7 foods that strengthen your immune system and viral defense

There is no better time than the current “COVID-19” lockdown time to take the strengthening of your immune system seriously. After all, a strong immune system also helps your body defend itself against viruses.

The basis for a healthy immune system is, besides sufficient sleep, stress resistance and an active lifestyle, a balanced diet with sufficient nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Here you will find a list of seven foods that have many healthy properties and help you strengthen your immune system. You will be surprised at some of the information!

Citrus fruits

There is a good reason why many people take vitamin C when they have a cold. One of these reasons is that it strengthens the human immune system.

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, clementines and mandarins are packed full of vitamin C. This vitamin promotes the production of white blood cells, which are very important in fighting infections.

Did you know that vitamin C is also important for the production of L-carnitine? L-carnitine plays a decisive role in energy and fat metabolism. So if you want to lose weight, you should make sure you have a balanced vitamin C budget. Besides vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin and iron are needed for the body’s own production of L-carnitine. This is particularly important to know if you are on a plant-based diet, as red meat contains the most L-carnitine.

Vegetable occurrence of vitamin B6, niacin and iron

  • Vitamin B6: potatoes, avocado and nuts
  • Niacin: mung beans, peanuts and mushrooms
  • Iron: Peas, beans and lentils

Broccoli

Citrus fruits are not the only foods that contain a good amount of vitamin C. Some vegetables, especially broccoli, are also rich in vitamin C and other nutrients such as vitamins A and E. These vegetables are rich in antioxidants and fibre, too.

Other vegetables that have plenty of vitamin C are various types of cabbage (green cabbage, Brussels sprouts), peppers, spinach and tomatoes. In order for broccoli to retain its nutritional value, you should eat it raw, steam it or blanch it. If it is cooked too long, it loses many nutrients (which, by the way, applies to many foods).

Garlic

Garlic is a remarkably versatile plant that is used for cooking in all regions of the world. Moreover, people have known since ancient times that garlic is not only suitable as a spice. The tuber has great health-promoting potential and is therefore also considered a medicinal plant. Garlic has an anti-inflammatory effect, a positive influence on blood values and helps to prevent arteriosclerosis. In addition, the plant is said to be a remedy against bacteria and viruses and to have a soothing effect on respiratory diseases, colds and flu.

Recommendation for the family: it is best to consume it collectively, then the smell won’t bother you either 😉

A good substitute for garlic is the related plant species wild garlic, which has similar ingredients but does not have a lasting effect on body odor.

Ginger

Ginger is another spice that is also considered a health-promoting medicinal plant. Many people only consume it in the form of tea when they are already ill. Ginger should be used much more often in cooking because the plant really has it all: vitamin C, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and other active ingredients. This power mixture has an anti-inflammatory, digestive and metabolism stimulating effect.

Ginger is known to support the treatment of sore throats, joint pain and other inflammation-related diseases. Ginger can also help in the treatment of nausea and chronic pain, as well as helping to lower cholesterol levels.

Yoga fans certainly know the spice, as it is a common ingredient in yoga tea blends. As mentioned above, it stimulates the metabolism and blood circulation and is therefore helpful in removing toxins.

Spinach

Also popular as a healthy ingredient in smoothies and salads, spinach is an effective all-rounder. No wonder, as it contains a large number of minerals (e.g. calcium and magnesium), vitamins (e.g. B vitamins and vitamin C) and protein.

Due to these many ingredients and the antioxidants it contains, spinach thus helps to strengthen the immune system and fight infections. Just like broccoli, spinach contains the most ingredients when eaten raw in a salad. Otherwise, spinach can be used to prepare many delicious dishes. The simple classic recipe for fast cooking: fried egg, potatoes and spinach.

“Super-Power”: Did you know that in 2019 a group of researchers discovered that an ingredient in spinach (“ecdysterone”) can promote performance and strength? A group of test persons received this active ingredient as a dietary supplement in high concentrations over a period of 10 weeks as part of a strength training program. The athletes who took the substance achieved a significantly higher increase in strength than the group of athletes who did not take the substance. (E. Isenmann, G. Ambrosio, J. Joseph, M. Mazzarino, X. De La Torre, P. Zimmer, R. Kazlauskas, C. Goebel, F. Botrè, P. Diel, M. Parr: Ecdysteroids as non-conventional anabolic agent: performance enhancement by ecdysterone supplementation in humans. In: Archives of Toxicology, May 2019).

It’s exciting what spinach can do – isn’t it?

Yoghurt

The healthy ingredients of yoghurt are comparable to those of fresh milk: proteins, vitamins A, B and D as well as calcium and other substances that are helpful to the body in various ways. Yoghurt also has an immune-stimulating effect. However, contrary to what is claimed in many advertising messages, this effect is independent of whether it contains probiotic or traditional yoghurt cultures.

A hearty alternative to natural yoghurt is Greek tzatsiki (prepared from yoghurt, cucumber, olive oil and garlic), known as a refreshing side dish to spicy grilled dishes.

Those who do not consume animal milk products can resort to products made from soy, coconut or lupine milk. These vegan products are produced by the same lactic acid bacteria as yoghurt made from ordinary milk.

Green tea

Those who like green tea can benefit from many healthy properties of this traditional drink. Green tea, unlike black tea, is not fermented, so most of its natural antioxidants are retained. The tea has an anti-inflammatory effect, lowers blood pressure and helps to protect against cardiovascular diseases.

Other important ingredients of green tea are caffeine, the content of which varies depending on the type of tea, flavonoids, which have a strong antioxidant effect, “catechins”, which also support the functions of the immune system, and various vitamins and minerals.

Furthermore, green tea is rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that helps the body fight infections. Depending on production, the amino acids account for up to six percent of the dry matter of the tea leaves.
Green tea is therefore a real “magic potion”!

Conclusion

When you learn about the many active ingredients in food, you realize that nature offers great opportunities for simple health promotion.

The article lists some of the most effective foods, which are very common and available in almost every supermarket. Provided you tolerate these foods well, eating them can enrich your daily diet and help strengthen your immune system.

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