With the right foods you can naturally strengthen your immune system. Learn which foods will help you stay healthy and fit all year round.
These 10 foods strengthen your immune system
We can strengthen our immune system with various vitamins, minerals or trace elements. We show you 10 foods that support you in your supply.
Citrus fruits are super rich in vitamin C. 2 lemons already cover the daily requirement of 100 mg . Good sources of immune-boosting vitamin C also include:
- sea buckthorn juice,
- red bell pepper,
Vitamin C has an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effect and protects your immune cells from harmful substances.
Good to know: Since vitamin C is a team player, it is best to eat as much of it as possible in the form of fresh food. There are many healthy substances in the white skin of citrus fruits. For this reason, don’t peel it so meticulously.
The root is an incredibly effective immune booster. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make it a real all-rounder. Research has shown that ginger can even inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Ginger has also been proven to help with nausea, stomach cramps and digestive problems – gingerols are responsible for the healing properties .
Good to know: It is best to eat ginger as a preventive measure. The natural product is ideal as an ingredient in vegetable curries and Asian soups. Ginger tastes just as good as a tea, simply pour boiling water over a few slices and let it steep for 10 minutes.
Garlic really packs a punch. Even if the aroma is not for everyone, its active ingredients help against a weak immune system: allicin , for example, is able to reduce the risk of infections.
Good to know: According to studies, 2-3 cloves of garlic daily reduce the risk of illness. Garlic becomes more digestible if you heat it briefly.
The bright yellow spice obtained from the ginger plant is known under the name “turmeric”. In Chinese and Indian medicine , turmeric has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years.
Today we know: This is due to the curcumin it contains , which inhibits inflammation and protects the immune system in a natural way. The fever-reducing effect, for example in the case of colds, should also be emphasized.
Good to know: The combination with black pepper increases the bioavailability of turmeric. This indicates how quickly and to what extent a substance is absorbed through the bloodstream.
Since the nutrient miracle was rediscovered in the USA, kale has also been popular here. It is rightly considered the local superfood among the cabbage varieties.
Not only because of its high fiber and chlorophyll content, but also because of its abundance of secondary plant substances (e.g. quercetin) and antioxidants (e.g. lutein) it is considered to be the ideal plant medicine for our immune system. Equally concentrated is beta-carotene, which strengthens cells and mucous membranes, making it difficult for pathogens to penetrate .
Good to know: Long cooking destroys valuable ingredients. It is better if you cook the vegetables gently. Boil briefly in water, then slice and sauté in olive oil.
In herbal medicine, blueberries, also known as blueberries, are considered all-rounders. They contain vitamin A, vitamin E and C. The trio is considered a powerful defense force against both pathogenic viruses and free radicals in the body.
The intense blue color of the fruit is due to the anthocyanins it contains. These bioactive plant pigments are highly effective cell protection and strengthen the immune system. Experiments have shown that the blue berries can also improve brain performance due to their nutrient composition.
Good to know: Grab is the motto for all other berries as well. The defense is also happy about raspberries, strawberries and currants.
Spoon for a good save. That works with a cup of yoghurt every day. Provided it is unsweetened and not heat treated. Optionally also other sour milk products (e.g. curd milk, ayran, drinking yoghurt).
Contained lactic acids contribute significantly to the balance in the intestine. These active microorganisms have awkward names like Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Bifidobacterium bifidum. They are perhaps better known to you under the umbrella term probiotics (Latin Greek for “for life”).
Their strengthening effects on a weak immune system are impressive. 70-80% of the immune cells are active in the intestinal mucosa and are produced here. These include the lymphocytes, which are part of the white blood cells. Antibodies, so-called scavenger cells, are also formed in the intestinal mucosa. These proteins fight off harmful viruses .
Good to know: Foodstuffs fermented with lactic acid, such as sauerkraut or Korean kimchi (fermented Chinese cabbage), also provide a supply of good intestinal dwellers.
Lentils and legumes were quiet for a few years. Vegetarians and vegans have certainly played a large part in the comeback. Because in addition to the building material protein , which is important for muscles, 23 g per 100 g , lentils provide us with the trace element iron, 8 mg per 100 g . In addition, they contain about 3.6 mg of zinc per 100 g . Zinc helps the immune system to form antibodies against pathogens.
The micronutrient is important to protect the body from disease. Without iron , we cannot form red blood cells , which transport oxygen to the cells. Iron deficiency leads to a weakened immune system. A lack of iron makes you feel tired and worn out and makes you more susceptible to infectious diseases.
