11 Super Immune-Boosting Foods Everyone Must Have In Routine Diet

immune boosting foods

“Your body is already equipped with a self-defense mechanism. Immune-boosting superfoods merely fix the weak spots.”

Some people are much more susceptible to flu and bacterial infections than others.

If viral infection hits a family, they suffer most. When a chilly wind sweeps across the city, they are the first one to catch a cold.

As your body’s immunity is primarily dependent on your genes, it’s natural for people with moderate defense mechanisms to be more exposed.

That said, not everything is lost to the heredity. 

If one puts aside the inherent characteristics, nutritionists think some superfoods could also boost your immunity.

In this time, when coronavirus is running amok, it doesn’t hurt to take up immune-boosting foods in your diet. 

How Exactly Super Foods Boost the Immune System?

Your immune system is directly linked to your stomach.

There are certain “good” bacteria in your gut that fight pathogen—disease-carrying microorganisms—to protect your body from harm.

Then, there’re micronutrients such as Vitamin A, C, D, E, iron, zinc, and Selenium who perform their specific duties in fortifying your body.

Here, Vitamins are the crucial components.

Alber Szent-Gyorgyi—Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine—said, “A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill if you don’t eat it.”

As such, the logical step would be to replenish your micronutrient sources with immune-boosting foods.

With these arguments, I am sharing 11 powerful immune-boosting superfoods you might want to add in your pantry.


immune boosting foods
Yogurt boost your immune system by aiding microbes

Yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics.

Probiotics are those “helpful bacteria” I mentioned above that fights against infections right from your gut.

I realize the term “helpful bacteria” in the passage might appear a bit confusing to you but not all bacteria are diseases carrying vessels.

Anne Maczulak—a microbiologist who published a book “Allies and Enemies: How the World Depends on Bacteria”—shared that a human body and bacteria have a symbiotic relationship.

 “As long as humans can’t live without carbon, nitrogen, protection from disease and the ability to fully digest their food, they can’t live without bacteria, said Maczulak.

Your stomach provides the good bacteria food and shelter, and they reciprocate it with digestion and protection.

Their job includes breaking down the carbohydrates and fiber—which your body can’t digest itself—allowing your body to absorbs the nutrients.

Further, they release protective enzymes that boosting your body’s immunity.

As your stomach uses fermentation to digest the nutrients, these helpful bacterial are the heart of your digestion system and yogurt will increase their numbers. (Want to know more about boosting your metabolism? Check out “There’s a Cloaked Culprit Behind Your Growing Weight“)

Beside Yogurt, you can also use Sauerkraut, salami, sourdough, Kombucha, or even Miso soup as a substitute.

They might not be as easily available as yogurt, but as supperfoods they provide great source of microbes, nonetheless.

2. Shellfish

boosting your immunity with oysters
Boost your immune system with Zinc loaded oysters

As an immune-boosting superfood, Shellfish is particularly enriched with an essential mineral called zinc.

Zinc is the micronutrient that keeps your body from producing excessive B cells.

Often it happens that on the first sign of a pathogen, your body’s defense mechanism immediately vie for the kill.

Left unchecked, it tumbles out of control causing extreme inflammation and alarming fever.

Zinc rests a firm hand on the trigger happy response.

Daren Knoell—a professor of internal medicine at Ohio State University—found this intriguing tidbit during one of his experiments on the zinc concerning the immune system.

“The benefit to health is explicit: Zinc is beneficial because it stops the action of a protein, ultimately preventing excess inflammation,” said Knoell.

Interestingly enough, zinc shortens the viral infection during a common cold, as well.

By adding shellfish in your diet, you can protect your body from these negative effects.

If you are looking for any particular shellfish, oysters, Alaskan crab, shrimps, and molasses; they can maintain the recommended 10mg zinc level in your body.

For vegans, chickpeas might provide the necessary zinc. (Scroll below to find the benefits of chickpea)

3. Salmon

immune boosting vitamin D
Salmon is a great source of Vitamin D

After sunlight, if there’s one stock that contains a high concentration of Vitamin D, it’s the fatty fish named salmon.

Vitamin D, as you may well know, is popular for bone health. But on a closer look, it has a surprising effect on your immune system.

Vitamin D fuels the white blood cells in your body, while equally, decreasing the inflammation frequently caused by your body battling free radicals.

People who consume Vitamin D daily also experience less severe symptoms of flu and respiratory infections.

Vitamin D function may appear somewhat similar to zinc, but they both work collectively in boosting your body’s immunity.

