Natural Strength: The Best Fruits (And A Few Other Foods) For Better Immune Health
Some women really can have it all: Aside from running the planet’s best candy store and watching over life itself, it turns out Mother Nature also had time to get her medical degree.
And lucky for us, she’s more than generous with her medicinal prowess.
Mother Nature’s Medicine
With the novel coronavirus still in the news, immune health has likely been on everybody’s mind, and infinite articles have appeared online boasting how to better prepare for coming cold and flu seasons.
But the sweet and simple truth is, the boosted bodily function has always been a benefit of eating more fruit.
While it’s not an exact science – and the word of your healthcare practitioner should absolutely come first when it comes to any lifestyle choices – there’s no doubt that eating healthy foods can help build a healthy life.
And when it comes to building up a healthy immune system, some fruits simply work harder than others.
Bonus: Mixing any of these delicious fruits with low-fat yogurt can offer an even greater immune system boost, thanks to the dairy product’s dose of vitamin D and active cultures, which are thought to help ease oncoming cold symptoms.
And because even we here at FruitStand must admit that we can’t eat all fruit, all the time, we’ve included a few classic (non-fruity) medicinal herbs for good measure. Salud!
Everyone knows the importance of vitamin C when it comes to fighting colds – and that’s what these babies are made of! (It practically puts the “c” in citrus.)
The compound works to build up the immune system’s response team, helping the body produce more white blood cells capable of taking down oncoming illnesses.
And eating these fruits is especially important, as the body doesn’t make its own vitamin C supply – relying, instead, entirely on outside sources for the stuff.
From grapefruit, oranges and tangerines to lemons, limes and clementines, there world offers plenty of tangy variety to help pump you up.
When it comes to berries and better immune health, antioxidants are the name of the game.
Like white blood cells, which target viruses and bacteria, antioxidants help rid the body of harmful free-radicals – atoms run amok inside the bloodstream, capable of carving a destructive bodily path.
Nearly all berries offer a particular boost of antioxidants, including strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.
But when it comes to folk remedies, elderberries are an old favorite, said to be especially good at helping ease cold and flu symptoms. And acai berries are the newest “it” fruit, with their deep color marking an abundance of anthocyanins, another effective antioxidant.
The tropical treat is a venerable petri dish of health benefits, with a single mid-sized papaya fruit boasting more than double the daily recommended amount of vitamin C.
The sweet treats are also carriers of compounds like magnesium, which is a big player in producing energy and supporting immune health, as well as the digestive enzyme papain, known for its anti-inflammatory (and pro-immune system) properties.
Like its cousin citrus fruit and the letter C, kiwis are practically sponsored by vitamin K.
The fruit is flooded with the compound, which is famous for its role in a number of physiological functions related to better immune health – particularly when it comes to its role with plasma proteins.
But kiwis are also big vitamin C carriers, as well as packers of nutrients like potassium and folate, making them overall health superstars.
Watermelon is simply one of nature’s wonder fruits, as tasty as it is useful to our bodies.
And one of its most potent – though lesser-known – powers is the presence of the antioxidant glutathione.
The compound is a crucial component of lymphoid cells, helping keep in balance the lymphatic system responsible for ridding the blood of toxins, cellular waste and any potential illness-causing intruders. (Basically, the body’s washing machine.)
The melon hides the most glutathione in the deep red flesh close to its rind.
Another ruby red jewel of immune health is the pomegranate, whose disease-battling powers are only beginning to be fully understood.
The fruit’s juice is a rich source of vitamins C and E, both known for their immune-boosting abilities. And early tests have shown that pomegranate extract may have further cold- and flu-fighting powers, though results are still coming in on just how much help the juice has to offer.
Possibly the original wonder food when it comes to warding off illness, garlic has been prescribed by herbalists and part of old folk remedies for centuries.
But modern-day science has mostly backed up those ancient claims, taking a particular look at how the compound allicin impacts the immune system.
Famous for making garlic smell and taste so picante, the sulfuric component lends its powerful nature to white blood cells in the body, helping them fight diseases more deftly. And a steady diet of garlic has shown in some studies to not only help people get over sickness but prevent them from falling ill in the first place.
Another wonder spice as brilliant as its color, this root-derived powder has long been touted for its anti-inflammatory properties, known to help with everything from Alzheimer’s to arthritis.
It’s mostly thanks to the compound curcumin found within the plant – which is also responsible for turmeric’s beautiful golden hue. And further research into the super spice has shown promise that turmeric may also carry anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, making it particularly immuno-friendly.
Basically, if you have a taste for flavorful food, you’re not only doing right by your taste buds, you’re helping out your whole immune system.
When it comes to ginger, it’s the property gingerol that gives the spice its mystical powers.
A close relative of the capsicum that makes peppers so hot, the spicy compound, when expressed in ginger root, is known as an anti-inflammatory, which not only benefits the immune system but helps with everything from sore throats to nausea to chronic pain.
But thankfully, when it comes to the immune system, it seems like eating well leads to feeling well.