The spread of diseases has made it more important than ever to look after your immune system and take extra precautions to avoid getting sick. The best ways to take care of your body right now are to exercise and eat right. Exercising and staying active helps flush bacteria from the lungs and increases white blood cell production, which is essential to a healthy immune system. Eating foods rich in vitamins and nutrients combined with regular exercise strengthens your immune system like nothing else. Continue reading to learn about some of the foods you should incorporate into your diet for a strong immune system.
Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, an essential micronutrient. It contributes to the improved health of your immune system by supporting cellular functions in both the innate and adaptive immune system. For example, vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens. It may also enhance differentiation and proliferation of the mega-important immune system superstars: B- and T-cells.
Vitamin C may also increase the production of white blood cells—lymphocytes and phagocytes—that protect the body against infection. In addition, vitamin C supplements may prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, helping to fight free radicals that damage the immune system and keep it from functioning properly.
Vitamin C, however, isn’t the only power player found in citrus fruits. Flavonoids—plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and free-radical scavenging properties—are another ingredient of citrus fruits that give the immune system a boost by helping to reduce inflammation and speed recovery from illness.
Because your body can neither produce nor store vitamin C, it’s important to consume rich sources of vitamin C daily—especially when you are ill and your levels may be depleted. Citrus fruits, for example, are excellent sources, and include oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and clementines. Some other ways of adding some natural vitamin C to your diet include topping a salad with a squeeze of lemon or lime or adding a squeeze of any citrus fruit to a cup of plain water or even tea. All are easy ways to get your daily vitamin C fix.
But, if you’re not a fan of citrus fruits—or if you take certain medications that may adversely interact with citrus fruits or citrus juice—consider taking vitamin C supplements, which are plentiful and easy to find.