Besides Vitamin D, salmon is also rich with components such as riboflavin, iron and zinc that boost your immunity.

A 100 gram fatty fish contains over 500IU of vitamin D, which is more than sufficient for a healthy person.

However, as eating salmon daily might appear a bit too much, the American heart association recommends twice a week for a healthy diet.

If seafood is not your preferred choice, I believe egg yolk is also an excellent source of Vitamin D.

And for vegans, I suggest almond fortified milk and mushrooms for acquiring the necessary vitamin.

4. Chickpeas

immune boosting foods
From the family of Legumes, Chickpeas are enriched with iron.

Our body needs iron to function well.

As oxygen carrying-vessel iron is a part of your blood and paramount to your immune system.

Failure to acquire a daily intake of 11mg iron, iron deficiency can bring severe consequences to your body.

“If you’re not getting sufficient oxygen in the body, you’re going to become fatigued,” said Paul Thomas, a consultant at the National Institutes of Health.

With this alarming premonition, your diet must contain iron-rich foods and chickpea is the easily accessible immune-boosting superfood.

Loaded with iron, zinc, and folate, chickpea covers your iron quota well and provide ample aid in building white blood cells, alongside.

Additionally, chickpeas embody prebiotics that helps your body absorb nutrients during your weakened state from cold or flu.

Normally, one cup of chickpea can sufficiently cover 50% of your daily allowance.

But if you combine it with Vitamin C enriched foods such as tomato or chili, your body will absorb even twice as much.

5. Broccoli

Immune boosting vegetables
Broccoli is a treasure trove of micronutrients

Just as every good thing comes with a catch; broccoli’s acquired taste is hooked with immune-boosting nutrients.

Though rarely favored among young and old, this superfood is highly enriched with Vitamin A, C, E, potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and much more.

Broccoli builds up your immune system with Phytochemicals, for starters.

The lutein in Broccoli prevents viral infections, and sulforaphane keeps the heart vessel healthy.

And that doesn’t count the numerous minerals present in this immune-boosting vegetable.

You gain a small amount of iron and zinc from broccoli which, I might add, are the major players in in boosting your immunity.

Broccoli can also fill 50% of your Vitamin C allowance with just a cup full.

“Broccoli is a life saver.” said Dr.Rangan Chatterjee, who wrote The Four Pillar Plan and BBC resident presenter.

He once suggested if you have a choice to pick one food, opt for broccoli.

With such high praise, if it hadn’t been for the unfavorable opinion by 70% of the population over its slightly bitter taste, I would have placed Broccoli at the top of the list.

6. Bell Pepper

immune boosting superfoods
Bell Pepper is an incredible superfood

This vegetable might seem an unusual choice to be here, but being a major source of Vitamin C Bell pepper is a powerful foe against respiratory infections.

Vitamin C in bell pepper—also known as ascorbic acid—is an effective antioxidant agent that detoxifies infections, repair cells, and boost your immunity.

Dr.Bruce Ryan Bistrian in his letter to Harvard health expressed that people who take Vitamin C have higher chances of preventing cold.

As bell pepper contains thrice the Vitamin C than oranges, it’s also a better choice to cover your vitamin C intake.

You can, of course, supplement it with vitamin C tablets—as many do prefer, but Dr.Bistrian believes organic food should be the first choice.

“The preferred mode of intake is food, although nearly 50% of Americans take a vitamin C supplement in some form,” says Dr. Bistrian.

Supplements are complicated sorts, particularly when taken in higher doses.

Somehow, the more you take the less your body absorbs it. For instance; your body consumes 98% of Vitamin C if the dosage is 20mg than say 1000mg.

Secondly, Vitamin C is water-soluble, which would require you to consume it daily.

Combining these limitations, it’s sensible to look into superfoods with a higher concentration of Vitamin C, to reduce the supplement intake.

The good news is since your body’s daily requirement is 90 mg of Vitamin C; you can easily stock it with half a cup of bell pepper.

If bell pepper is not to your taste, you can compensate Vitamin C with other rich fruits such as Papaya, kiwi, and, of course, oranges.

7. Carrots

Immune boosting vegetable
Carrots Possess Anti-inflammatory properties

Dr.David Samadi, the chairman at Lenox Hill hospital, once mentioned, if there are three foods one should have in their daily diet, its apple, walnut, and carrot.

While we can all declare Apple and walnut to be a superfood without a hitch, carrots surprisingly are a great addition to your pantry, as well.

