Tips & Advice

Top 10 Immune-Boosting Keto Foods

Immune-boosting keto foods seem more important now than ever. Science has shown that there are 10 specific keto-friendly foods that, if you incorporate into your ketogenic lifestyle, will help strengthen your immune system.

Immune-Boosting Keto Foods #1: Brazil nuts

Not only will the selenium in brazil nuts help with testosterone levels, but science shows it can support the immune system. The reason why brazil nuts are so effective in boosting the immune response is that they contain many essential minerals, one of them being selenium. 

A study showed that selenium-deficiency impairs both the innate and adaptive immune system in humans.

(Selenium is also a vital mineral for those with hypothyroidism: selenium deficiency decreases the synthesis of thyroid hormones which are responsible for the conversion of T4 to T3.)

Immune-Boosting Keto Foods #2: Ginger

Ginger is one of the most medicinal spices that can help reduce inflammation and also boost the immune system. Ayurvedic medicine has used ginger since recorded history as a potent anti-inflammatory and to treat a variety of illness through (unknown at the time) boosting the immune system. 

Ginger has been shown to cleanse the lymphatic system and this system is central to our immune response. Ginger also has anti-microbial properties, helping fight infection.

Adding a thumb-tip size of ginger to your keto-smoothie or drinking ginger tea or consuming ginger oil are all convenient ways to get your daily dose of ginger.

Immune-Boosting Keto Foods #3: Lemons and limes

These citrus gems are a great way to boost the immune system but also to support healthy bile production. Bile is produced in the liver and it helps break down fat and remove toxins. Obviously, on a high-fat diet such as keto, this fat-breaking function is vitally important.

Of course, being high in vitamin C, lemons and limes also help boost our innate immune response to colds and flu.

To get your daily dose, simply squeeze a lemon or lime in your water or over your chosen keto meats.

Immune-Boosting Keto Foods #4: Bone broth

What is bone broth? Bone broth is a liquid containing brewed bones and connective tissues. The bones and tissues of many types of animal may make good bone broth. To make bone broth, you simmer the bones of cows, pigs chicken or even fish bones with some vinegar (to help release nutrients from the bone marrow) and flavours to taste. 

Bone broth contains important nutrients, especially minerals, derived from these tissues. This may make bone broth a beneficial dietary supplement for many people.

There are many benefits associated with bone broth:

  • it’s highly nutritious (containing iron, vitamins A and K, fatty acids, selenium, zinc and manganese)
  • rich in collagen which contributes to more youthful skin
  • aids digestion as well as being easily digested
  • combats osteoporosis, protects joints
  • may help reduce inflammation and heal the gut
  • aid sleep
  • supports weight loss – bone broth is full of flavour, fats and a richness which are all satiating without taking on board a large volume of food

Immune-Boosting Keto Foods #5: Garlic

Garlic, like ginger, has been used for millennia for its healing properties. Garlic has been shown to reduce inflammation, support your immune system and fight infection. Heck, it even wards off vampires.

Garlic contains compounds that help the immune system fight germs, in particular a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin (with a c), the main active ingredient in garlic (and what gives garlic its distinctive smell and taste).

However, allicin is unstable, so it quickly converts to other sulphur-containing compounds thought to give garlic its medicinal properties.

These compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses, such as the viruses that cause the common cold or flu.

Garlic has shown promise as a treatment for preventing colds and the flu.

Studies have shown that garlic reduces the risk of becoming sick in the first place, as well as how long you stay sick. It can also reduce the severity of symptoms.

One study gave 146 healthy volunteers either garlic supplements or a placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold, and their colds were also 70% shorter.

Another study found that colds were on average 61% shorter for subjects who ate 2.56 grams of aged garlic extract per day, compared to a placebo group. Their colds were also less severe.

If you often get sick with a cold or flu, eating garlic can help reduce your symptoms or prevent your illness entirely.

