Top 10 Foods for Immune System Health

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Daniel Pavlik Sr DC

Apr 21, 2020

While the concept of boosting your immune system health might be a little questionable, it’s no secret that a healthy, balanced diet is crucial for immune function. You can help support your body’s resistance to infection by consuming these delicious, nutrient-rich foods.

1: Turmeric and ginger

These two powerful anti-inflammatory roots also help support your immune system. They’re also great for nausea and can help treat painful conditions like arthritis. Taking both spices together allows them to work in synergy to support your immune system and overall health.

2: Live yogurt

All yogurts are healthy and tasty, packed with protein, and often blended with fresh fruits. The best ones to consume for your immune system, however, are the ones with live cultures. Be aware that most live yogurt cultures will be destroyed by your stomach acid, though, and look for products containing additional cultures so that some will survive. These healthy bacterial cultures then pass into your GI tract, where they can become part of your microbiome. Colonies of positive gut bacteria are implicated in proper immune function.

3: Shellfish

Tasty shellfish are high in crucial minerals, including zinc — one of the most important minerals for immune health. Good sources include some bivalves, such as mussels and clams, and crustaceans like lobsters and crabs. Shellfish also provide plenty of healthy protein.

4: Green tea

Taken hot or cold, a refreshing cup of green tea is a great immune booster. For an even more significant boost, try powdered matcha tea — it has even more antioxidants.

5: Almonds and other tree nuts

Almonds are particularly helpful if you’re looking for an immune system boost. They are full of healthy oils and a rich source of vitamin E.

6: Kombucha

Another probiotic, kombucha, is made with fermented black tea. The living cultures involved in fermentation contribute ‘friendly’ microbes to your gut microbiome, supporting your immune function, and promoting general good health.

7: Citrus fruits

Oranges, limes, grapefruits, mandarins — citrus fruits don’t just taste good, they’re good for your immune system, too. The critical constituent in citrus fruit is vitamin C, a vitally important nutrient. Without plenty of vitamin C, your body’s immune system can’t effectively defend itself against infection. Your body also can’t heal injuries and is slow to recover from exertion. Most of us get enough vitamin C from various sources, but extra fresh citrus fruit is often a good idea. Citrus fruit also contains other essential nutrients, including antioxidants like beta carotene.

8: Chicken and other poultry

Chicken soup for a cold is one of the most famous folk remedies around. There’s some truth to the idea that chicken soup, as well as other poultry dishes, can support your immune system as it fights to protect you from bacteria and viruses.

9: Papayas and similar fruits

Papayas and related fruits are noted for their health-giving benefits. They’re packed with vitamin C, as well as other goodies like potassium, folate, and even some B vitamins. To enjoy the most significant immune system boost, you should consume these fruits as fresh as possible.

10: Seeds

Crunchy and tasty, seeds are often an excellent choice for an immune boost. Sunflower seeds, in particular, are beneficial, as they’re high in vitamin E and contain a respectable amount of B6. They also provide a range of other nutrients, such as magnesium and phosphorus. Other seeds that may have a positive boost for the immune system are pumpkin and flax seeds. While it can be useful to add specific foods to your diet for immune health, the best approach is to aim for a balanced diet that incorporates all the major food groups. Don’t forget to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially leafy greens, and plenty of healthy protein. Before making any significant changes to your diet, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or another healthcare professional. They can perform a checkup and suggest any foods that might be especially useful to you.

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