7 Plant-Based Foods to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Chicken soup is a staple for surviving cold and flu season, and not just because the warm comfort food is a nostalgic throwback to mom taking care of you. “Dieting and overexercising can run us down and negatively impact the immune system,” she says. Increase B6 by eating a sweet potato yogurt almond butter breakfast parfait. Oily fish contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). To beat this and you may need to eat this. This tropical fruit is rich in beta-carotene, says Marber, which converts into vitamin A in the body. Adaptogens protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, and emotional—and yes, the immune system is protected there as well.

  • It contains flavonoids, an antioxidant that boosts immunity, and it has anti-inflammatory properties, according to a study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology.
  • Eat more citrus.
  • In a review published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers summarized that ginger's potent anti-inflammatory properties were key in the root's powers to combat a cold or flu.
  • Drink your probiotics.
  • Food should always come first, but if you have chosen to take a probiotic supplement, you'll want to make sure you're taking the right one.
  • The last word in immune-bolstering micronutrients is vitamin C, which anyone who has been told to up their intake of oranges to fight off a cold will be familiar with.
  • “These cilia form the first line of defense against respiratory infections,” Dr.

Elderberry benefits are numerous, however, the remedy may interact with certain prescription medications. If you are concerned about immune health, you may consider having your vitamin D level checked and talking to your doctor about whether to take a supplement. Eating nutrient-dense foods, in general, provides for higher energy levels, mental clarity, better performance, and an overall healthy feeling,” Chase says. Enjoy wild-caught salmon to increase the zinc in your diet and fight off potential infections. Hydrate creatively.

Their taste and smell are fascinating and probably differ from anything you’ve been used to so far, so make sure to start with a small dose and adjust as needed. Milk and white chocolate, for example, have relatively few, if any immunity perks. Researchers hope to use these tools to analyze patterns in order to better understand how the many pathways involved act at once. 5 times more Vitamin C, eight times more Vitamin A and 11 times more beta carotene, according to the University of the District of Columbia’s Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health.

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Anthocyanidins are actually responsible for the purple color in your favorite fruits and vegetables. The phytochemicals in it are great for arming and strengthening your immune system. The health benefits of tea are impressive and include a lower risk of infections.

  • Look for labels that say "live and active cultures" and for added Vitamin D as individuals with low Vitamin D levels may be more likely to get the cold or flu.
  • Kiwis are a great example.
  • In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand.
  • Some of the key nutrients involved in immune function are amino acids found in protein-rich foods, a range of essential vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C and E, selenium and zinc, as well as pro- and prebiotics that help to keep our gut microflora healthy.

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Numerous studies have found a link between excessive alcohol consumption and immune function. Plain water, herbal or infused teas or pure vegetable juices are all good choices. You’ll be glad to know that avocado is loaded with vitamins. All-natural, raw honey not only tastes delicious but can also help soothe some symptoms of a cold.

Serve your kids a variety of seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds, to boost their immune systems.


Add oats to your kids’ diet by serving them Apple and Almond Butter Overnight Oats (pictured above). Most fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C, but your best sources are citrus fruits, asparagus, cantaloupe, strawberries and kale. It’s possible to boost your immune system by adding more of these plant-based foods to your plate. “Fruits and veggies help arm your body with antioxidants it needs to fight oxidative stress, which includes contracting a sickness, in your body,” she says.

Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. Using them in our cooking in dried or fresh forms, or finding them in oils and tinctures, you can’t go wrong when you decide to include more herbs in your everyday life. It’s great to eat, but it also comes in a supplement form, and studies have shown that daily supplementationwith garlic can reduce colds by 63% when compared with placebo. In one study of adults with flu-like symptoms, those who took 15 ml of the elderberry syrup four times daily had their symptoms clear up roughly four days earlier than those who took a placebo syrup. It’s a fat-soluble molecule, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed, so nuts are the perfect package for E to make it into your system. This nutrient has a heavy impact on your immune system and helps reduce symptoms of the common cold, according to a study published in theCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Many products on store shelves claim to boost or support immunity. Research suggests that Vitamin E can even help protect the body against several infectious diseases. Other cells produce antibodies that recognize and target protein markers (called antigens) on the surface of germs,” Dr. Fruits and vegetables are your best defense against these age-related conditions. If taken in the right quantity and of the right quality they can be of tremendous nutritive value and can boost your immune system and health to a much higher point. Here are some nutrition-focused tips Haas offered up to help boost your immune system.

Eat More Avocado.

Make a smoothie. Will smoking weed make my flu less terrible? This study found no negative or positive association between cannabis consumption and immune function. Allicin is thought to improve your immune cells' ability to fight off colds and flu, and viruses of all kinds. Vitamin C is great for fighting off sickness and helping you get well more quickly.

