One of the most important steps you can take to maintain good health is to eat a healthy diet loaded with nutrients that will fortify your immune system. Various foods contain nutrients that help keep your immune system healthy and ready to fend off illness. The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is a system, not a single entity. For the immune system to function well, it requires balance and harmony. There have been improvements in treatments for eradicating cancer from the body. However, there are also ways to lower the chance of getting cancer whatsoever. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risks, but your diet can make a difference too.
The first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Attempting to boost the cells of your immune system is especially complicated because there are so many different kinds of cells in the immune system that respond to so many other microbes in so many ways. Healthy immune systems need good, regular nourishment. Deficiencies in nutrients and minerals can contribute to a less effective immune system. Eating healthy can help your body to fight off horrible diseases, even one as virulent as cancer. Here are 40 of the best cancer-fighting foods on the market that you should start including in your diet. These foods are also healthy for you in general and readily available.
40. Carrots are a healthy snack option.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is said to be good for your eyesight. However, more recent studies have shown that having carrots regularly reduces the risks of certain types of cancers. Did you know there are also variations of carrots that are yellow? Incorporate some carrots into your meals or just have carrot sticks as a healthy snack when your feeling hunger pains between meals. You can also enjoy them in soups and chicken pot pies, even though the raw version is a bit healthier. Remember not to eat too many daily as vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it takes longer to leave the body. To strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off infections, try adding carrot juice to your daily diet, and maintain your physical health.
Beans, beans! They’re good for your heart, among other things. High in fiber, beans come in many shapes, forms, and varieties. It’s because they’re so rich in fiber that they help to prevent colorectal tumors from forming. In fact, one study showed that after rats were feed beans and then induced with colon cancer cells, they were less likely to develop cancer by 75%. That’s definitely not something to turn your nose up at, even if beans do tend to make people a bit gassy. Bean soups are a great way to include them in your diet or making bean dips regularly.
Besides veggies and beans, several healthy fruits can help fight cancer. The great thing about berries is that they can be added to just about anything. Yogurt, waffles, pies — oh my! The possibilities are endless. That is a good thing because berries of all kinds are rich in antioxidants responsible for preventing many forms of cancer. Include a serving or two of berries in your meals at least once a day to inhibit the development of cancer cells. Toss them in the blender to make some tasty smoothies or fresh juices if you don’t enjoy eating them whole.
Here is another tasty item on this list that isn’t too difficult to incorporate into your diet. Cinnamon has a wide range of health benefits, including reducing blood sugar and inflammation of the joints and muscles. Cinnamon is an antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial machine that actually fights the pathogens that cause illness. Tests on animals have also shown that it also blocks the spread of cancer cells throughout the body and can lead to the death of the cancer cells altogether. In tumors already developed, cinnamon oil decreased their size and prevented them from spreading. However, there is no evidence to show that cinnamon has the same effect on humans. Cinnamon is also loaded with powerful antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Do you like eating peanuts, cashews, or other types of nuts? Healthy varieties rich in oil are a good source of protein and good for the joints; however, they’re also linked to lowering the risk of certain types of cancer. These cancers include colorectal, pancreatic, and endometrial. Still, other kinds of nuts are protective against other forms of cancer. For example, Brazil nuts are relatively high in selenium, known to help the body fight off lung cancers. Walnuts, on the other hand, have shown to decrease the growth of breast cancer cells. Tumors were reduced by at least 60 percent as well. Nuts also contain vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant to a healthy immune system.
35. Olive oil can be used when preparing your meals.
Olive oil is one of the staples of Mediterranean cuisine and for excellent reasons. Several studies have shown that a daily intake of this oil can protect against cancer. Those in the study who had the highest consumption of olive oil had the lowest risks of developing breast cancer and cancer of the digestive tract. You can cook with it, but don’t resort to frying with it all the time. Add some seasonings to it and drizzle it onto your salads and cooked vegetables. And remember, a little olive oil goes a long way!
