12 of the Best Foods to Boost the Immune System
If you’re looking to stay fit and healthy and help to prevent pesky colds, flu and infections, then you’ll want to ensure that you’re giving your immune system the best chance of fighting off nasty bugs.
The immune system is incredibly complex and there are a number of different factors which are thought to help improve immunity, one of which is diet and nutrition. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with the best foods for the immune system to help you stay as healthy as possible.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is an intricate system made up of cells, tissues and organs which help the body to fight off infection and disease. The immune system consists of:
- Your skin – the first line of defence against germs
- Mucous membranes, which create mucus to help trap germs
- White blood cells
- The organs and tissues in the lymph system
When infection or bacteria, known as antigens, enter your body they can attack healthy cells, which is what makes you poorly. However, when the body recognises these antigens, the immune system gets to work to fight them off – this is called an immune response. This can either prevent you from becoming ill or reduce the severity of your illness.
Which Foods Can Boost the Immune System?
There are a number of different factors which can contribute towards a well-functioning immune system, one of which is a nutritious diet.
Although no specific foods can boost the immune system alone, there are some foods which are more favourable when it comes to boosting immunity and fighting off infection – especially when incorporated into a balanced diet.
Whether you throw them in a smoothie, add them to your morning porridge or add them to some delicious turmeric pancakes – your body will certainly thank you for it!
Small but mighty, blueberries pack a real nutritional punch. Filled with vitamin C, K, potassium and flavonoids (antioxidants which can support the immune system), blueberries should certainly be at the top of your shopping list.
2. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, a nutrient which contributes towards a healthy immune system. It does this by helping to influence the production of white blood cells, which can help to fight off infection.
So whether you enjoy a glass of orange juice in the morning, or sip lemon water throughout the day – citrus fruits are a must-have in any immune boosting diet.
3. Red Peppers
Often thought to be a vegetable, red peppers are actually classed as a fruit, as they contain seeds and grow from a plant – who knew!
Aside from being incredibly versatile, red peppers are another of the best immune boosting foods. This is due to the fact that, like citrus fruits, red peppers are incredibly high in vitamin C. In fact, just 150g of red pepper contains over one and a half times your daily requirement of vitamin C – three times more than an orange!
Many people are surprised to learn about the benefits of fresh ginger. From being rich in antioxidants, to helping to alleviate nausea and upset stomachs – ginger can add a real boost to your day. One of the biggest benefits of ginger is its ability to support the immune system thanks to its purported anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties.
Inflammation is a natural immune response, however, chronic inflammation from stress, poor diet or an underlying medical condition can suppress the immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. By including ginger in your diet, you may be able to reduce inflammation and give your immune system the best chance of fighting off harmful antigens.
If you want a quick and easy way to incorporate ginger into your day, we’ve got just the thing for you! Our Raw Turmeric & Ginger Shots contain 10% of pure ginger root, providing you with all of the benefits in one tasty shot!
5. Green Tea
Not only is it a great alternative to tea and coffee, but green tea could also be beneficial for your immune system.
That’s because green tea is full of antioxidants, which are vital for your immune function. Specifically, green tea contains catechins, which are a type of natural phenol and antioxidant that have been proven to help ward off the flu and common colds.
Whether you enjoy an on-trend matcha latte, or replace your afternoon brew with one of the green variety – it will have you well on your way to keeping your immune system working as efficiently as possible.
If you were wondering whether spicy food is good for your immune system, then we’d say yes – providing it contains a good dose of turmeric!
Like ginger, turmeric has purported anti-inflammatory benefits, which can help to reduce chronic inflammation and reduce the risk of suppressing the immune system. Simply sip on one of our Raw Turmeric and Ginger Shots each day to see if these two powerful roots could benefit your health.
7. Dark Chocolate
If you ever needed an excuse to eat chocolate, then this would be it.
Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, a mineral which is thought to play an important role in immune function. The immune system is made up of a number of different components which work together to fight off antigens. Magnesium helps to enhance the function of some of these different components, thus boosting the immune system.
Just 30 grams of 70-85% dark chocolate contains 65 milligrams of magnesium, which is over 15% of the recommended daily intake. Whilst we’re not encouraging you to eat copious amounts of dark chocolate every day, enjoying a few squares could help to keep you healthy and fighting fit.
It probably comes as no surprise that broccoli is one of the best foods that are good for your immune system.
Filled with vitamin C, A, E and potent antioxidants, it’s one of the best vegetables to eat for immunity. In order to keep these vitamins and antioxidants intact so you can reap the benefits, it’s advisable to cook broccoli as little as possible – gently steaming it is the best method to go for.
Whether you love it or hate it, garlic is another excellent immunity-boosting food. When garlic is crushed, it produces a compound called allicin, which has been found to offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits – it’s also what gives garlic its distinctive taste!
Allicin, along with other compounds found in garlic, have been shown to improve the response of some types of white blood cells against cold and flu viruses, which can both reduce the severity of the symptoms or prevent you from becoming ill in the first place.
Although it may surprise you, almonds are an excellent food for the immune system. That’s because almonds are incredibly rich in vitamin E, which is one of the most effective nutrients for immune function.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and supports the body’s immune function by enhancing the growth of T cells, which are essential for fighting off - and even preventing - infection.
Whilst almonds contain 26mg of vitamin E per 100g (171% of your RDA), other sources of vitamin E include:
- Sunflower seeds (35mg per 100g)
- Hazelnuts (15mg per 100g)
- Wheat germ oil (149mg per 100g)
- Avocado (4mg per 100g)
It may surprise you to learn that 70-80% of your immune system is in your gut, which is one of the reasons why it’s so incredibly important to maintain a healthy gut bacteria, not only to help avoid digestive issues, but to keep you fighting fit too!
That’s why yogurts with live active cultures are an excellent food to include in your immunity-boosting diet. Rich in probiotics, yogurt supports a healthy microbiome in the gut, reduces inflammation and could even lessen the severity of the common cold.
Perhaps one of the healthiest foods to include in your diet, spinach boasts immunity-boosting qualities.
Rich in antioxidants, beta carotene and vitamins C and E, spinach could give you that extra boost you need. So whether you toss it in your morning smoothie, enjoy lightly steamed spinach with your evening meal, or incorporate it into your salads – your body will be filled with nutrients!
When it comes to maintaining a healthy, immunity-boosting diet, it’s important to incorporate as many foods as possible into your overall diet. Whether you add antioxidant-rich blueberries to your morning porridge, enjoy red pepper dipped in garlicky houmous as a snack, or sip a potent Raw Turmeric Vitamin C & D3 shots each morning – you’ll be giving your body the very best chance of fighting off infection and preventing pesky illnesses.