Best Foods To Boost Immune System

Our immune system is our internal defense system. When something foreign enters the body, it jumps into action and rushes to the site to fight it off. At least… it should. If our immune system is weak, it will either be sluggish to act or won’t be strong enough to fight off the invaders. Luckily, there are a few easy ways we can strengthen our immune system naturally. The primary way is through eating the best foods to boost immune system health.

How Does Food Care for Our Immune System?

Our immune system is fueled – like everything else in our body – through the nutrition we eat. Food contains the micro and macronutrients necessary to fuel our body.

Cherry tomatoes in a bowl with broccoli

It’s not only our physical health that is affected by the foods we eat; our mental health can be impacted too. If we fill our bodies with poor-quality, processed, sugary foods, our energy levels will drop. This drop in energy will no doubt cause us low moods, stress and even depression. Not only will this make us feel crappy, but it can cause our immune system to weaken, too.

10 Foods to Boost the Immune System

Here are ten top immunity boosting foods for adults and immunity boosting foods for kids that can help boost the immune system:

Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers in a wooden bowl

Red bell peppers are one of the best immunity boosting foods for kids because they’re colorful, sweet, and have an easy-to-eat texture. As for its cold-fighting properties, it contains 12.7 mg of vitamin C, which is nearly three times the amount we can find in a Florida orange!

Red peppers are also a great source of beta carotene, which our bodies convert into Vitamin A to keep our skin and eyes healthy.

Mushrooms

Freshly picked mushrooms in a basket

Mushrooms are high in selenium, which plays an important role in thyroid function and metabolism. They’re also a good source of B vitamins such as niacin and riboflavin. They’re also super versatile and easy to cook, whether you’re a fan of portobello mushroom burgers, stuffed mushrooms, or button mushrooms as part of a breakfast scramble. 

Mushrooms aren’t for everyone, but try shitake mushrooms if you don’t like the soft texture of most mushrooms, as they’re much firmer in texture.

Broccoli

Broccoli on a wooden cutting board

Broccoli is probably one of the healthiest foods you can eat – that’s why it’s considered a superfood! It’s full of antioxidants, fiber and vitamins A, C and E, which are all vital for a strong immune system.

Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, which triggers antioxidant genes and enzymes in the body’s immune cells. This then reduces the negative effects of free radicals that can lead to poor health.

Citrus Fruits

Juicy freshly cut oranges grapefruits and limes

Our bodies do not naturally produce vitamin C, so we need it every day. Thankfully, almost every citrus fruit is high in vitamin C, plus there are lots to choose from, so it’s an easy vitamin to get from your diet.

Some people take extra vitamin C when they feel run down, but the body only needs so much vitamin C every day, so most of those supplements end up leaving the body through urination. 

Citrus fruits are high in the ultimate immune booster, and they can also be used for various types of delicious recipes. From a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in a salad dressing to key lime pie, the citrus fruit is super adaptable and one of the best immunity boosting foods for kids, because they’re delicious!

Some popular citrus fruits include:

  • Oranges (of which there are many varieties)
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Clementines
  • Tangerines
  • Satsumas
  • Grapefruit
  • Pomelo

The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adult females is 75 mg and 90 mg for adult males. As for picky children, orange juice is probably your best bet for getting them to consume vitamin C!

Sweet Potatoes

Raw sweet potates freshly cut next to knife

One medium sweet potato provides an impressive 120% of our daily intake of vitamin A and 30% of the vitamin C we need in a day. Sweet potatoes are also a great substitute for regular potatoes; they’re fat-free, lower in carbs and have a much lower glycemic index. In other words, our bodies don’t turn them into sugar.

These vitamins, along with the beta carotene in orange and purple sweet potatoes, make them ideal for boosting the immune system. If given the choice, avoid white sweet potatoes simply because they aren’t as high in these nutrients. Leave the skins on for added nutrients.

Garlic

Garlic cloves stacked in on a pile on wooden table

Although it is used as a herb or spice, botanically speaking, garlic is a vegetable. This powerful root has been used to relieve cold and flu symptoms for centuries, as well as a delicious and wholesome way to season a meal. Garlic has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Respectively, these properties could help to prevent skin diseases, reduce the effects of free radicals in the body and may even reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cancer.