34. Fatty fish offers many health benefits for your short and long-term health.
Servings of fatty and oily fish are not only good for your joints and brainpower, but they’re also helpful at keeping cancer away. They’re great for reducing the risk of digestive tract cancer as well as colorectal cancer. Try grilled salmon as opposed to deep-fried cod. Fatty fish also promotes the absorption of vitamin D in the body, which is also known to reduce the risk of cancer. Exchange the meat of at least two meals throughout the week with fish over hamburger or other types of meat to help your body start its fight against cancer. Inflammation is a natural response to infections and damage in your body. Fatty fish contains omega-3s that can help fight inflammation.
33. High in fiber, flaxseed helps to keep your body functioning normally.
In addition to eliminating cancer risk, flaxseed is also high in fiber, keeping the body regular. In women, flaxseed has proven to reduce specific markers of breast cancer, reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. The same can also be said for prostate cancer in men. Although you might not realize it, there are several ways to add this healthy food to your diet. Consider sprinkling it onto your cereal and yogurt. You can also consume flaxseed and not even realize it by making it an ingredient in your baked goods.
Citrus fruits are known to strengthen the protective walls of the cells within the body, thereby making them more robust against the invasion of cancer cells. They’re particularly beneficial against cancers of the upper respiratory tracts and digestive tract. Citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps strengthen the immune system. The red and pink varieties are especially good choices because they are packed with bioflavonoids, which are phytonutrients. Having just a few citrus fruits in your diet each week is enough to minimize your risks for the rest of your life. You can eat fruits raw, squeeze them for juices, dry them in a dehydrator. Top your cereals, waffles, and even pies with them! Just don’t go overboard because they are quite acidic.
As you noticed, many spices and seasonings are incredibly healthy for you. Turmeric is a popular Indian spice that has a lot of beneficial health properties. Its most active ingredient is curcumin, responsible for reducing inflammation and has antioxidant properties that reduce cancer. Curcumin can not only help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage but is also an immune booster. You should have at least ½ to 3 teaspoons of ground turmeric per day, which is actually pretty easy to do. You can add it to any culinary dish, and they even have turmeric tea bags you can add to boiling water to create a beneficial tea. The medicinal properties of turmeric can boost the immune system.
This item is found in almost every cuisine in the world. Garlic is filled with a beneficial compound called allicin, which has been shown to kill off cancer cells. Studies have proven that it reduces stomach cancer in those who consumed allium-rich vegetables regularly. Garlic contains compounds that help the immune system fight germs. The compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some white blood cells in the body when they encounter a virus. Although garlic may give you undesirable breath, it’s still good to include it in your cooking, especially in dishes with meat. Don’t like garlic? Onions, shallots, or leeks contain the same thing, so you can use them instead if you prefer. Just keep some gum or mouth wash nearby if you can’t brush your teeth directly after consuming garlic.
Is it a vegetable? Is it a fruit? It doesn’t matter! Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is the compound responsible for its vibrant red color. However, it’s also what gives these red plants their anti-cancer properties. Tomatoes are pretty good at reducing prostate cancer, whether in raw or cooked form. If you’re not keen on eating salads, then tomato sauce on pasta still does the trick. A serving or two of tomatoes each day is enough to provide your body with the means to help fight off cancer. Also, tomatoes have potassium as well as vitamins B and E. Daily consumption of tomatoes works to increase the proportion of vitamin C in the blood, which inhibits the levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system.
Artichokes are chock-full of silymarin, which is an antioxidant that is used to fight skin cancer. Although they look forbidding, they’re pretty easy to prepare and are also excellent sources of fiber and other minerals. Just peel off the woody outer leaves at the bottom, and cut off both the tops and bottoms. You can steam them for about 45 minutes, boil them, or lightly fry them. Add some vinaigrette for an added extra flavor you’ll enjoy. One of the most popular appetizers is spinach and artichoke dip. Artichokes are also naturally high in polyphenols, which can repair damaged cells that impair your immune function.
