8 Best Superfoods for Your Immune System
by Vickie Chin on Mar 28, 2023
When it comes to healthy dietary habits, superfoods are essential for your shopping list.
Superfoods are rich in nutrients that help support your immune system, keeping it functioning properly and protecting your body against illness and infection.
In today’s increasingly health-conscious world, superfoods have become a staple for anyone wanting to improve their natural immunity.
This article takes a look at eight of the best superfoods for boosting your immune system. Plus, we cover several of the key benefits of superfoods, as well as the history of superfoods used as medicinal supplements.
Keep reading to learn which superfoods are great for improving your immune health!
What are Superfoods?
Superfood is a term used in the health and wellness industry — as well as in medical research — to describe foods that are very nutritionally dense.
Though most superfoods are either fruits or vegetables, some lean proteins are included as well. These proteins often come in the form of oily fish, like salmon and mackerel.
As stated, superfoods are incredibly dense with nutrients, such as vitamins and antioxidants. Additionally, when paired together, these foods can help you create better dietary habits and prioritize eating more balanced meals, ultimately helping you get the maximum amount of benefits out of superfoods.
Speaking of benefits, let’s quickly cover three of the top benefits of eating superfoods:
More Energy: When you only eat overly processed foods with high sugar content, your body can end up feeling lethargic throughout the day due to a lack of adequate fuel from food. By contrast, eating a diet comprised of mostly superfoods enables you to enjoy longer-lasting energy from healthier sources, such as oats and berries.
Digestive Health: One key perk of eating superfoods is that these foods can be immensely helpful for improving your digestive health. Since many of these foods are fruits or vegetables, they are often high in dietary fiber — a key nutrient for maintaining a well-functioning digestive system. Moreover, superfoods can also help to fight inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Boosted Immune Function: Last but not least, the ability to boost your immune system’s function is easily one of the top benefits of superfoods. Thanks to vital nutrients like vitamins and antioxidants, superfoods have a lot to contribute to your immune system. By keeping up a regular diet of superfoods, your immune system and health can be greatly improved.
History of Superfoods in Traditional Herbal Medicine
Although the term “superfood” is of western origin, superfoods themselves have a long and rich history of medicinal uses — particularly in eastern cultures that practice traditional herbal medicine more widely.
For example, ginger is a superfood that provides key nutrients, including more than 400 natural compounds that can help with conditions like inflammation. Ginger has steadily grown in popularity in health and wellness circles, particularly for its ability to alleviate stomach pain and nausea.
However, ginger has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years.
In both China and India, ginger has been used as a tonic root for more than 5,000 years, helping to treat a variety of different ailments. Ginger would eventually become a crucial product in global trade, with India exporting massive quantities of the herbal root to the Roman Empire. The growth in popularity of ginger in Europe and the Americas can largely be attributed initially to trade between India and Rome.
Ginger is just one example of many of how superfoods have been used throughout history to help treat illness and promote greater health among various cultures.
8 Superfoods for a Strong Immune System
If your immune system is in need of a boost, adding superfoods to your daily diet can greatly enhance your personal health and wellness. Plus, eating superfoods regularly can ensure you are getting the right dose of your essential nutrients on a daily basis.
Here are eight of the best superfoods for supporting a stronger immune system:
We have already briefly touched on the benefits of ginger, such as its powerful anti-nausea effects.
In terms of improving your immune health, research shows that ginger has both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects, both of which contribute to preventing cancer.
Though more research on the potential anti-cancer effects of ginger is needed, the root is often used as part of natural or at-home remedies for treating the side effects of cancer treatments as well. For example, the stomach-soothing abilities of ginger make it a vital food for patients dealing with post-chemo nausea.
2. Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Holy basil — also called tulsi — is an Indian herb used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
In a 2017 systemic research review, tulsi is named an adaptogen — a type of herb that helps support the body in dealing with and overcoming feelings of stress. Tulsi can help treat the symptoms of stress coming from a variety of sources, from day-to-day stress to more serious forms of stress that stem from anxiety disorders, trauma, and/or injuries.
The research review further states that tulsi can be an effective adaptogen when treating stress resulting from the “psychological, physiological, immunological, and metabolic stresses of modern living.”
Hibiscus is a flowering plant that produces edible flowers, leaves, and fruit. The flowers of the hibiscus plant are often the most widely used part of the plant, serving as both a tea and a culinary herb.
A 2021 research review found that hibiscus extracts possess immunosuppressive capabilities, meaning the extract actually suppresses a person’s immune response. This can be extremely helpful in the treatment of a hyperactive immune system, which often manifests in the form of allergic reactions.
The review further states that hibiscus’s immunosuppressive abilities can also be used to help treat autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions.
4. Moringa Leaf
Moringa leaf comes from the moringa oleifera — a type of Indian tree that is resistant to droughts. Throughout Indian history, this tree’s seed pods and leaves have been used for medicinal purposes.
A 2020 study of the moringa tree found that it has “multiple immune-related effects” that help to directly eliminate pathogens from the body. Furthermore, moringa leaf can also assist in regulating the balance of pro and anti-inflammatory responses in the immune system.
This superfood is even thought to have the potential to cure immune disorders, though further research is needed. Interestingly, the above study reveals that, in some experiments, lower doses of moringa extract had a more effective anti-inflammatory response than higher doses.
5. Chlorella Powder
Chlorella is a type of algae that, when consumed by humans, is often condensed into a powder or pill.
Adding a chlorella powder to your daily supplement regime can be incredibly beneficial, as chlorella possesses several key nutrients, including omega-3s and beta-carotene.
In addition to being a powerful supplement, chlorella may also be useful for combatting the immune system disturbances that can occur due to intense physical training.
One study suggests that the polysaccharides and protein complexes found in chlorella drive the effect of a boosted immune system in athletes.
6. Spirulina Powder
Like chlorella, spirulina is another form of algae often consumed in a powder or pill form.
Spirulina powder comes with a host of health benefits and many essential nutrients such as copper, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. Similarly to chlorella, spirulina is also considered to help improve the immune systems of athletes.
A 2022 study found that after eight weeks of training, a spirulina supplement helped significantly with “the stabilization of the ratio of leukocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and, basophils in elite university athletes.” The study further notes that spirulina supplements show positive effects on rapid-onset allergies and in regulating the immune system.
7. Camu Camu Berry
The camu camu berry comes from the plant of the same name — an evergreen shrub native to the Amazon rainforest. These berries are rich in vitamin C and are considered to have one of the highest levels of vitamin C, even when compared to citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.
According to a 2021 medical journal, camu camu fruit is shown to reduce oxidative stress and produce anti-inflammatory effects — both of which are crucial for a well-functioning immune system. The research further states that camu camu fruit may be a promising treatment and preventative for glucose-induced skin inflammation and other skin disorders.
To finish off our list of the eight best superfoods for improving immune function, we have blueberries.
Blueberries are an iconic superfood due to the high levels of antioxidants and soluble fiber found in the berries. One of the biggest benefits of blueberries that is supported by scientific evidence is the improvement of anti-inflammatory biomarkers.
Additionally, blueberries can help mitigate the risk of diseases and certain health conditions.
As you work to improve your diet and incorporate more superfoods into your daily meals, superfood supplements can be incredibly helpful for achieving the health effects you want with greater ease.
Check out the Organic Traditions online shop today to find the perfect superfood supplement for you.