In this age of viral and bacterial infections, your immune system needs all the love and care it can get. You can never predict when it will be called into action to protect your body, so it is best to keep your body’s defenses in tip-top fighting shape even when it seems unnecessary.

Science tells us that keeping your body in good shape by means of constant exercise, adequate sleep and avoiding stressors give you an edge when it comes to keeping your immune system primed. Another, tastier, way to treat your immune system right and ensure that it would be willing to go all out in defense of your body is by adding certain special foods to your diet.

Without further ado, here are the top six nutrient-rich foods guaranteed to boost your immune system.

Seafood

It isn’t exactly common knowledge, but certain types of seafood can serve as an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in immune function; they help give your white blood cells an extra boost when they have to fight infections.

In addition to this, seafood like salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel also contain DHA, a molecule that has been linked with improved neural function as well as better immune response. The combination of these two molecules have been demonstrated to exert their effects in as little as a week, giving you a stronger immune system in as little time as possible.

Protein

Contrary to popular belief, not all protein is bad for you. As a matter of fact, researchers have shown that zinc, a material found in oysters, beef and poultry, actually works synergistically with protein compounds to strengthen your immune system.

Researchers go as far as saying that your immune system may simply not work in the absence of zinc, making it necessary that you get your recommended daily 0.8 grams per kg of protein in your diet.

You can choose to get your protein through lean meats, vegetarian alternatives like tofu, or more traditional options like beef and chicken.

Dark Chocolate

We’ve always known that dark chocolate is a decadent treat, but scientists have now discovered that this delicious food actually serves as a treat to more than just your tastebuds. Dark chocolate is packed with magnesium, a molecule that scientists have linked with the proper function of the components of your immune system.

For instance, magnesium helps lymphocytes, a type of cell in your inner system, attach itself to gerns so that it can more efficiently eliminate them.

Although there are other food options that contain magnesium, most notably avocados and spinach, dark chocolate is undoubtedly the tastiest. This means that on your cheat days you can still benefit from the the decadent yet healthy treat that is dark chocolate without feeling too guilty.

Leafy Greens and Citrus

One of the most well-known immune boosting molecules is Vitamin C, and there are no better sources for this compound than leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant, mopping up all the harmful byproducts of the chemical reactions occurring endlessly in your body. It helps combat oxidative stress, a phenomenon known to be responsible for aging, inflammation and even cancer.

The inclusion of proper amounts of leafy greens and citrus fruits has been demonstrated to enhance cell function, and ultimately gives your immune system the stimulation it needs to function optimally. You can get your Vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons or from vegetables like kale and bell peppers.

Remember that Vitamin C does not tolerate heat very well, so it may be necessary to subject your leafy greens to as little heat as possible in order to get the most benefit from them.

Nuts and Seeds

Even before their health benefits became widely known, nuts and seeds have been popular for their ability to pack a punch as a filling meal. While a lot of their health benefits can be attributed to their magnesium content, nuts and seeds also have high amounts of selenium and Vitamin E. These compounds have been demonstrated to play a significant role in the battle against viruses and bacteria.

One reputable study recently showed that one single Brazil nut is sufficient to take care of your daily Selenium requirements. Sunflower seeds and almonds are not far behind, and together they serve as a potent, and calorie dense, snack for the health conscious.

Garlic and Onions

Turns out that the distinctive smell of garlic and onions were actually indicative of their health benefits after all. The smell of garlic comes from its high sulfur content, and when it is crushed it releases a compound known as a living, a potent antiviral agent. Onions on the other hand exert their immune function through a compound known as quercetin, a strong antiviral agent known for its ability to influence histamine function in the body.

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