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8 Healthy Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Although the immune system relies on immune-fighting cells, a healthy diet can assist and accommodate. These eight foods to boost your immune system will start a food fight and decrease the risk of illness and infection.


The immune system essentially creates a war zone in a working, healthy body. Acting as a first line of defense, strong immunity can help combat any foreign substance trying to enter the body. Although the immune system relies on immune-fighting cells, a healthy diet can assist and accommodate. These eight foods to boost your immune system will start a food fight and decrease the risk of illness and infection.


The yolk in eggs contains high amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D is noteworthy for its classic effects on calcium and bone maintenance. However, this fat soluble vitamin also plays a role in immunity. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase susceptibility, or likely to be harmed, to infection. Eggs also contain vitamin B12, a B vitamin that works with folate to keep immune-fighting compounds active and strong.


Bunnies should not be the only ones with carrots in their diet. Although recognized for their role in good vision, vitamin A found in carrots can contribute to a healthy immune system. Like vitamin D, vitamin A deficiency has been associated with increased infection risk.


Like noted above in eggs, folate and vitamin B12 work together to maintain active immune responses. Folate is significant in spinach. Spinach is also a source of vitamin A and E, immune boosting vitamins. The antioxidant property of vitamin E helps the cells against damage.


Beef contains iron and zinc, both of which can boost your immune system. Too little or too much of iron and zinc has harmful consequences such as anemia. However, their balance can contribute to normal immune responses in the body. The protein and zinc found in beef also assists in the wound healing process.


Blueberries, especially, contain high amounts of antioxidants that give the berries their deep, vibrant color. Ultimately, an antioxidant helps to protect the body's cells from damage that could contribute to heart disease and cancer.


Like the colorful blueberries, grapes also contain antioxidants. Grapes contain selenium and vitamin C, both acting as antioxidants. Vitamin C has also been recognized for stimulating white blood cells, key immune cells that help the body fight against infections. A selenium deficiency can result in weaker immune responses. The powerful properties of grapes can boost your immune system.


The gastrointestinal (GI) tract acts as a barrier against "bad" bacteria that can ultimately bombard the body and create illness. However probiotics, found significantly in yogurt, are considered to be "good" bacteria. Research has shown that the presence of probiotics can improve the gut mucosal immune system by enhancing the intestinal flora, the network of trillions of bacteria in the intestines. Generally yogurt is a great probiotic source. For reassurance, look for names like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium on the ingredient label. Some yogurts are also fortified with vitamin D which has been acknowledged for immune strengthening.


Both vitamins C and D are found in brightly colored oranges and orange juice. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects against cell damage. The properties are vitamin D helps to decrease inflammation and increase anti-inflammatory responses.

Ultimately, the total diet has a greater impact on the immune system and nutritious foods will keep the body fighting. When in doubt, look for naturally colored fruits and vegetables as they are bursting with immune boosting nutrients. However, other risk factors such as smoking and physical inactivity can also lead to a weakened immune system. Encompassing a whole healthy lifestyle can ultimately strengthen your immune system and reduce the opportunity for infections and illness.

References: Aranow C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research. 2011;59(6):881-886. doi:10.231/JIM.0b013e31821b8755.

Ashraf R. Shan NP. Immune system stimulation by probiotic microorganisms. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2014;54(7):938-56.

Hoffmann PR, Berry MJ. The influence of selenium on immune responses. Molecular nutrition & food research. 2008;52(11):1273-1280. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200700330.

Micronutrient Information Center. Immunity. Available at:

Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on December 29, 2015. Updated on January 06, 2016.


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