Many people turn their noses up at fermented cabbage, but it’s quite rich in antioxidants. This abundance is due to the fermentation process itself, which produces sulforaphane, ITCs (isothiocyanates), and indoles. All three of these help your immune system to fight off cancer. In addition, sauerkraut is an excellent source of immune-boosting probiotics. The probiotics found in sauerkraut can help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, keeping your gut lining healthy. Add it to a sandwich or a stir fry for that boost in flavor. If you’re buying the jarred variety, you might want to rinse it off first as it can have relatively high levels of sodium. If you see some sauerkraut and sausage at your next breakfast buffet or wedding dinner, give it a try.
26. Tea can be consumed in many different flavors and ways.
Tea is beneficial for the mind as well as the body. There are so many different kinds available; some are good for one thing, whereas another flavor is ideal for another ailment. With that being said, did you know that two cups of black tea a day is beneficial for preventing ovarian cancer? That’s because of the presence of flavonoids, which are antioxidants. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hot or cold tea either. That makes tea very versatile for the summer months or when you need a hot drink to warm up during winter. Whether you want to sit in a rocking chair during a sunny afternoon and sip ice-cold tea or wrap up in a cozy blanket and a movie with a hot cup is up to you. Green tea really excels in its levels of EGCG, another powerful antioxidant that has been shown to enhance immune function. Besides, green tea is a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which may help produce germ-fighting compounds in your T cells.
It seems like avocados are everywhere these days! Although more and more people are enjoying guacamole, you’ll want to lean more towards fresh avocado. Slicing it up a raw one and adding it to a salad is a great way to help your body absorb other antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene. Avocados are also a good source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant associated with immune system health. Be wary of the high-fat content of an avocado, however. It consists of “good fats,” as people call them, but overeating can still start to pack on the pounds. Only enjoy this yummy green food on special occasions, like taco Tuesdays.
Bean sprouts are rich in many nutrients. They are another rich source of sulforaphane, which is a rich anti-cancer compound. The sprouts themselves contain 50 times more of this compound than mature beans. Sprouts may help manage your heart health by increasing good cholesterol and reducing your body’s bad cholesterol. Also, sprouted beans tend to contain lower amounts of antinutrients than their un-sprouted counterparts. This makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients during digestion. They’re pretty tasty too. Add this veggie to a salad or garnish your soup with bean sprouts. Chop them up and add them to a tuna salad sandwich for a little extra fiber. You’ll be surprised at all the new ways you can add bean sprouts to every meal.
Not everyone is willing to give up coffee, knowing how bad a caffeine addiction can be. But as long as you’re drinking at least one cup a day, then you’ll be better protected against the risk of cancer. That’s because it reduces the risk of colon cancer, as well as the risk of basal cell carcinoma. Just don’t overload your coffee with too much sugar. As lovely as this can taste, you’ll be giving yourself unnecessary calories; you don’t want to start packing on the pounds. You certainly won’t mind keeping coffee on your grocery list.
This yellow side is one of those summer staples that everyone likes to bring to a barbecue. Some studies have shown that corn contains too much sugar and is generally indigestible by the body. However, many people don’t know that it has a phenolic compound called ferulic acid, which inhibits cancer-causing substances. Corn also contains a variety of B vitamins as well as potassium. The latter mineral supports healthy blood pressure and heart function. If you’re not a fan of corn on the cob, you can mix the kernels into your hamburger patty before tossing it onto the grill. It will add some much-needed flavor, and you’ll be making yourself healthy at the same time. This food is probably one of the easier ones to incorporate into your everyday meals with the family.
Round out your sweet tooth at the end of the day by adding some dates to the menu. They have the highest amounts of polyphenol than any other fruit or vegetable on the market. This notion is because they grow in the desert; the harsh environment forces the date to protect itself against oxidative stress. These polyphenols are good at preventing cancer, and dates are also a rich source of fiber and vitamin B6. Ripe and dried dates are excellent sources of vitamin C, one of the most critical nutrients in our body’s immunity. There are many ways you can consume dates, from baking them in cookies to wrapping them in bacon. You can toss them in a fruit cake or stuff them with goat cheese — take your pick!
