The 10 best foods to boost your immunity

Every fall, people concerned about their health and immunity begin searching for “immune-boosting foods.” A Google search will yield about 200,000 hits, and you’ll see countless food lists that often include citrus, fish, yogurt, and spices. Many of the results highlight questionable remedies advertised as cold and flu remedies. The truth is that there is no one food that guarantees that your body will function best against bacteria or viruses to which you are exposed, but several recent studies show that the quality of your diet and your overall lifestyle, along with specific nutrient-dense, immune-boosting foods can play a role in helping strengthen your body’s immune system during the upcoming cold weather season.

The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that identifies a potential pathogen, such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi when it enters your body, and does what it does. Steps to neutralize the threat. Many vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive compounds in foods play a role in the immune system.

According to research, the most essential nutrients for immunity include vitamins A (beta-carotene), B, C, D, E, folic acid and linoleic acid, copper, iron, selenium and zinc. According to research, a deficiency in any of these nutrients can compromise your body’s ability to fight pathogens.

Eating to improve immunity, the goal is to focus on a plant-centered diet, as most of the bioactive compounds that help the immune system function at its best are found in foods containing plant origin. A good rule of thumb is to try to eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. One serving of fruit is one medium piece of fresh fruit, one cup of berries or 100% fruit juice, and one serving of vegetables is one cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 100% vegetable juice.

To help boost your immune system this fall and winter, here are the 10 best immune-boosting foods. Read on, and for more healthy eating tips, check out 23 High-Protein Snacks to Stay Full and Energized All Day.


According to a review article published in the journal, whether you choose blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries, all berries contain vitamin C and antioxidants that help keep the system healthy. Your immunity is strong. Molecules. Vivid red, blue, purple and black berries are a sign that they are rich in beneficial anthocyanins. Many anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants. According to research, these compounds provide many health benefits, including immune health.

Woman eating candy from a glass jar at work


There are more than 5,000 research articles published on garlic and its role in immune function. According to the University of Rochester, alliin is the main bioactive compound in garlic, and alliin acts as an antibacterial agent. It also provides allicin, which acts as a natural antibiotic. Garlic has long been used as an antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal and it can boost the immune system to help ward off viruses and other pathogens.

green leafy vegetables kale spinach

According to Phoenix-based registered dietitian Rhyan Geiger, RDNGreen vegetables like spinach, kale, arugula and other leafy greens have vitamin C and antioxidants like beta carotene and are great for supporting your immune health. Green leafy vegetables contain many nutrients linked to improved immunity, including gut-healthy fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene and hundreds of bioactive compounds. A study published in the journal Nutrients reports that in Ikaria, Greece, one of the world’s five “Green Zones” representing the healthiest regions on the planet, people often enjoy bitter herbs as part of their daily diet .

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These popular cruciferous vegetables provide unique bioactives that can directly improve your immunity. According to a study in the journal Cell, cruciferous vegetables have a direct impact on chemical signaling that activates endothelial lymphocytes, an important type of immune cell that serves as the first line of defense against pathogens. Researchers report that in an animal model study when animals were deprived of cruciferous vegetables in their diets, approximately 70-80% of these protective cells disappeared.

sweet potato

Sweet potato flesh’s vivid orange color reflects the antioxidant content of this nutrient-rich vegetable, the nutritionist explains. Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN. Antioxidants are not only good for overall health but also play a role in strengthening the body’s immune defenses.

“One medium sweet potato provides more than 100% of the vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) you need for the entire day.” One study reports that sweet potatoes may be a way to prevent vitamin A deficiency. Furthermore, sweet potatoes contain about 40% of your daily vitamin C needs and they also contain fiber, potassium and magnesium. For a quick addition to your diet, microwave sweet potatoes and enjoy mashed sweet potatoes. Mashed sweet potatoes can be enjoyed as a side dish or incorporated into smoothies, baked goods, and soups.

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citrus fruits

Citrus is one of the best sources of vitamin C, folate and hundreds of other beneficial bioactive ingredients that can help boost your immune system. According to research published above Frontiers in immunology, citrus fruits help reduce oxidative stress to control systemic inflammation. Vitamin C and folate support the function of many types of immune cells, including natural killer cells and T cells. Furthermore, several key bioactive ingredients are present in citrus, such as hesperidin, naringenin , naringin and narirutin, both have anti-inflammatory benefits.

A handful of almonds

Almonds are often touted as an immune-boosting food, which is because they are a nut rich in vitamin E. Almonds are packed with nutrients and provide 4 grams of fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, 6 grams of plant-based protein, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc and vitamin E.

Almonds contain the most vitamin E of any nut, and vitamin E has been shown in studies to boost T cells, which are immune system cells that can neutralize pathogens. Furthermore, other studies show that almonds also improve the gut microbiome, which helps boost immunity.

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sunflower seeds

Cough and cold medicines often have selenium added. That’s because selenium strengthens white blood cells, which can improve the body’s ability to fight infections. Eating nutritious foods rich in selenium is one way to keep your immune system ready. A study published in the journal Advances in nutrition reported on how selenium promotes cellular immune responses. The authors suggest that dietary selenium could be considered an adjunctive therapy alongside traditional medications when fighting infections.

Pumpkin, sesame, hemp and other seeds are also rich in B vitamins, fiber and zinc, essential nutrients to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi.

grilled mushrooms

If you Google mushrooms and immunity, you’ll get nearly 6 million results. The use of mushrooms to protect against various infectious diseases dates back thousands of years in Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures. Mushrooms provide several important nutrients that support a healthy immune system, including selenium, Vitamin D and B6.

According to National Institutes of Health, your immune system needs vitamin D to fight bacteria and viruses. Mushrooms are the only food in the produce section that has vitamin D. All mushrooms contain some vitamin D. However, UV-exposed mushrooms are the only product that has 50-128% natural vitamin D .

For example, portabella mushrooms contain 120% of the RDA for vitamin D. Enjoy mushrooms in salads, with eggs, or chopped and mixed with ground meat to create healthier, immune-boosting meals.

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Greek yogurt container

Yogurt is considered an immune booster because yogurt provides “live and active cultures,” which help improve your gut microbiome. Your digestive tract cells are considered the first line of defense against pathogens entering your body. The gastrointestinal tract also has specialized immune cells that assist in neutralizing pathogens that may have been consumed.

According to a review article published on Journal of Applied Microbiology, probiotics are commonly defined as microbial food supplements that have beneficial effects for consumers. Most probiotics in the American diet are derived from yogurt, kefir or other fermented foods. Some of the beneficial effects of lactic acid bacteria include improving gut health, strengthening the immune system, increasing absorption of certain nutrients, and reducing the risk of certain cancers, among many other benefits. other health.

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