eyes, lungs, and urinary and digestive tracts.

3

Yogurt

Eating fermented foods such as yogurt helps to boost “friendly” probiotic bacteria in the gut. About 70 percent of our immunity resides in the digestive system, and the microflora living in the intestines play an important part in keeping it healthy.

4

Oily fish

Omega-3 fats are increasingly thought to benefit the immune system, and oily fish has these in abundance. Low levels of vitamin D (oily fish are rich in this vitamin) have also been linked to autoimmune conditions, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

5

Citrus fruits

These fruits are rich in vitamin C, a vital nutrient for keeping the immune system in tip-top shape. Several immune cells need vitamin C to perform their tasks, including T-cells and phagocytes. Vitamin C also aids the absorption of iron, a nutrient needed for  immunity and wound healing.