We’re not just talking about just the whites or the yolks; we’re talking about the entire egg. Although egg yolks are considered high in cholesterol, they contain a decent amount of vitamin D. This vitamin not only helps with the absorption of calcium, but it also reduces the risks of some cancers and heart disease, and diabetes. Eggs are also a rich source of protein, which can aid in immune-related problems. One or two eggs a day should be okay, as long as you’re watching the rest of your diet throughout the day. Besides, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Instead of having a runny egg yolk to eat, though, a hard-boiled egg on top of a salad is a great way to get your daily amount.
Here is one of those spices that’s not used very often in cooking, but you’re probably going to change your mind about using it after this article. Several studies have shown that ginger can cause ovarian cancer cells to die and reduce inflammation of the colon. Ginger boasts many potent anti-inflammatory compounds, including a variety of antioxidants. It has often been given to treat stomach issues such as bloating and indigestion. When given ginger, the tumors in laboratory animals grew at a much slower rate. So sip on some ginger tea, eat a few pieces of candied ginger a day, or sprinkle some powdered ginger on your mashed sweet potatoes. Not only does it taste yummy, but it is healthy for you, too!
Do you remember when kale was the superfood that everyone was raving about? This leafy green is packed with vitamins and minerals that the human body needs. Thankfully, kale is also rich in indoles, which are compounds that battle cancers resulting from various levels of estrogen. That makes them very beneficial for both men and women who are prone to certain types of cancers. Kale contains high levels of vitamin C, which packs an antioxidant punch and helps fight off infection and regenerate other antioxidants in the body. You can easily add kale to any salad or layer chopped kale on top of a salad. Pour seasoned olive oil over the kale to magnify the flavor of this healthy vegetable.
17. Mushrooms can be consumed in a variety of ways.
White and Portobello mushrooms are especially good sources of selenium, which is an excellent compound in fighting prostate cancer. They’re also rich with complicated chemicals that can reduce breast cancer risk in Korean and Chinese women. Mushrooms are a significant source of the immune system-boosting mineral zinc. People who do not have enough zinc in their diet tend to have fewer white blood cells to help fight off disease, leading to a reduced immune response. Having them stuffed with other ingredients, making a soup, or adding them to a salad are great ways to add some mushrooms to your diet. Even putting them on homemade pizza is better than nothing, so don’t turn up your nose and consider adding this fungus to your daily diet.
Pomegranates are supposed to be incredibly healthy for you. However, they’re such a hassle to eat. Instead of scooping it by hand with a spoon, consider drinking pomegranate juice instead. You’ll wonder why you didn’t think to do it that way sooner! The real fruit juice is rich with antioxidants and reduces the levels of prostate-specific antigen that can lead to prostate cancer. Between the vitamin C and other immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin E, pomegranate juice can prevent illness and fight off infection. For men, you can reduce the risk of an enlarged prostate in the future. Drinking at least 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day can provide you with these essential benefits.
It’s Popeye’s favorite vegetable, and it should be yours too. Spinach is good for you, but why? It has high levels of lutein, which is a compound that is good for your eyes as well as an antioxidant. You need to add this veggie to your grocery list. These leafy greens are also filled with carotenoids responsible for removing free radicals from the body that run the risk of becoming cancer cells. Other green leafy vegetables contain these compounds too, so it’s not a bad idea to include them in your salads and meals more often. Spinach is also rich in vitamin C. Combined with its numerous antioxidant and beta carotene, the immune system’s ability to fight off infections increases. Spinach smoothies are also an option if you are tired of eating them with salads or frying them as a side.