Widely known as a vegetable for eyes, carrots are highly concentrated with Vitamin A and pectin.

Vitamin A possesses anti-inflammatory properties that build up the endurance of your immune system by producing regulatory T-cells.

It’s also a critical nutrient without which the regeneration of the stomach’s protective layers slows, risking infection.

Pectin, on the other hand, keeps the gut healthy by providing nutrition to the “good bacteria”.

As carrots are so easily available in the market I highly doubt anyone would have a problem acquiring the tasty immune-boosting snacks.

In any case, you can substitute carrots with other red and orange vegetables.

8. The Ginger Garlic Duo

immune boosting herbs
Ginger and Garlic lessens cold symptoms

Ginger and garlic have long been revered as immune boosting superfoods due to their powerful medicinal properties since ancient times.

Historically, during sea voyages when seasickness would strike the passengers, they were given ginger to abate nausea.

On land, laborers were handed garlic cloves to enhance their muscle strength.

It was quite evident early on that both garlic and ginger are incredible immune-boosting herbs that possess properties most beneficial to your health.

Let’s take garlic.

If you’ve noticed the garlic scent, which is hardly unnoticeable, it’s drawn from the sulfur compounds that particularly enhance the white blood cells in your body.

By adding a clove or two of raw garlic in your diet, you can lower the chances of catching a cold.

The Gingerol in ginger, on the other hand, is a classic solution for sore throat and inflammation.

The bioactive components have some massive antioxidant effects that boost your body’s immunity along with keeping cold symptoms at bay.

While I would not go so far as to say, it’ll keep the COVID-19 at bay as well, there’s no harm in fortifying your immune system against common flu.

Besides, if you must know, ginger also maintains your blood sugar and and cholesterol level.

9. Brazil Nuts

Immune boosting superfoods
Brazil Nuts boost your Selenium ratio

Native to Rainforest, Brazil nuts are highly enriched with Selenium.

Selenium is a mineral that is keenly associated with your body’s immune system.

It assists in cell growth, reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases, and prevents cognitive depreciation.

With one Brazil nut contains 96 mcg which covers your daily intake Brazil nuts possess an astonishing amount of Selenium.

By snacking on a couple of roasted nuts you may never need supplements to cover the selenium deficiency.

Apart from Selenium, Brazil nuts are also loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin E and phenols to provide aid to your body defense mechanism.

More, they have a higher quantity of copper, zinc, and magnesium. They all assist in boosting your body’s immunity.

Frankly, if broccoli was not in the contest, Brazil nuts might have taken the crown.

Since Brazil nuts are not typically common globally, you can substitute this superfood with oysters, whole wheat bread, and eggs.

They contain less concentration of Selenium but are effective, nonetheless.

10. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds are healthy snacks

Seeds, regardless of any kind and shape are well known for concealing powerful ingredients beneath their shells.

And sunflower seeds have their special place amid the best because of the higher accumulation of Vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a popular fat-soluble antioxidant that boosts your immune system considerably.

By enhancing the T cell capability, Vitamin E goes one step further in strengthening the defensive function.

Sunflower seed as an immune-boosting superfood contains a part of Vitamin E called alpha-tocopherol that specifically fights cell membrane damage.

This powerful function particularly aids those who are in their advanced years.

Lucky for us, sunflower seeds are a tasty snack.

If roasted, they can fill almost 50% of your daily Vitamin E intake from a mere once ounce.

But as an alternative, you can also get Vitamin E from almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.

11. Berries

Berries possess remarkable immune-boosting properties

They are one of those superfoods that one would hardly have any qualm adding to their diet.

With a tart and tangy flavor, berries are not only tasty but hold an astonishing influence on your immune system.

As berries of almost all types contain Vitamin C and flavanols, they defend your body from foreign strikes.

Furthermore, every berry owns their distinct place in your immune system.

For instance; Elderberries reduces the severity of the flu virus and boost respiratory immunity.

Blueberries protect your heart from cardiovascular diseases.

And Strawberries keeps your mind sharp.

As an immune-boosting delicious food, nothing could get better than berries.

I suggest adding a weekly serving of berries to your diet for a healthy outcome.

End Note

Taking multivitamins is one way to quickly boost your immune system, and no doubt an urgent need would require you to do so.

However, if you are otherwise healthy and blessed with organic superfoods, why not take advantage of nature?

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Find out more on Healthy life in 9 Healthy Lifestyle Tips To Enjoy A Longer Life.