Good to know: Compared to animal iron (meat), the body cannot utilize the trace element from plants as well. Vitamin C improves absorption. So drink a glass of orange juice with it.
Anyone who likes to nibble on pumpkin seeds or mix cashews, walnuts or almonds in muesli is doing their immune system a big favor. In addition to heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids , nuts and seeds provide you with zinc . A blockbuster for your defense. According to the German Society for Nutrition, the daily requirement is 10 to 15 mg. There are 8 mg in 100 g of pumpkin seeds.
Zinc strengthens your immune system , a deficiency has been shown to increase susceptibility to infections. And that’s not all: Even if you’ve already been hit, zinc activates the formation of antibodies.
Good to know: The body cannot store zinc well, so take in enough every day. Double the amount if you have a cold.
Saltwater fish are always a good catch. Herring, mackerel, tuna and salmon in particular provide valuable omega-3 fatty acids , such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which banishes the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid from the body.
A real stroke of luck for the immune system is also contained selenium .The daily requirement is 70 micrograms. 100 g of herring provides 43 µ g. Numerous studies prove the connection. One thing is certain: a selenium deficiency leads to an increased susceptibility to infections.
Good to know: Since the soil in Germany is low in selenium, plant products contain only very small amounts of the trace element. Vegetarians and vegans are therefore more likely to suffer from a deficiency.
What strengthens the immune system?
Everyone can specifically support their immune system and thus their defenses with the help of vital substances. Vitamins, minerals and trace elements are important contributors to protection against viruses and other pathogens .
The power vitamins are mainly found in vegetables and fruit . For this reason, you should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, as recommended by the German Society for Nutrition.
Top candidates when it comes to defense are berries, herbs, sprouts, and spices .
Important vitamins, minerals and trace elements:
- Vitamin C, A, B12, B6 and D: First and foremost is immune-boosting vitamin C, which is known to prevent infections . But it also helps you get back on your feet quickly in the event of illness. When the immune system weakens, vitamin A, vitamin B12, B6 and vitamin D are also important allies.
- Zinc, selenium and iron: Zinc, selenium and iron are strong for defense. Secondary plant substances, essential oils and pungent substances have proven effective in keeping cold viruses in check .
- Probiotic foods: Science is also increasingly focusing on probiotic foods – yoghurt and kefir create a positive environment in the intestines. The so-called microbiome , which has long been underestimated, plays a prominent role in strengthening the immune system.
Expert tip: “Vitamin D is so important for the immune system because, among other things, it is involved in the formation of antimicrobial antibodies. It also plays a role in the regulation of anti-inflammatory processes. It therefore keeps the enemies of the immune system in check. It is also essential for strong bones and teeth and also involved in healthy muscle metabolism.”
This way you can also strengthen your immune system
In addition to food, a healthy lifestyle can also strengthen your immune system. We have 5 more tips to help your immune system.
Many studies indicate that regular training strengthens the immune system. Sport stimulates the immune system via stimuli and makes it more effective. The body releases more messenger substances. Together with adrenaline, defense cells are mobilized and inflammation is fought. The WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise per week .
When we sleep, numerous regeneration processes take place in the body. Immunologists are convinced that lack of sleep damages the immune system and promotes inflammatory processes. Pittsburgh researchers showed that lack of sleep can lead to colds. People who slept less than 7 hours were three times more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 8 hours.
Psychological factors undoubtedly influence our health. If we come under pressure, the immune cells are restricted . This shows the phenomenon that after a stressful week at work, many lie flat at the weekend. One speaks of the “open window phenomenon”. Relaxation methods like yoga can help.
Wash your hands
Thorough hand hygiene is more important than ever. Because more than 80% of all viruses get from the hands to the face and from there via the mucous membranes finally into the body. Therefore: Wash your hands regularly with soap for 20 seconds.
Good dental care
It sounds absurd at first, but healthy teeth and gums make an important contribution to a strong body defense. In the case of pronounced periodontitis, i.e. inflammation of the gums, bacteria enter the bloodstream and weaken the immune system in the long term. Careful oral hygiene, i.e. regular tooth brushing and a check-up at the dentist every six months, are advisable.
That weakens the immune system
Cigarettes not only damage your lungs, but also permanently weaken the immune system. Nicotine acts like a cytotoxin . Every cigarette you smoke less is a gift for your health.
From time to time a glass of wine or beer with the meal is allowed. But frequent and regular alcohol consumption weakens the immune system.