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Blog Nutrition 30 Best Immune-Boosting Foods To Add To Your Diet

30 Best Immune-Boosting Foods To Add To Your Diet

Having a healthy immune system is key to staying healthy and preventing illness. While eating specific foods is unlikely to give your immune system a “boost” if it is already working well, certain nutrients are important for a properly functioning immune system, and eating a healthy varied diet can help prevent deficiencies in those nutrients. Here are 30 of the best immune-boosting foods to include in your diet:

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Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. A deficiency in vitamin C can alter the immune response, and eating citrus fruits can help you avoid a vitamin C deficiency. (22). Examples of citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes.

Berries

Berries are high in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage due to oxidative stress (13). Blueberries, in particular, are known for their high antioxidant content, but all berries are great to include in your diet.

Yogurt

Yogurt is high in probiotics, which can help support your immune system. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve your gut health (22). Since the gut is home to a large portion of your immune cells, a healthy gut helps support a healthy immune system.

Garlic

Garlic is believed to be a natural antimicrobial and can help fight infection. It contains compounds called allicin and sulfur, which are both believed to have antiviral and antimicrobial properties (22).

Broccoli

Broccoli is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, which are important nutrients for your immune system. It’s also rich in fiber, which can help keep your gut healthy (12).

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a good source of selenium, a mineral that is essential for the functioning of your immune system (12). For vegans looking for a meat substitute, mushrooms are a good option because they contain protein as well.

Spinach

Spinach is high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants, all of which can help support your immune system. It’s also a good source of iron, which can help keep your energy levels up by transporting oxygen to your cells (18).

Salmon

Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients that also happen to be anti-inflammatory. Like most fatty fish, salmon is also a good source of protein (20).

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help prevent some chronic diseases. They also contain vitamin C and other antioxidants that can help keep your body healthy (1).

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Tea

Tea is high in antioxidants, which can help protect your body from disease. Green, black, and white tea all contain antioxidants and polyphenols, but catechins from green tea in particular might help fight cold and flu viruses, according to preliminary cell studies (22).

Read More: Autoimmune Diet Plan: Overview, Food List, And Everything Else You Need To Know

Nuts

Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, which is beneficial for your immune system. They also contain healthy fats and protein, which can help keep you satiated and energized. Almonds, peanuts, and cashews are all good options (13).

Quinoa

Quinoa is a good source of protein and antioxidants, both of which can help support the functioning of your immune system. It is also high in fiber, which can help keep your gut healthy (21).

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and other antioxidants (13).

Oats

Oats are a good source of fiber, which can help improve gut health which helps to support your immune system. They are a great substitute for unhealthy breakfast options like sugary cereals (23).

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants, all of which can help support the functioning of your immune system. It is also a good source of fiber, making it a healthy option for breakfast or as a snack (16).

Poultry

Poultry is a good source of protein, zinc, and selenium, all of which are beneficial for the immune system (19). Turkey, chicken, and duck are all good options.

Beans

Beans are high in antioxidants and zinc, both of which are important nutrients for the immune system. They are also rich in fiber that’s essential for gut health (13).

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Avocado

Avocado is high in healthy fats known as monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for the body in many ways (14).

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein and selenium, both of which are needed for a properly functioning immune system (9).

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is high in zinc. Zinc deficiencies can impair immune functioning, so it is important to get enough zinc to prevent a deficiency (19).

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, which can help protect your body from disease (7).

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and vitamin B12, both of which are helpful nutrients for your immune system (5).

Cloves

Cloves are thought to be a natural antimicrobial which can help fight infection (3).

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is high in antioxidants which can help protect your body from disease (2).

30 best immune-boosting foods

Ginger

Ginger is believed to be a natural anti-inflammatory which can help reduce inflammation in the body (12).

Cranberries

Cranberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which can help support your immune system (6).

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is high in antioxidants and might have antimicrobial effects which could help your body fight disease (12).

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory (8).

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are high in probiotics, which can help support your gut health and therefore your immune system. They include kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt (22).

Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in antioxidants and healthy fats and can help protect your body from disease (26).

30 best immune-boosting foods

Worst Foods For Your Immune System

Some foods should be limited or avoided for optimal health and immune functioning:

  • Sugar – Too much sugar is said to suppress the immune system and make you more susceptible to infection (11).
  • Processed foods – Ultra processed foods are high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and chemicals, all of which are not good for your health in general, which includes your immune system (11).
  • Alcohol – Alcohol can suppress the immune system and make you more susceptible to infection (11).
  • Fried foods – Fried foods are high in unhealthy fats, which can increase your risk of heart disease (4).
  • Red meat – Red meat is high in saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease. Red meat has also been linked to colon cancer, which could mean it is not good for gut health. Moderation is key (4).

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30 best immune-boosting foods

Other Ways To Boost Your Immune System

While diet plays  a large role in immune system health, there are other ways you can support your immune system as well. These include:

Avoiding Smoking

Smoking can have a negative impact on your immune system and can increase your risk of developing diseases, such as lung cancer (11).

Avoiding Alcohol

Too much alcohol can also have a negative impact on your immune system (11).

Staying Hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can help keep your immune system functioning properly (22).

Getting Enough Sleep

When you don’t get enough sleep, it can impair your immune system function. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night (27).

Exercising

Exercise can help boost your immune system by increasing circulation and helping to keep your body healthy (15).

Reducing Stress

Stress can have a negative impact on your immune system and can increase your risk of developing diseases. Try to find ways to reduce stress in your life (24).

Some helpful tips include yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.

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Practicing Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is important for preventing infection. Make sure to brush your teeth and floss regularly.

Practicing Correct Hand-Washing

Our hands come into contact with many different types of bacteria and viruses on a daily basis. Washing your hands regularly and properly can help reduce your risk of getting sick.

The Bottom Line

There are many ways you can support your immune system naturally, through both diet and lifestyle changes. By incorporating some of the foods and tips listed in this article, you can help keep your immune system functioning at its best.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene (2013, nih.gov)
  2. Cinnamon (2020, nih.gov)
  3. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice (2014, nih.gov)
  4. Consuming high amounts of saturated fats linked to increased heart disease risk (n.d., harvard.edu)
  5. Cottage Cheese: Are There Health Benefits? (2020, harvard.edu)
  6. Cranberries and Their Bioactive Constituents in Human Health (2013, nih.gov)
  7. Dark Chocolate (n.d., harvard.edu)
  8. Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health (2019, nih.gov)
  9. Eggs (n.d., harvard.edu)
  10. Epidemiology of Cow’s Milk Allergy (2019, nih.gov)
  11. Foods and drinks that compromise your immune system (n.d., piedmont.org)
  12. Foods For The Immune System (n.d., sunnymeadowclinic.com)
  13. Foods To Boost The Immune System (2020, pcrm.org)
  14. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects (2013, nih.gov)
  15. Health Benefits of Exercise (2018, nih.gov)
  16. Health Benefits of Pumpkin (2020, webmd.com)
  17. Health risks of genetically modified foods (2009, nih.gov)
  18. Immunostimulatory effect of spinach aqueous extract on mouse macrophage-like J774.1 cells and mouse primary peritoneal macrophages (2015, tandfonline.com)
  19. Meat and poultry (n.d., betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
  20. Nutrigenomics and immune function in fish: new insights from omics technologies (2017, nih.gov)
  21. Nutritional and health benefits of quinoa (2016, sciencedirect.com)
  22. Nutrition and Immunity (n.d., harvard.edu)
  23. Oats (n.d., harvard.edu)
  24. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry (2006, nih.gov)
  25. The Safety of Ingested caffeine: A Comprehensive Review (2017, nih.gov)
  26. Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, JAEN (Spain) 2018 (2019, nih.gov)
  27. Water: How much should you drink every day? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  28. What’s the Deal With Nightshade Vegetables? (2019, clevelandclinic.org)

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