What to Eat to Help Boost Your Immune System
So I got this idea to write this article as soon as I got back from grocery shopping...
While I was shopping, I noticed that a lot of the non-perishable foods (frozen foods, canned foods) was almost all gone. Then I noticed that all the produce like fruits and veggies were fully stocked. I was shocked! I even checked the pharmacy aisle in the grocery store and all the vitamin C supplements and immune support supplements were gone.
The coronavirus outbreak has led to many people panicking and buying food to stock up on... I totally understand, even our grocery haul was slightly bigger than usual. But we also didn't overstock to prevent having a bunch of food go to waste! With the panic surrounding COVID-19, I get why people are going for the non-perishable food. They want to make sure they're well taken care of, but just remember grocery stores will remain open! I urge you to buy whole, non-processed foods along with non-perishable food for emergencies.
Right now is the most important time to take care of our health, our immune system! After visiting the grocery store, I immediately started doing research on whole, natural foods that help keep your immune functioning the way it should be. From my research, I put together a list of the 10 best immune boosting foods so you can add them to your grocery list!
10 Foods That Boost Immune System
Many people try to prevent common colds or the flu by taking supplements or buy eating endless amounts of oranges. Vitamin C is known to help our immune system, but there are other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help keep us healthy like..
- Beta-Carotene: Has anti-inflammatory effects and boosts immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body.
- Vitamin E: Similar to vitamin C, this antioxidant helps support the body's natural immune response by destroying free radicals (toxic compounds that can impact cells negatively).
- Vitamin D: Produces proinflammatroy compounds in the body that can help reduce the risk of viral infections like respiratory tract infections.
- Zinc: Helps boost white blood cells which are known for fighting infections.
These nutrients (with a few others) help our bodies maintain a healthy immune system. So the foods listed below have one or more of these essential nutrients to help keep your body in tip top shape!
This is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put in your fridge! It has so many nutrients like beta-carotene, zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and E. It also has an array of B vitamins. These vitamins work together to keep your immune system functioning properly.
Incorporate it into your meals by steaming it with other veggies, adding it into your salad, make a casserole with it, or make a broccoli and cheddar soup!
Vitamin C is the vitamin everyone goes to after getting a cold. But why? Well that's because it's known to help boost your immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. Unfortunately our bodies do not produce or store it. This is why it's often recommended to eat foods rich in vitamin C daily.
Luckily, many popular citrus fruits are rich in this vitamin, they include:
- Oranges - A medium sized orange has 70 mg of vitamin c
- Clementines - One clementine contains 36 mg
- Tangerines - One medium tangerine contains 23.5 mg
- Lemons - Juice of one lemon contains 30.7 mg
- Limes - Juice of one lime contains 13 mg
- Grapefruit - Half of a grapefruit has contains 44 mg
For adults, the recommended daily intake is between 65-90mg. So you can easily meet your vitamin C needs by eating one or two of these citrus fruits, no need for supplements!
Garlic is widely loved for not only the taste it brings out in food, but also it's immune boosting properties. It gets most of its health benefits from the sulfur compounds that form when garlic is chopped or crushed. Allicin is the main sulfur compound that seems to give garlic it's immune boosting effects. Even better there's research to prove the positive effects it has on immune health...
Researches conducted a study to discover the effects of garlic on immune health. They had participants take a garlic extract for 90 days, and a group that didn't. The group that incorporated garlic to their diet experienced reduced cold/flu symptoms. 
If you don't already have this in your kitchen, then make sure to grab a few garlic bulbs next time you go to the store! They are super easy to incorporate into your everyday meals, just add a bit of minced garlic to your vegetables, meats, etc.
Just like vitamin C, ginger is another food that people turn to after getting sick. That is because it has antioxidant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Ginger can help reduce nausea, sore throats, and other inflammatory illnesses.
Ginger is an acquired taste, not many people enjoy it. One quick way to get some ginger into your diet is by purchasing a ginger shot or juicing it yourself. You can also grate fresh ginger into some hot water to make some tea or add some to a vegetable stir fry!
