We are all worried about our immune systems right now…and nutrition is a powerful (and enjoyable) way of supporting the body to be as strong as it can be. There are a lot of claims about foods that boost immunity online, but not all of them are backed up by studies.
These 5 food s are supported by evidence to significantly boost your immune system:
- Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil contains amazing bioactives that support your immune system such as oleocanthal, oleic acid and hydroxytyrosol. By substituting other oils or fats in your diet with olive oil, you can increase the amount of T-cells your body produces. T cells are like the soldiers of the immune system. An additional benefit of olive oil is that it reduces inflammation in the body.
Aim to use olive oil instead of butter and other oils.
- White button mushrooms
Button mushrooms contain a special type of fibre which feeds healthy bacteria in your gut. The micro biome then stimulates the immune system to kick into gear and more antibodies are made.
Aim for 100g per day.
- Broccoli sprouts
Broccoli is high in the bioactives sulphoraphanes, but in it’s sprouting form, the amount of sulphoraphanes are 100 fold! Eating these regularly could significantly increase your Natural Killer T cells, which kill off any invaders.
Aim for 50-60g per day.
- Cranberry juice
Drinking Cranberry juice regularly has been shown to increase gamma delta t-cells, a specific type of immune cell that are first on the scene for any invaders that try to gain entry through the mucous membranes (your nose and mouth). We all touch our faces too much throughput the day and if you haven’t just washed your hands, you could unwittingly transfer germs to your nose or mouth.
Drinking cranberry juice also increase the signal sent to your immune system to rally the troops, helping further in mounting a good response to any invaders.
Aim for 400ml per day
The key bioactive in chilli is Capsaicin which activates the immune systems and increases white blood cells and the B cells that produce antibodies.
Aim for 1/5 of a chilli per person to get a good dose. Or more if you can handle it!
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Jeong SC1, Koyyalamudi SR, Pang G. Dietary intake of Agaricus bisporus white button mushroom accelerates salivary immunoglobulin A secretion in healthy volunteers. Nutrition. 2012 May;28(5):527-31. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Nov 23.
Mitra Rozati, Junaidah Barnett, Dayong Wu, Garry Handelman, Edward Saltzman, Thomas Wilson, Lijun Li,Junpeng Wang, Ascensión Marcos, José M. Ordovás, Yu-Chi Lee, Mohsen Meydani, and Simin Nikbin Meydani. Cardio-metabolic and immunological impacts of extra virgin olive oil consumption in overweight and obese older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2015; 12: 28. Published online 2015 Aug 7Meri P Nantz,
Cheryl A Rowe, Catherine Muller, Rebecca Creasy, James Colee, Christina Khoo Susan S Percival Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human γδ-T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study. Nutrition Journal volume 12, Article number: 161 (2013)
Yu R, Park JW, Kurata T, Erickson KL. Modulation of select immune responses by dietary capsaicin.Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1998;68(2):114-9.