14. Sweet potatoes provide a variety of health benefits.
Just like spinach, sweet potatoes also contain carotenoids that remove free radicals. Carotenoids work by regulating cell growth and repair; it bolsters their functions to fight off diseases and manipulative cancer cells. In a study conducted on women, those who had higher beta-carotene levels in their blood had a 17% less risk of developing certain kinds of breast cancer. So add those sweet potatoes to your meals. Roast them in the oven, boil them, or mash them up. Instead of salty fries, try sweet mashed potatoes! You’ll love the sweetness! Not only that, you’re strengthening your cells while you feast. However, you eat regular potatoes; simply make sweet potato versions instead!
Milk alternatives such as cashew and almond milk are great for those who are lactose-intolerant or who just want to avoid the dangers of cow’s milk, but unless these alternatives are fortified with vitamin D, then they’re not worth it. It would be best if you had vitamin D to help your body fight off infections, and is especially useful against colon and ovarian cancers. Drinking it every day is a great idea. However, if you don’t want to drink it straight every single time, you can add a splash of it to your coffee or tea to reap the same benefits. Likewise, pouring fortified organic milk over cereal is a healthy alternative. You can also blend up in a smoothie with fresh fruit. It’s not as bad as you think!
The “alternative” to broccoli, cauliflower, is being used in more and more vegetarian dishes as replacements for other ingredients, such as rice and potatoes. When cauliflower is broken down, whether it’s chopped or through the digestion process, glucosinolates are broken down to form indoles and isothiocyanates. These latter two compounds are great at preventing breast cancer and cancers of the stomach, liver, lung, and colon. Consider adding more cauliflower to your meals at least once a day. It tastes great, and this veggie is pretty easy to season without it becoming too overpowering. Browse for cauliflower recipes, so you don’t get tired of eating the same thing over and over. You can even make cauliflower pizza — a favorite on the menu of those who like to eat healthily!
11. Elderberry has been medicinally used for centuries to boost immunity.
Here is another fruit that has a multitude of health benefits. For centuries, it has been used as a natural treatment option to fight infections, clear up complexions, and boost immunity. This fruit is loaded with antioxidants and can also be utilized to help fight inflammation. However, it is essential to note that elderberries have to be cooked before they are cooked. Failure to consume them cooked can be toxic and create more health issues. Utilize elderberry to not only boost your current immune system but also to treat a variety of health issues. These health issues can include headaches, high cholesterol, toothaches, and even upper respiratory infections.
10. Raw oysters and oyster extracts contain vital minerals such as zinc and selenium.
A robust immune system is dependent on the availability of nutrients and minerals. Two incredibly essential minerals are zinc and selenium, both of which are found in oysters. They are also an excellent source of protein, vitamins B12 and D, manganese, and iron. Oysters can be eaten raw, steamed, or baked. Zinc is vital in strengthening your immune system by helping white blood cells reproduce more rapidly. Zinc also enhances the actions of antibodies, making them more efficient at warding off infection. Selenium is a potent antioxidant and functions to protect your body. It also aids in regulating blood pressure and minimizing inflammation.
While most people can agree that watermelon tastes good, many individuals are unaware of the many health benefits it contains. Watermelon has more lycopene, the antioxidant linked to a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease, than any other fruit or vegetable. It is also full of vitamins that aid in your body function. Vitamin A is vital for your skin and eye health. Vitamin B6 helps your body break down the protein you eat and is also critical in boosting your immune system and nerve function. The vitamin C in watermelon helps strengthen the immune system and aids in the absorption of iron. Last but not least, watermelon contains potassium that helps lower blood pressure.
8. Yogurt is known to strengthen your immune system.
Consuming yogurt, mainly if it contains probiotics, regularly may strengthen your immune system and reduce your likeliness of contracting an illness. Probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation linked to several health conditions ranging from viral infections to gut disorders. The immune-enhancing properties of yogurt are partly due to its magnesium, selenium, and zinc. These three trace minerals are known for the role they play in immune system health. Further, vitamin D-fortified yogurts may boost immune health even more. When choosing your yogurt the next time, look for labels that say ‘live and active cultures.’