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Eat them as is, or stir into nut butter and eat off a spoon. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. Protein plays a role in the body's immune system, especially for healing and recovery. While that may not be doable, realistically, some people take garlic supplements to get 300-mg dried garlic in a powdered tablet. Think balance, not a sudden overdose of vitamins, she says. Green tea Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. She is licensed by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy to practice in the province of Ontario.

Seek Out Zinc

5 cups of vegetables a day. Free radicals are molecules that the body produces when it breaks down food or comes into contact with pollutants. Vitamin C can help protect your body from infection and even can stimulate the formation of antibodies to fight off disease. You watch your kids, participating in their activities, along side other kids with runny noses and coughs. Add it to cooked veggies, soup, or broth. Immune system boosters and busters, advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. 1 Plus, another study showed that a high dose of garlic extract can the amount of cold or flu sick days by 61%. A review of the food published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews showed that a group of participants in a study who ate garlic over a three-month period only had 24 cases of the common cold total, a significant decrease in comparison to the 65 cases reported by the control group.

Sadly, too many of us don’t eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we need to keep ourselves healthy year-round. Favorite immune boosting recipes with beets: Need help falling asleep?

Vitamin E

Capsaicin acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and may ease arthritis symptoms. Here are eight ways to boost your immunity. Specifically, research has found that stress causes a release of the hormone cortisol, which can boost inflammation, a precursor to many diseases, in your body. Derived from the leaves and flowers of oregano, which you would use in your cooking, oregano oil comes in tincture and extract form to help boost your immune system. Taking a nap can boost your immune system, too. Blueberries in particular may help you fend off colds and flu, though, as they are high in pterostilbene. To feed your gut flora, Cruickshank recommends “eating a more varied diet with lots of high-fibre foods”.

Nutritional deficiencies can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of the infection.
  • But, did you know one cup of strawberries or raw broccoli gives you nearly 100 percent of your daily Vitamin C?
  • Scientists believe that allicin may block enzymes involved in infections; some studies suggest that swallowing garlic may ward off colds.
  • This is a multi-purpose tea that can help with so many things.
  • However, there are foods, herbs, tonics and teas that you can use to help strengthen your immune system to try to prevent getting sick, and also things you can include in your diet to help you if you’re already sick.

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They also contain potassium, which is essential for fluid regulation, overall mineral balance, and muscle contraction. Research lends credibility to garlic’s immune-supporting capabilities. Curcumin, the natural compound in turmeric responsible for its vibrant color, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound. Here are some fruits, and their extraordinary nutritive capabilities. More great ideas include these Flourless Sweet Potato Blender Muffins or this Sweet Potato and Apple Soup.

When you're coming down with a cold or flu, everyone seems to have their own idea of what will make you feel better — but how do we separate fact from fiction? ” Necking extra vitamin C, however, is probably a waste of time for well-fed westerners. Elderberrry is a shrub that has been used medicinally for centuries. Here are 11 of the best foods for your immune system. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to catch the infections they’re exposed to. Where ever you go, you see sick people. In addition to being one of the top anti-inflammatory foods, walnuts contain several nutrients that play a role in supporting the immune system, including vitamins E and B6, copper, and folate.

Try adding extra Tumeric to your diet during periods of stress or during flu season. Plus, the prebiotic fiber in veggies and fruit supports the probiotics that live in your GI tract, helping them grow and thrive. Ancient humans valued garlic as an infection fighter, which is why so much of our traditional diets include it as a first ingredient (making pasta sauce for instance). Throw them into smoothies instead. Washing your hands regularly will help keep viruses and bacteria away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, which can do your immune system a solid, Dr. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function.


The best broccoli recipes: By eating a wide variety of seeds, you’ll be getting vitamin E, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids, all of which help your immune system. Older people should discuss this question with a physician who is well versed in geriatric nutrition, because while some dietary supplementation may be beneficial for older people, even small changes can have serious repercussions in this age group. And while you're keeping yourself healthy, be sure to avoid these 100 Worst Foods for Cold and Flu. Coconut in all its forms is a superfood powerhouse.

