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Dr. Li’s Favorite Immune-Boosting Foods

Eating more of your favorite healthy foods is a great way to shore up your resistance

Boosting immunity is mission-critical at the moment. Even if you have not been knowingly exposed to the novel coronavirus, it is imperative that you continue to strengthen your immune system to prepare your body for a time when you may be faced with an exposure. And outside of the pandemic, it is always wise to keep your immune system strong so you can resist diseases ranging from infection to cancer. Luckily, there is one easy step you can take to help shore up your immunity: eating immune-supporting foods. Something Smart LifeBites has explored before in stories like this: 7 Nutrition Tips to Boost your Immune System

Boost your immunity

Nutritional deficiencies can weaken your immune system. But you can easily add the nutrients that it needs to function properly. In my book Eat to Beat Disease, I outline some of my favorites. Here are a few:

Mushrooms: An edible fungus, mushrooms increase protective antibodies in your saliva to ward off infection. There are immune activating natural chemicals in both the stems and the caps, so make sure you enjoy the entire food.

Don’t forget the stems! All parts of the mushroom can help one ward off infections.

Broccoli Sprouts: Broccoli itself is a super-nutritious food. But sprouts as days old broccoli plants contain all the vitamins and minerals in a concentrated food. Sprouts are also full of high amounts of sulforaphane, a natural compound that activates the immune system to fight viruses.

Small and mighty: Broccoli sprouts pack all the nutrients of a mature broccoli plant into a little sprout.

Tomatoes: Once believed to be poisonous, tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C which is crucial for immune function. Tomatoes are integral to so many cuisines. You can eat tomatoes sliced in salads or in sandwiches. You can stuff them with a variety of lentils or beans and herbs and grains for a baked tomato recipe. Or use them as a source for sauces and pastes on pizzas or soups. A quick Google search for tomato recipes pulls up more than 500 million so the options are endless. They’re also at their prime at many farmer’s markets around the country, so it’s a great time to stock up on tomatoes.

Stuffed, roasted tomatoes make for a delicious lunch or dinner meal.

Green Tea: Green Tea contains a natural substance called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies show that EGCG  can help reduce inflammation and help prevent heart and brain disease, among other diseases. Drinking green tea can also help reset your immune system to healthy levels.

Green Tea is known for helping your immune system stave off heart and brain disease.

Start incorporating your favorite immune-supporting foods…

Many of you may already eat these foods and be ahead of the game when it comes to your immune defenses. But eating MORE of the common immune-boosting foods is an easy way to up your resistance to disease.

There are many immune boosting foods in the produce section of the grocery store. If you are trying to limit your trips to the store like I am, you can easily stock up on freeze-dried versions of the good stuff, like applesstrawberries, and mangoes from Crispy Green.

Mangoes, whether fresh or freeze dried, are packed with essential vitamins that can help build your immunity.

Freeze-drying is not a concern when it comes to nutrient preservation. Researchers at Louisiana State University, for example, have studied the immune effects of freeze-dried blueberry powder and determined that people who consumed it had an 88 percent increase in immune cells in their blood.

Utilizing food as medicine to boost immunity in everyday life 

In Eat to Beat Disease, I outline several powerful ways in which food can be used as medicine to prevent and combat numerous critical illnesses. Food is a tool that we can employ every day to improve our health and reduce disease risk – including COVID-19. There are numerous ways in which you can seamlessly incorporate foods in your daily life. You can opt for a nutritious snack, in between meals, or prepare a delicious meal at home utilizing ingredients like guava, tomatoes, or mushrooms. And remember to share your favorite recipes using healthy ingredients with your friends, family, and community. 

Keep in mind that food is only one part of the equation. To fully support the immune system you must also get sufficient sleep, lower stress, and engage in regular physical activity.

 

– Dr. William Li

William W. Li, MD, is a world-renowned physician, scientist, speaker, and author of EAT TO BEAT DISEASE – The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. He is best known for leading the Angiogenesis Foundation. His TED Talk, “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” has garnered more than 11 million views.