Green and Red bell peppers
I used to think oranges were the best sources of vitamin C, but boy was I wrong!
An ounce of red bell peppers contains twice as much vitamin C than an ounce of oranges 🤯Green bell peppers has slightly less vitamin C then red peppers, but at 120 mg per cup, that's still over your recommended daily intake. Aside from that, they are also a rich source of beta carotene which keeps your eyes and skin healthy.
I'd definitely suggest adding these to your grocery list! You can incorporate bell peppers in so many recipes like a veggie-filled omelette, a burrito bowl topped with grilled vegetables, stuffed bell peppers, and more.
Mushrooms are high in selenium and B vitamins (riboflavin and niacin) which are necessary minerals and vitamins to keep your immune system working. Shiitake mushrooms are even better because they also contain Vitamin D, 7 of the 8 essential amino acids, and they contain polysaccharides. So not only are they good for you, but the polysaccharides in them are known to boost immune function. 
Mushrooms, like shiitake, have a savory and rich, earthy taste. A great way to incorporate them into your foods is by grilling them with other veggies, adding them into your morning eggs or omelettes, or mixed in salads.
Nuts like almonds and sunflower seeds are packed with healthy fats and vitamins. Specifically vitamin E which is key to a healthy immune system. It acts as an antioxidant and wards off cellular damage and invasive bacteria.
Just a half cup serving of almonds provides your body with the daily recommended amount of vitamin E! Plus almonds have a lot of protein, making it the perfect snack to munch on!
During flu season, or when you develop a cold, what's the first thing you make or buy? Chicken noodle soup! It's the perfect meal when one is sick, it's warm and packed with foods that our bodies needs like chicken.
Poultry (chicken or turkey) is high in vitamin B-6, which is responsible for chemical reactions that happen in the body and for the formation of new red blood cells. The broth or stock used in chicken noodle soup contains nutrients that are helpful to your gut and immunity! Combine that with some carrots and celery, and you have a delicious, immune-boosting chicken noodle soup!
This superfood is a fridge must-have! This leafy green is packed with vitamin A, C, fiber, magnesium, and iron. The antioxidants and beta carotene found in spinach can help boost immune function and provide the body with nutrients for cell division and DNA repair.
To get the most out of your spinach, eat it raw or cook it as little as possible so that it retains the nutrients. Incorporate raw spinach to your diet by adding it to smoothies or adding it into your salad mix. When it is lightly cooked it's a great addition to eggs, pastas, grilled vegetables, or dips.
Yogurts with live and active cultures, like Greek yogurt, stimulate your immune system to fight off diseases. Plain yogurt with live and active cultures are packed with nearly every nutrient that your body needs! It has calcium, vitamin B12 and other B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and more. Some yogurts also contain probiotics and are fortified with vitamin D, which boosts our bodies natural defences against diseases. Probiotics also helps aid gut health and in some instances it can reduce the severity of cold symptoms!
Yogurt sounds like it does it all! But not all yogurt is created equal. If you want to reap the benefits of it then choose plain Greek yogurt rather than the sweetened ones that are packed with sugar. Plus you can always add your own mix-ins like honey, fruit, nuts, etc.
Eating just one of these foods consistently is not going to help you fight of the flu or cold. Variety is key to a healthy diet! Pick a few of your favorites and start adding them to your favorite recipes, or even better, create a new recipe! Here are a few other foods that have essential nutrients that help maintain a good immune system function: elderberries, kiwis, watermelon, papaya, sweet potatoes, and black and green tea.
This COVID-19 is scary, but remember, don't panic. Don't overstock on food because then there will be less for other that need it and it might end up going to waste in your kitchen! So just buy your essentials and pick up a few of these foods to help boost your immune system!
Staying active is just as important as eating healthy! I want to remind you that you can try the first workout of every goal on my Fit With Iulia App for free. I have two home programs that require minimal equipment, so you can workout safely at home. Try the first workout from my home programs for free then sign up for the 7 day free trial.
Hopefully this helps you stay active and healthy during this difficult time, we're going to get through this together 🙏🏼