Fennel has a variety of soothing effects that can help relieve you of your flu-like symptoms. Greens and Whites Cancer is one of the ultimate immune disorders as cancerous cells need to evade multiple immune defenses and checkpoints in order to become malignant and spread. What may appear to be a stressful situation for one person is not for another. Orange juice is typically loaded with refined sugars, which can cause inflammation in your body. Certified organic produce also is grown and farmed without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

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When it comes to boosting immunity, we talk a lot about probiotics, but we also need to fill our diets with prebiotic foods. Early-life inflammation, immune response and ageing, in this regard, pyroptosis of CD4 T cells and secretion of pro-inflmammatory cytokines such as IL-1β and IL-18 can be blocked in HIV-infected human lymphoid tissues by addition of the caspase-1 inhibitor VX-765,[51] which has already proven to be safe and well tolerated in phase II human clinical trials. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly. No one knows how many cells or what the best mix of cells the immune system needs to function at its optimum level. High doses of ultraviolet light (usually from the sun) can affect it negatively, weakening any protective functions (as well as triggering immune suppression in the skin itself). Green vegetables, including spinach and broccoli, also provide some vitamin E.

Research shows people who drink in excess are more susceptible to respiratory illness and pneumonia and recover from infection and wounds more slowly. Drinking it may also strengthen the immune system. If you’re looking to include probiotics in your daily diet, you might want to try kefir. You can build up your children’s immune systems with nutrient-dense foods. How to keep your immune system strong, prebiotic foods include:. For example, smoking immobilizes cilia, the hair-like structures in your airways that help “sweep” out bacteria. As life expectancy in developed countries has increased, so too has the incidence of age-related conditions.

Exercise: Good or bad for immunity?

So take a proactive approach this season and add these immune-system-boosting treats to your daily routine. Combine the two: It's because of that whole "vitamin C" thing. Our favorite fruits with vitamin C are oranges, strawberries, and kiwis.

Then, during a four-year sojourn teaching in Europe & Asia, she was made aware of the incredible healing power of nature, the importance of nutrition and discovered Eastern healing techniques and meditation.

Sweet Potatoes

It has been shown to help lower blood pressure, inhibit blood clotting and promote healthy cholesterol levels. Probiotics reintroduce good bacteria to the gut and are typically found in cultured yoghurts, fermented drinks such as kombucha, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, and supplementary products available in pharmacies. Not sure how much you need? MEET LEAGUE CITY'S FAT CAT HARVEY: A cocktail or glass of wine while you are sheltering in place during coronavirus is fine. Eat foods that promote a healthy microbiome in your gut. Traditionally eaten at Thanksgiving, it’s worth expanding your cranberry repertoire to include dishes year-round.

How much beta carotene do you need a day: They also provide vitamin C (you can meet half your daily requirement from one fruit), so adding lemon juice to your meals is an easy strategy for protecting yourself against colds and other infections. Finally, quit smoking if you haven’t already. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and K. This important vitamin — part of nearly 200 biochemical reactions in your body — is critical in how your immune system functions. Find out how to create a mom self-care club for support and health. The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. Certain nuts and vegetable oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can only be acquired through foods.


Personally, I am a believer in taking zinc (and drinking Emergen-C) at the first onset of a cold. Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging, Sept. “This might mean that our immune response doesn’t recognise certain bugs,” she says, “or the bugs have sneaky evasion strategies. Scientists are puzzling through why this may be but they posit that it has something to do with how quickly the childhood immune system springs into action. Seventy percent of your immune system lives in your gut, so, it's important to keep it healthy if you want to fend off any cold-causing germs. Three ounces of sardines provides over 80%. Toss sardines with veggies, tomato sauce, and pasta, or add to salads.

They are full of folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium.

Ginseng Tea

Getting sick is the worst—especially during the holidays when your schedule is packed with parties, travel plans, and delicious food. Its complex biochemistry composition appears to enhance the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain bacteria and virus-fighting cell types, which helps keep the bad guys away. Share on Pinterest Garlic may help to prevent colds. Contrary to popular opinion, eating to boost immune function is not about mega-dosing on vitamin C or drinking nothing but fresh juice. Certainly it produces many more lymphocytes than it can possibly use. Garlic also has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties thought to fight off infections. It’s trying to bypass all the early stuff and create the memory, so you don’t have to be sick. Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response?

Fruits that fit into this category also have a low GI (glycemic index), so they won’t cause your insulin to spike up, which makes them suitable even for those on the ketogenic diet. Cold and flu season is upon us. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy, as well.

9 It’s one of the most effective remedies around to boost the body’s natural immunity, and can be used in a variety of ways, including inhalation. A study published in BioMed Research International noted that fennel acts as a soothing mechanism for those suffering from conjunctivitis, diarrhea, fevers, and stomachaches due to its abundance of phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Personally, my immune system is not necessarily very good at seeing colds. Found in apples, onions, teas and red wines. You can also try these Blueberry Oat Breakfast Bars, Berry Coconut Steel Cut Oats, or Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups. A group of Canadian researchers that has reviewed hundreds of medical studies on the subject and conducted some of its own research concludes that there's no need to worry about moderate cold exposure — it has no detrimental effect on the human immune system. Brew a cup and sip it slowly: Since we know that being in nature could improve happiness and boost the immune system, we recommend learning more about forest therapy and the ways you can get outside in every season.

