4 Unique Foods to Boost Your Immune System – Backed by Science!

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We’ve all heard that ginger, garlic, oranges, and lemons are good for your immune system. No doubt, they are the traditional, well-known foods that we turn to when we are sick or want to protect ourselves from colds and flus. 

However, did you know that there are other less talked about foods that also have beneficial effects on your immune system? 

Here we present to you 4 lesser-known alternatives to boost your immune system! These are all backed by science, and jam-packed with goodness for your body. We encourage you to try the one that is best for YOU!  

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1) Elderberries

Elderberries are shrubs that grow in the wild and can be found in Canada and other parts of north America. Their appearance is round, small, and dark purple.

They have numerous medicinal health benefits! Elderberries have been used for years to help fight colds, flus and respiratory issues caused by influenza.

How does it work you ask? Well: Elderberries have polyphenols, which are compounds that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that damage cells in the body, and therefore can cause you to become sick (1).

What’s more? Elderberry juice was helpful in fighting against the H1N1 virus in animal studies. It is also known that elderberries regulate the defense mechanism in the healthy human body, and when the human body is fighting off a disease. In addition, the polyphenols in elderberries may also have the ability to repair damage that has already been done to the body (1)!

No doubt, elderberries have a host of benefits for fighting against flus, cold, and boosting your immune system, and may be worth adding to your diet! Depending on how you wish to consume them, there are options:

Whole Elderberries: Frontier Co-op Whole Elderberries

  • Sustainably grown
  • Non-GMO
  • Can be used to make jams, syrups, and pies

Elderberry Tea: Buddha Teas Organic Elderberry Tea

  • Organic
  • Kosher
  • Only natural flavours

Elderberry Extract: Purvita Elderberry Extract

  • 100% pure concentrated elderberry extract
  • No artificial preservatives & no sugar added
  • GMO – Free

Elderberry Syrup: Suro Organic Elderberry Syrup

  • All natural formula & organic
  • No sugar added
  • Shelf live of 4 years

2) Cocoa

Who would have thought! Not only does cocoa taste great, but it can also benefit your immune system. Cocoa is another food that is rich in polyphenols and has anti-inflammatory properties. Flus and colds cause inflammation to different areas of the body such as the throat, lungs, and nasal passage. Studies have shown that cocoa can decrease the inflammation.

What’s more? Cocoa contains flavonoids, which also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Animal studies have shown that cocoa increase B cells in the body. B cells help produce antibodies, which fight against bacteria, viruses or any other foreign substances in the body (2).

Here are some cocoa products that taste good and boost your immune system:

Cocoa Nibs: Viva Naturals Cocoa Nibs

  • Organic & Non-GMO
  • Vegan & gluten-free
  • Can be used in cookies, granola bars, and on salads

Cocoa Powder: Green & Black’s Cocoa Powder

  • Fair trade
  • Organic
  • Can be used in hot milk or in desserts

Cocoa Butter: Eco Ideas Organic Cocoa Butter

  • Certified fair trade & organic
  • 100% pure with no additives & vegan
  • Smooth texture and can be used for desserts and smoothies

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3) Gooseberries

Gooseberry, also known as amla, is another fruit used commonly in traditional medicine. They are round and green in appearance. Gooseberries are known as the most important medicinal plant in India. They help treat the common cold, fever, digestive issues, liver issues and many other conditions (3).

Gooseberries are super beneficial for your immune system because of the antioxidants they possess .In particular, its high concentration of vitamin C (4).

Gooseberry is the second richest natural source of Vitamin C (5). Many cells that are a part of the immune system need vitamin C to perform their tasks. Studies have shown that taking vitamin C during a cold can decrease the length of the cold. Therefore, ingesting gooseberries when you are sick, can help you recover faster!

Here are some different gooseberry products to try:

Gooseberry Juice: Bloom Organic Amla Juice

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • No additives or preservatives

Gooseberry Powder: Organic Traditions Amla Powder

  • Organic
  • Gluten – free & No sugar added
  • Can be added to smoothies, yogurt, and tea

Gooseberry Tablets: Maharishi Ayurveda Amla Berry Tablet

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Sustainably grown

4) Echinacea

While we may not be able to pronounce it, we can still reap its benefits! Echinacea is a herb that has been used by Indigenous groups in North America for years. It is also known as purple cone flower.

Studies have found that it can help treat and prevent the common cold and influenza. Echinacea has been found to be useful when treating upper respiratory tract infections. It has also been shown to treat urinary tract infections and fungal infections.

Animal studies have shown that Echinacea increases the levels of interferon. Interferon are proteins which are released by cells when viruses are detected in the body. This can cause nearby cells to increase their anti-viral defenses.

Echinacea comes in several forms:

Echinacea Tea: Celebration Herbals Echinacea Tea

  • Organic
  • No preservatives
  • Cholrine-free tea bags

Echinacea Extract: New Roots Echinacea Drops

  • Certified organically grown extract

Final Words

We function best when our immune systems are strong. Nature is full of treats that can keep us healthy and protect us from becoming ill. Which one of these lesser-known foods will you try to boost your immune system?

Live Well Nourished.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, at no cost to you. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission. Read our full disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sources 

(3) Baliga, M. S., & Dsouza, J. J. (2011, May). Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21317655

Francisco J., M.-C., Malen, Cristina, Castell, & Margarida. (2013, May 16). The effects of cocoa on the immune system. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2013.00071/full

(5) Goraya, R. K., & Bajwa, U. (2015, December). Enhancing the functional properties and nutritional quality of ice cream with processed amla (Indian gooseberry). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4648887/

Kligler, B. (2003, January 1). Echinacea. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0101/p77.html

(2) Pérez-Cano, F. J., Castellote, C., & Castell, M. (1970, January 1). Cocoa and the Immune System and Proliferative Disorders. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-60761-061-8_25

(4) Rop, O., Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., & Valsikova, M. (2012, August 1). Bioactive content and antioxidant capacity of Cape gooseberry fruit. Retrieved from https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/biol.2012.7.issue-4/s11535-012-0063-y/s11535-012-0063-y.xml

(1) Sidor, A., & Gramza-Michałowska, A. (2014, August 5). Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464614002400

Ströhle, A., & Hahn, A. (2009, February). Vitamin C and immune function. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19263912

Ramaiah, S. (1970, January 1). Pharmacological Importance Of Echinacea Purpurea. Retrieved from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Pharmacological-Importance-Of-Echinacea-Purpurea-Ramaiah/6bdcf485cd9869030f2e53d8fe8a54a7afeb666a

 

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