The immune-boosting properties in garlic come from a high concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, like allicin, which makes garlic the perfect ingredient to your favorite immune-boosting meal.

Garlic is a great immunity boosting food for kids because you can sneak it into their meals without them really knowing it’s there! Use fresh chopped garlic over powder for the best benefits.

Spinach

Freshly washed spinach leaves in a white bowl on the wood counter

Not only is this little leafy vegetable high in iron, it’s also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, fiber, magnesium and folate. These vitamins and minerals work together to repair DNA and maintain a healthy immune system. Spinach is the most effective when eaten raw as it retains all of its nutrients However, you can lightly cook it and still absorb the majority of the goodness. Spinach can be cooked as part of a delicious pasta dish, added to juices and smoothies, or simply used as a leafy base for your favorite salad. 

Ginger

Freshly ground ginger root in a wooden bowl with scoop next to cutting board

Ginger is another ingredient that we tend to use when we’re feeling a little under the weather, and for a good reason. Ginger contains antioxidant compounds and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why we might use it when we feel a sore throat coming on. Ginger also helps neutralize free radicals, which could help to lower your risk of cancer, arthritis, and neurodegenerative disorders. 

Ginger is also hugely versatile in cooking and baking; if you’re a fan of the taste, you can grate some fresh ginger and steep it to make tea, or even add it to hot chocolate for a fresh tang. In cooking, ginger is used in a lot of Chinese, Indian and Thai food, and works really well when used in baking.  

The great thing about an immune-boosting diet is that it can be varied every day. It’s certainly possible to consume the right amount of vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy immune system, even if you have children who are fussy eaters. Whether it’s roasting red peppers and adding them to a tomato pasta sauce or throwing in a handful of spinach into a fruit smoothie, getting those healthy vegetables in can be easy!

Foods that Weaken the Immune System

Jars of colorful chocolate covered candy and gummy worms bears with candy canes

Fortunately, it’s easy to find the foods that weaken the immune system because they all fall into one of two categories: processed and/or junk food. That means you should avoid:

  • Full-sugar sodas
  • Processed foods (anything precooked and packaged – of course you have to use a little common sense here!)
  • Candy and chocolate (opt for a little dark chocolate to get your fix – the darker you can tolerate the better)
  • Too many starchy carbs (white bread, white potatoes, etc)
  • Alcohol (alcohol dampens the immune system)

If you can find it (or all its ingredients) in the fruit and veg aisle at your grocery store, it’s almost certainly good for your immune system. If there’s anything in the ingredients list that isn’t there or is an ingredient you’ve never heard of, be wary. It’s likely no good for your immune system.

Herbal Mana Flu Bomb cream outside in the fall leaves by a tree

Our Cold & Flu Fighting Blend is made with a selection of 9 high-grade essential oils. This topical blend can be used daily or at the first sign of a cold or cough. We also make a Flu Bomb Cream, which can be applied to the bottoms of your feet and the back of your neck. 

Herbal Mana Logo with 3 Leaves and White Glow -- thumbnail For more ways to keep your immune system strong, check out our Immune Booster Series:
Natural Vitamins and Gel Caps with Plants and Leaves Vitamins to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Keeping your immune system healthy is vital for everyone (even if you feel unstoppable). What makes things complicated is meas...

Wood Diffuser Misting Oils Into the Air Essential Oils for Immune System

When it comes to boosting the immune system naturally, essential oils come to most of our minds. But which ones are most effect...

Woman Cooking Immune Boosting Foods How To Boost Your Immune System Naturally

We all want to stay healthy and live long lives. For this to happen, we must know how to take care of our immune system so we...

Healthy Fruits Vegetables and Nuts Best Foods to Boost Immune System

(back to top)

Herbal Mana Logo with 3 Leaves and White Glow -- thumbnail For more ways to keep your immune system strong, check out our Immune Booster Series:


    • Essential Oils for Immune System

      When it comes to boosting the immune system naturally, essential oils come to most of our minds. But which ones are most effect...



Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published