The problem with most conventional healthcare systems around the world is that they focus on treatment, not prevention. A cynic might say that’s because there’s more money in treatment than prevention, and it would be hard to argue that viewpoint.
That’s why it’s so very important for each one of us to take complete responsibility for our health, especially when it comes to preventive medicine.
Often labeled a 'superfood,' blueberries are low in calories and high in nutrients and antioxidants.
The benefits are many: You’ll feel better every day; have fewer illnesses and recover faster when you do fall ill; add years to your life and life to your years; save money on future health costs; and be a better example for everyone in your life.
One of the best preventive medicine strategies for strengthening your immune system is to eat fruit. And while most every fruit is good for you, here are eight fruits that are especially potent for strengthening your immune system:
Papaya– Papaya is the fruit of the Carica papaya plant, which originated in Central America and Southern Mexico, but is now grown all around the world. Papaya is high in Vitamin C, which enhances cytokine production, which in turn helps regulate immunity, inflammation and hematopoiesis. For adults, the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C is 65 to 90 milligrams, which you can get from one orange or a cup of strawberries. Is it possible to consume too much Vitamin C? If you consume more than 2,000 mg a day, while it won’t cause permanent harm, it could cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal cramps, headache or insomnia. Papaya also contains potassium (helps regulate balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals) and magnesium (strengthens muscles and bones, helps keep the immune system strong). It also contains a digestive enzyme called papain, which helps reduce pain and swelling.
Kiwi– Also called Chinese gooseberries, kiwi fruit originally grew in the wild in China. In 1904, a New Zealand native visited China and returned with a stash of the seeds. New Zealanders named the fruit after their national bird. Kiwis contain fiber, potassium, antioxidants and Vitamin K, and they are also high in Vitamin C which, as mentioned, is an essential nutrient for boosting the immune system. According to one review, “Kiwifruit are unequaled, compared with other commonly consumed fruit, for their nutrient density, health benefits and consumer appeal.”
Citrus fruits – All citrus fruits contain citric acid, which helps kill harmful bacteria. It also helps mend infections on the surface of the skin. Almost all citrus fruits are also high in Vitamin C. Popular citrus fruits are oranges, clementines, grapefruits, key limes, limes, lemons, tangerines and tangelos.
Blueberries–Often labeled a “superfood,” blueberries are low in calories and high in nutrients and antioxidants. The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries are from the flavonoid family. Many health benefits, including improving immune function, are attributed to a flavonoid called anthocyanin. Other fruits that have a high concentration of anthocyanins are blackcurrants, blackberries, cranberries and cherries. According to a 2017 report titled Bioactive Properties and Potential Health Benefits of Blueberries and Anthocyanins, “Because anthocyanins boost immune function and multitask as antioxidants, they are doubly beneficial because they prevent damage to surrounding tissues…”
Elderberry — A category of flowering plants called Sambucus in the Adoxaceae family (also known as the Moschatel family), the elderberry plant has the berries and flowers that are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Elderberry is used in syrup and lozenges. It’s also used in wine, jam and pie. elderberry may also increase cytokines, the body’s signaling molecules that mediate and regulate immunity, inflammation, and hematopoiesis. It’s important to note that unripe or uncooked elderberries are toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Plus, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take elderberry.
Acai berry – The acai (AH-sigh-EE) berry is native to Central and South America. The purple-black, grapelike acai berry grows on the acai palm tree. The seed makes up about 80% of the berry. The flesh and skin of the berry have been described as having a fruity wine flavor with chocolate overtones. Like blueberries, acai berries contain the antioxidant anthocyanin. Plus, they’re packed with other antioxidants that combat free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage your cells, DNA and proteins).
Acai berries are high in fat, which means freshly picked berries will go rancid within 24 hours. To keep their nutritional profile intact, they must be freeze-dried within 24 hours of being picked and shipped. In North America, acai is popularly consumed as part of an “acai bowl” which is frozen acai puree (or acai powder) combined with ingredients such as nut milk, fruits, fruit juice, nuts, oatmeal and sweeteners. While acai berries alone are healthy, an acai bowl generally contains a lot of sugar.
Watermelon – By weight, watermelon — which is 92% water — is the most consumed melon in the United States. It is low in calories and full of Vitamin C. Plus, watermelon contains healthy levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, antioxidants, amino acids and more lycopene than tomatoes — all of which play a role in a strong immune system.
Pomegranates and pomegranate juice – The tastiest part of a pomegranate is its seeds. Pomegranates are another product that helps your immune system because they are rich in Vitamin C and the antioxidant anthocyanin. They also are rich in polyphenol and punicalagin, an antioxidant found in the juice and the peel. According to a 2016 study, you can lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol level, and cleanse plaque from your arteries by drinking just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice each day. An earlier study found that pomegranate juice contains a higher concentration of antioxidants than red wine, Concord grape juice, blueberry juice, black cherry juice, acai juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, ice tea and apple juice.
Ben Franklin famously wrote that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” How true. Taking responsibility for your own health in this way, you can’t help but bolster your immune system and help ward off illness. You’ll also enjoy the fruits of your labor with improved chances for a longer life with fewer medical bills.