A Word of Caution

USDA National Nutrient Database: It is involved in tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, immune system support, iron absorption and stomach acid activation. Studies show that regular supplementation of a minimum of 1 to 2 grams/day of vitamin C per day can reduce how long cold symptoms last by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children. Just like oranges, grapefruits are a great source of vitamin C. Weak immune system: symptoms and what to do, type 1 diabetes, for instance, attacks the pancreas, limiting the production of insulin. Whole grains are good for your body, keeping your gut healthy enough to defend your body against illness.

However, there are also many additional compounds in tomatoes and tomato products that can protect the DNA of immune cells from oxidative damage and therefore promote proper immune function.

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The researchers discovered that people who ate probiotics daily had a lower risk of catching a cold than those who did not eat any probiotic-rich food. Whatever the case may be, including it into your diet, especially during the flu season, can’t do any harm, so add it to your tea, grate it into your carrot soup, or ask for extras when you go to your favorite sushi spot. One simple way to work in a daily dose of vitamin C is to drink lemon water, either chilled or warm. These things are all important when our immune system is bogged down by sickness or environmental causes. Plus, it helps you feel more rejuvenated and refreshed, so if you’re struggling with the tail end of a cold, a warm mug of mint tea might give you the boost you need to conquer it once and for all. She was first introduced to the concept of holism when working within a First Nations education model. Scientists have dunked people in cold water and made others sit nude in subfreezing temperatures.

  • Where else would we start?
  • The high antioxidant content in dried tart cherries is tied to a bolstered immune system, including a reduced risk of upper respiratory tract symptoms.
  • Purple grapes are also full of similar anthocyanin antioxidants, and regular consumption of 100-percent grape juice can increase antioxidant status as well as circulating levels of immune cells called gamma delta T cells in the intestines and lungs.
  • Making sure your immune system is in tip-top shape by using food to power it.
  • Building a strong immune system is not only about what we do eat, but also what we actively choose to avoid.
  • Research also indicates that flavonoids may help to prevent the common cold in otherwise healthy people.

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Interestingly, red peppers have 11 times more beta-cerotene than green peppers, and one and a half times more vitamin C. Order warm or wilted spinach salad when you go out, or make it yourself with olive oil, pine nuts, and vegan parm. Pros and cons: prednisone, other common side effects that I personally have suffered from are changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist)…. Start your day with Mini Breakfast Egg, Tomato, and Spinach Flatbread Pizzas. This is the amount shown in studies to saturate the body, meaning any more vitamin C will be excreted.


So, although snacking on garlic isn’t the best idea for a first date, chopping it into your meals is a great way to ensure you’re getting all the benefits. Consider also seeking out foods high in vitamin E, D and A, plus iron, zinc and selenium. Omega 3 fatty acids and other healthy fats help increase the activity of white blood cells. Bananas are also known to boost the immune system, help your nervous system, and help the body’s metabolism. Plus, a 2020 study by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey also showed that probiotics, specifically Lactobacillus, reduces the common cold by two days and decreases the severity of the symptoms. Eat these to bolster your white blood cells and the supporting teams that keep them ready for battle. Francis is a great combination that contains astraglus and helps to tonify a weak immune system. How can you improve your immune system?

“If you don’t have adequate vitamin D circulating, you are less effective at producing these proteins and more susceptible to infection,” says Dr. Oats are great for weight loss, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, and digestion, among many things. The bottom line: Research has shown that when a person is low in vitamin D, they are more susceptible to illness.

Papaya is a rich source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body and promotes healthy eyes, skin and tissues. The ingredient curcumin has been found to decrease muscle soreness after a hard workout. The only issue is that your body cannot make Vitamin C, so it must come from the foods you eat on a daily basis. Get this immune-boosting vitamin from foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, eggs or foods labeled "vitamin A fortified," such as milk or some cereals. But for her clients, she recommends a simple equation — 50 percent of your body weight in fluid ounces, up to a 100 fluid ounces a day. So few children are among those sick enough to be diagnosed, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association that the outbreak is skewing older, to infect people over 49. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale are rich in vitamin A, vitamins C, chlorophyll, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, which have immunostimulatory and immunoprotective effects while the sulfur-rich molecules in garlic known as allyl compounds work on numerous immune pathways by being antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anticarcinogenic.