7. Miso is an incredibly nutritious food that boosts immune support.
Although unknown to many, miso is nutritious and linked to various health benefits, including better digestion and a stronger immune system. The traditional Japanese condiment consists of a thick paste made from soybeans fermented with salt and a koji starter. Miso paste can be used to make sauces, spreads, or soup stock. It contains nutrients that may help your immune system function optimally. The probiotics in miso help strengthen your gut flora and, in turn, boost immunity and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. A probiotic-rich diet may help reduce your risk of being sick and help you recover faster from infections.
That small tree-like vegetable that everyone used to hate eating as a kid. “Eat your broccoli, and then you can get dessert,” your parents may have told you at some point. Well, now is a great time to start liking broccoli, as it’s full of sulforaphane. Tests have shown that this compound, when ingested, has reduced the number and size of breast cancer cells and even kills off prostate cancer cells. Also, because broccoli is also high in fiber, keeping you regular reduces colon cancer cells forming. Broccoli contains choline, which helps keep your cells functioning properly and helps support a healthy gastrointestinal barrier. Include just a few sprigs of broccoli in your meals each week to start experiencing the benefits. If you are having a hard time bringing yourself to bite some broccoli, try drizzling some cheese on it.
5. Chicken soup is full of ingredients that aid in boosting your immune system.
Homemade chicken soup is commonly used as a remedy when you are battling a cold. The broth in the chicken soup helps keep you hydrated, and the warm steam from the bowl can assist open airways and clear congestion. Other vegetables in the soup are great natural sources of important vitamins and minerals. Carrots are high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is necessary for nearly all aspects of the immune system to function correctly. Onions are a good source of vitamin C, which is a critical immune-supporting vitamin. Celery provides an excellent fiber source and contains a flavonoid called apigenin, which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties.
A tasty green treat, kiwi is a flavorful superfood that will protect your body and promote good health. Kiwi contains a significant amount of fiber and antioxidants. The super fruit is also packed with a tremendous amount of vitamin C, which is necessary for the immune system’s healthy function. The vitamin C kiwis contain also offers a significant effect against respiratory symptoms associated with asthma. Kiwi is also an excellent source of fiber. It is beneficial for binding and removing toxins from the colon, which helps prevent colon cancer. Fiber also aids in controlling blood sugar levels and can reduce high cholesterol levels.
3. Papayas are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients.
This sweet fruit is full of nutrients and offers many health benefits. The antioxidant nutrients include carotenes, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, and fiber. Together these nutrients promote the overall health of your immune system and also your cardiovascular system. Papayas contain a digestive enzyme, papain, that is used to treat injuries and allergies. The vitamin C and vitamin A, which are made in the body from the beta-carotene in papaya, are critical for the proper function of a healthy immune system. Papaya may be a healthy fruit choice for preventing illnesses such as reoccurring ear infections, colds, and flu.
2. Dark chocolate is comprised of components that can boost your immune system.
Who wouldn’t love to be told that dark chocolate could actually be beneficial for your health? The cacao found in dark chocolate and the cocoa’s phenolic compounds can strengthen your immune system’s defenses and increase your body’s resistance. Dark chocolate contains zinc and has low sugar content. Additionally, resveratrol, a natural antioxidant inside dark chocolate, increases serotonin release, which can increase your body’s resistance. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid in cacao, which is used for suppressing a cough.
1. Kefir is a probiotic-rich drink with many health benefits.
Have you ever heard of this beverage? Kefir is a fermented drink that contains a variety of nutrients, including protein, calcium, and vitamin D. It is made by adding kefir grains to milk. The probiotic cultures in kefir support your gut health and immune system. With most of the cells that make up the immune system located in the gut, it is critical to nourish it with probiotics to help keep it balanced and ready to fight off infection. The gut plays a crucial role in protecting you against pathogens and viruses. Kefir contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures that aid in balancing your gut. Kefir also includes the carbohydrate kefiran, which protects against harmful bacteria.