An easy way to boost your garlic intake is to add it to your oil when sautéing vegetables and to sauces. Be sure to crush garlic before eating it – this releases the immune-boosting allicin content.

Immune-Boosting Keto Foods #6: Onions

Onions are so versatile that you can add them to practically any savour dish. And, like garlic, they are great for reducing inflammation, fighting infection and supporting the immune system. 

Onions have certain phytochemicals that act as stimulants for vitamin C within the body. Vitamin C boosts your immune system by fighting against toxins that can lead to numerous diseases and chronic illness. Onions are packed with immune-boosting nutrients like selenium, sulfur compounds, zinc, and vitamin C. In addition, they are one of the best sources of quercetin, a potent flavonoid, and antioxidant that has antiviral properties as well as histamine regulating effects. 

#7: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar assists with bile production and has powerful anti-bacterial properties against some resistant strains of bacteria, has anti-viral properties and provides antioxidant effects.

Apple cider vinegar contains a substance called “must.” Must is the bits and pieces of the apple that are fermenting in its cloudy juice. The must is what holds the “mother,” which is a colony of bacteria that work as probiotics when you consume them. Probiotics were shown in 2011 to have an immune-boosting effect, which might be why drinking apple cider vinegar can shorten the duration of a cold.

The acid in apple cider vinegar thins out mucous in the throat. This helps the mucous to move out of your respiratory system more quickly. Loosening phlegm can help you feel like you’re on the way to recovery. There’s also some reason to believe that the acid in apple cider vinegar can work to kill pathogens that are making you sick.

Apple cider vinegar is rich in the same nutrients that you would find in apples, too. Potassium, vitamin C, antioxidants, and vitamin E are just part of the nutritional components in apples. 

Many people find the taste of apple cider vinegar revolting. If you’re one of them, you can always dilute it in plenty of water or take it in capsule form.

#8: Olive oil

Do you know how to test the quality of olive oil? Take a sip. If it burns and stings your throat, congratulations – it’s a good oil. The sting means the olive oil is loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants. (One study showed compelling evidence that olive polyphenols are potential candidates to combat chronic inflammation). If on the other hand it tastes smooth, that’s a cheap, oxidised olive oil.

Olive oil has a wide-range of health-enhancing benefits including:

  • High in antioxidants which have anti-cancer properties
  • Strong anti-inflammatory properties
  • May help prevent strokes and protect against heart disease
  • Can help treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • May fight Alzheimer’s disease
  • Has antibacterial properties
  • May reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes

#9: Mushrooms

One study showed that mushrooms boost immunity. The 2011 study gave 52 healthy adults, age 21 to 41 a four-week supply of dry shiitake mushrooms. Participants took the mushrooms home, cleaned and cooked them. Then they ate one, 4-ounce serving of mushrooms each day during the experiment.

Through blood tests before and after the experiment, researchers saw better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and reductions in inflammatory proteins.

“If you eat a shiitake mushroom every day, you could see changes in their immune system that are beneficial,” said Prof. Sue Percival who led the study. “We’re enhancing the immune system, but we’re also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces.”

Shiitake are of course not the only mushrooms and other mushrooms appear to have similar immune-boosting effects, e.g. reishi, chaga and turkey tail. Mushrooms are versatile – you can cook with them, some people eat them raw and others add them to a tea.

#10: Green tea

Green tea is high in polyphenols. Polyphenols, potent plant antioxidants, are what’s believed to give green tea its immune-boosting effects. One laboratory study suggested that a particular type of polyphenols called catechins may kill influenza viruses.

A study at Oregon State University found one of the beneficial compounds found in green tea called EGCG has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease.

This may be one of the underlying mechanisms for the health benefits of green tea, which has attracted wide interest for its ability to help control inflammation, improve immune function and prevent cancer.

Pharmaceutical drugs are available that perform similar roles and have been the subject of much research, scientists say, but they have problems with toxicity. A natural food product might provide a long-term, sustainable way to accomplish this same goal without toxicity, researchers said.


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