10 Foods That Boost the Immune System

As the saying goes, “you are what you eat,” and when it comes to your health, food plays a significant role. We’ve created a list of 10 foods that boost the immune system that are all readily available at your local grocery store. A strong immune system keeps people healthy and allows their bodies to better fight off bacteria, viruses, and foreign bodies that cause disease or infection. When your immune system comes into contact with a pathogen, your body triggers an immune response. This response releases antibodies that attach to the antigen and attract cells that will kill the pathogens. Adding certain foods to a person’s diet can help strengthen their immune response. Here are our top 10 immune-boosting foods!


1. Broccoli

This food likely comes as no surprise; there’s a good reason why our parents were so adamant about getting us to eat broccoli growing up! It’s packed with fiber, potent antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E. You can say it’s one of the healthiest vegetables out there! If you want to retain the majority of broccoli’s nutrients, it’s best to cook it as little as possible (or not at all). Blending it up in a smoothie or steaming it is the best way to keep most of the nutrients. 


2. Spinach

Spinach is packed with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and numerous antioxidants. Like broccoli, it’s best to cook spinach as little as possible to retain the maximum amount of nutrients. Lightly cooking spinach makes it easier for you to absorb vitamin A and E and releases other nutrients as well. 


3. Garlic

Not only does garlic add a little flavor to your meal, but it’s a necessity for boosting your immune system. For decades it’s been used to help fight infections and viruses such as the flu or common cold. The vegetable’s immune-boosting properties come from its concentration of compounds that have been shown to boost white blood cells disease-fighting response.


4. Citrus

It’s a common occurrence for people to immediately turn to vitamin C once they’ve caught a cold. It’s no old wives’ tale; people do this for a good reason! It helps build up the immune system and may increase the production of white blood cells, which fight infections. You’ll find high amounts of vitamin C in almost all citrus fruits. Some popular citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, clementine, and tangerines. Because our bodies don’t store vitamin C, we need a daily intake for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adult women is 75 mg and 90 mg for most adult men. 


5. Turmeric

Most people know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curry recipes. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The high concentration of curcumin (giving it its distinctive bright color) has been shown to decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.


6. Sunflower Seeds

While this one may come as a surprise, sunflower seeds are packed full of nutrients. They contain magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin B-6, and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that improved your immune system function by fighting off free radicals, which can damage cells.


7. Ginger

Similar to garlic, ginger is an ingredient many people turn to after catching a cold. Ginger has antioxidative properties and can also help decrease inflammation, possibly reducing sore throats and inflammatory illnesses.


8. Green Tea

Green tea is loaded with a type of antioxidant called flavonoids and high levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This powerful antioxidant has been shown to enhance immune function. Additionally, green tea provides the amino acid L-theanine, which may help produce germ-fighting compounds in your T cells. 


9. Red Bell Peppers

While citrus fruits are regarded for their high level of vitamin C, they can’t compete with red bell peppers! When compared ounce for ounce, red bell peppers have almost three times as much vitamin C as a Florida orange. In addition to boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin. Red bell peppers are also a great source of beta carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. 


10. Low Fat Yogurt

When buying yogurt at the store, look for packages that have “live and active cultures” on the label. These cultures are what stimulates our immune system to fight diseases. We recommend avoiding flavored yogurts as they’re usually loaded with sugar. Yogurt is also a source of vitamin D if you choose the brands that are fortified with it. This vitamin regulates the body’s immune system and can boost our natural defense against diseases.


Moonstone Naturopathic

Whether you’re making an effort the clean up your diet or protect your health during the winter, this list of 10 foods that boost the immune system is a great starting point! To kick your immune system up a notch, you can check out our previous blog on some immune-boosting herbs. If you’d like to learn more about natural ways of staying healthy, you can contact Dr. Brandy McGill for an appointment directly on our website.


* The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health provider