It's a great way to get zinc, antioxidants, and B vitamins. Start your day with a spinach-packed detox smoothie ; lunch on a leafy green salad to enhance your immunity, such as this delicious spinach salad or this ultra-nutritious kale version ; or make a warming meal with this rustic Indian lentils with collard greens recipe -- it's simply delicious! Spinach may boost the immune system, as it contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants, including:. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells. Like spinach, broccoli is another great vegetable choice packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Papaya This tropical fruit is rich in beta-carotene, says Marber, which converts into vitamin A in the body.
Incorporating specific foods into the diet may strengthen a person's immune response. Read on to discover 15 foods that boost the immune system. A healthful, balanced diet plays a vital role in staying well. The following foods may help to boost the immune system:. Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a person's immune system.
A study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract's immune defense system. Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not. Dark chocolate contains an antioxidant called theobromine , which may help to boost the immune system by protecting the body's cells from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that the body produces when it breaks down food or comes into contact with pollutants.
Free radicals can damage the body's cells and may contribute to disease. Despite its potential benefits, dark chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat, so it is important to eat it in moderation. Turmeric is a yellow spice that many people use in cooking. It is also present in some alternative medicines. Consuming turmeric may improve a person's immune response. This is due to the qualities of curcumin, a compound in turmeric.
According to a review , curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Salmon, tuna, pilchards, and other oily fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. According to a report , long-term intake of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis RA.
RA is a chronic autoimmune condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a healthy part of the body. Broccoli is another source of vitamin C. It also contains potent antioxidants, such as sulforaphane. For these reasons, it is a good choice of vegetable to eat regularly to support immune system health. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene , a type of antioxidant that gives the skin of the potatoes its orange color.
Beta carotene is a source of vitamin A. It helps to make skin healthy and may even provide some protection against skin damage from ultraviolet UV rays. Spinach may boost the immune system, as it contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants, including:.
Vitamins C and E can help support the immune system. Research also indicates that flavonoids may help to prevent the common cold in otherwise healthy people. People use ginger in a variety of dishes and desserts, as well as in teas. According to a review, ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and is likely to offer health benefits. However, more research is necessary to confirm whether or not it can effectively prevent illness.
One review looked at whether taking garlic supplements containing allicin reduced the risk of getting a cold. The group of participants taking a placebo had more than double the number of colds between them than those taking the garlic supplements. However, the researchers concluded that more research is necessary to determine whether or not garlic can help to prevent colds.
Green tea contains only a small amount of caffeine, so people can enjoy it as an alternative to black tea or coffee. Drinking it may also strengthen the immune system. As with blueberries, green tea contains flavonoids, which may reduce the risk of a cold. Kefir is a fermented drink that contains live cultures of bacteria that are beneficial for health. Initial research suggests that drinking kefir may boost the immune system.
According to a review , various studies have shown that regular consumption of kefir can help with:. The majority of the research that supports this was carried out on animals or in a laboratory. Researchers need to perform additional studies to understand how kefir may prevent disease in humans. Sunflower seeds can make a tasty addition to salads or breakfast bowls. They are a rich source of vitamin E , an antioxidant.
In the same way as other antioxidants, vitamin E improves immune function. It does this by fighting off free radicals, which can damage cells. Almonds are another excellent source of vitamin E. They also contain manganese, magnesium , and fiber.
A small handful or a quarter of a cup of almonds is a healthful snack that may benefit the immune system. Oranges and kiwis are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is the vitamin that many people turn to when they feel a cold developing. While scientists are still not sure exactly how it helps, vitamin C may reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the human immune system. For people trying to avoid the sugar in fruit, red bell peppers are an excellent alternative source of vitamin C.
Stir-frying and roasting both preserve the nutrient content of red bell peppers better than steaming or boiling, according to a study on cooking methods.
Enjoying the 15 immune-boosting foods covered in this article may strengthen people's immune system and improve their ability to fight off infections.
That said, it is important to remember that the immune system is complex. Eating a healthful, balanced diet is just one way to support immune health. It is also essential to be mindful of the other lifestyle factors that may affect immune system health, such as exercising and not smoking. Anyone who gets frequent colds or other illnesses and is concerned about their immune system should speak to a doctor.
Article last reviewed by Tue 10 July All references are available in the References tab. Prevention and treatment of the common cold: Making sense of the evidence. A nutrition and health perspective on almonds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture , 86 14 , — Long-term intake of dietary long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of rheumatoid arthritis: A prospective cohort study of women. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases , 73 11 , — A review of its effects on human health.
Foods , 6 10 , Effects of different cooking methods on the antioxidant properties of red pepper. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. But this bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Also, research shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.
Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant.
EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells. Papaya is another fruit loaded with vitamin C.
You can find percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in a single papaya. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects. Papayas have decent amounts of potassium , B vitamins, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health. Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K , and vitamin C. It helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body.
Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity. Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorous , magnesium , and vitamin B Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function. Eating right is a great start, and there are other things you can do to protect you and your family from the flu, cold, and other illnesses.
Start with these flu prevention basics and then read these seven tips for flu-proofing your home. A healthy diet is key to flu prevention and a working immune system. Check out these 10 easy-to-make juices that carry the essential nutrients. The immune system is a complex fighting system powered by five liters of blood and lymph. Learn more about how your immune system protects you. Eating the right foods can have major benefits when you're sick.
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