A healthy man is an attractive man, and any man who’s interested in maintaining his fitness and health needs to be mindful of the foods he eats and how they affect his immune system. There are few things less attractive than a sniffling, grumbling guy, and so keeping a strong, immune system is a definite advantage to anyone, especially when it can be accomplished easily with tasty healthful foods.
High-quality proteins are of critical importance in maintaining a solid immune response, and even a small deficiency in necessary proteins can seriously impact the body’s ability to produce antibodies and other immune cells. A proper balance of vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients is also important and fortunately, you don’t need to be a nutritionist to get it right. Preparing healthful foods does not have to be time-consuming or difficult, nor do healthful foods need to taste like cardboard sprinkled with birdseed.
One of the real benefits of obtaining important nutrients from foods rather than other supplements is that foods contain the proper balances of micro-nutrients while supplements of one kind or another can result in too much of some things and not enough of others, and that imbalance not only does not help, but may actually harm the immune response. Nutrient-dense whole foods are the key to overall health and a strong, active immune system.
That being said, let’s take a look at the top 10 immune boosters, in no particular order.
1. BEANS are rich in B vitamins and when eaten with rice, provide a complete protein. They are nutrient-dense and high in fiber which promotes the health of the gastrointestinal system which is a major player in the immune system’s activity.
2. BERRIES are at the top of any list of “superfoods.” They are packed with potassium and fiber and have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruits. Best of all, they taste great and are versatile enough to use in everything from salads to main courses, desserts and snacks. The darker the berries, like blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, the higher the antioxidant content.
3. WALNUTS are also powerhouse immune boosters that contain vitamins B1, B2, B6, E, folate, and selenium, and, like quinoa, contain all the necessary amino acids. As well as other minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. A little bag with walnuts and berries is a delicious and nutrition-packed afternoon pick-me-up.
4. BROCCOLI along with cauliflower and Brussles sprouts are also high on the superfood list with lots of vitamin C and fiber. In spite of what some former politicians might say, broccoli, in particular, contains certain compounds that have been shown to have anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties, as well as encouraging the repair of DNA in cells. It can be delicious if it’s not cooked into a formless mass, when it really needs only a gentle steaming. It’s especially healthful, like most green vegetables, raw, in a salad with some raw cauliflower and a tasty dressing.
5. FISH is a good source of proteins, is low in bad fats and high in Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D which are really important. A nice salmon steak or halibut steak tossed on the grill just can’t be beat for flavor and nutrition.
6. GARLIC has scientifically documented anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and is a well-known immune system booster that can help reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Just make sure to feed whatever you’re eating to your date too and she’ll never notice.
7. QUINOA (pronounced Keen-Wa) is the very definition of a Super food! It’s an amazing grain (actually, a seed) that is high in fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, and other needed minerals. The most impressive thing about quinoa is that it contains all the amino acids needed to make it a complete protein. Talk about a nutrient dense food! It’s easy to use anywhere you would use rice, orzo, or pasta.
8. DAIRY particularly yogurt with active bacterial cultures and almost any kind of eggs. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt replenish the intestinal flora and support gastrointestinal health and therefore the immune system, and eggs are a low-cost source of high quality proteins.
9. POULTRY AND LEAN MEATS – Chicken, turkey, venison, and buffalo are natural source of necessary proteins and amino acids, and the possibilities for quick and easy preparation are almost endless.
10. FATS AND OILS – Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, as well as nuts and seeds are all healthful fats. Especially olive oil which keeps cholesterol in line.