11 Power Foods That Boost The Immune System

The common cold has no boundaries. While there seems to be an uprise in sickness during the winter months, the truth of the matter is that there’s really no rhyme or reason for contracting a stuffy or runny nose, sinus pressure, overall fatigue and other dreadful symptoms associated with a cold.

That’s why it’s so important to regularly be eating foods that boost your immune system if you want to keep colds away.

Over-the-counter medicines seem to alleviate symptoms if only for a brief period of time, but sometimes the ingredients can be questionable for our wellbeing.

Eating power foods that boost the immune system is an easy and effective solution to preventing and fighting off a cold, with no bad side effects!

So while you can’t control every little thing in life, you can eat foods to protect your health and boost your immunity.

Add these 11 foods that boost the immune system to your grocery list this week!

1) Apples

Apples do keep the doctor away. Apples also are nutritional powerhouses, packing soluble fiber shown to lower cholesterol levels and are a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C. 

You can eat apples plain or cut them up in slices and dip them into a little bit of peanut butter or almond butter for some protein.

Or, how about having apples with a little caramel dip or a slice of cheese? However, you choose to eat them, they’re great for building immunity!

2) Yogurt

Wooden bowl of greek yogurt with spoon

You may have heard to steer clear of dairy when dealing with a cold, and while dairy can make mucus problems worse, yogurt contains probiotics which can actually help the body produce antibodies and fight off sickness.

By protecting your gut with the live active cultures found in yogurt, these cultures can help keep your belly and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.

3) Oats and Barley

Barley in burlap bag and white table

Fiber? Check. Antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities? Check.

Oats and barley are rich in the fiber beta-glucan, which aids in your body’s white blood cell response to bacteria, virsues and a variety of infections.

If you’re not big on cooked oatmeal, try adding raw oats to your morning smoothie. Barley can be easily added into soups for additional healing properties.

P.S. Not only do these foods boost your immunity but they speed wound healing too.

4) Garlic

Bulbs of garlic on burlap cloth

It’s a great additive to any dish, but garlic does more than just add some flavor to your food.

The cloves contain a potent antimicrobial called allicin that works to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. And if you’re serious about sticking it to that oncoming cold, try chewing a clove every 3 to 4 hours, or cut them into small pieces and swallow.

Just be sure to throw in a breath mint afterward!

Also, if you take in lots of garlic each week (say six cloves or so) you can lower your rate of certain types of cancer.

5) Fish

Raw salmon on table with lemon slices, peppercorns and salt

You know salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, those good-for-you kind that can protect you from respiratory infections.

Shellfish like shrimp, oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams have selenium which helps the body clear out viruses too.

6) Chicken Soup

Bowl of chicken soup with vegetables on table with large carrots and wooden spoon

We already know it’s good for the soul and makes you feel better when you’re sick, but if you load it up with immunity-boosting spices like garlic and onions, it just may prevent you from getting sick too.

7) Tea

Cup of black tea being poured into tea cup

Tea lovers rejoice! Not only is drinking a cup of tea tasty and hydrating, but it’s medicinal, too.

And it seems you can never have too much tea when you’re feeling a cold coming on. That’s because the green and black varieties are packed with antioxidants, including the immune-boosting amino acid L-theanine.

They’re also rich in flavonoids, which protect the immune system, too.

As for prevention, a Harvard study discovered that people who drank tea every day had immune system cells that responded five times faster to germs than those who didn’t.

Drinking tea also helps you stay hydrated, which is important in boosting immunity since drinking water aids in the production of lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells.

Want an even bigger boost? Squeeze a wedge of lemon and 1 tablespoon of honey into your cup.

Lemon, packed with cold-fighting vitamin C, also works to change the body’s pH level, which can work to ward off viruses and bacteria. Honey is antimicrobial, and helps to fight off infection.

8) Beef

Two filets of beef sitting on wood cutting board with spices and herbs

It may seem like an odd recommendation, but having the occasional beef for dinner can ensure you have enough Zinc, a nutrient where many people are deficient.

Zinc helps your body’s development of white blood cells, the cells that destroy the bad stuff (bacteria and viruses) so you definitely don’t want to be deficient.

If you don’t eat red meat, try chicken, fortified cereals, yogurt or milk.

9) Orange Fruits & Vegetables

Variety of orange colored fruits and vegetables on tabletop including butternut squash, carrots, papaya, persimmons, oranges, bell peppers, etc.

Carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, squash and other orange foods are packed with beta carotene, which works to aid in the health of the body’s mucus membrane.

This lines the respiratory and intestinal tracts, and the stronger it is, the harder time bacteria has entering the bloodstream and wreaking havoc on your health.

These orange fruits and vegetables are also loaded with vitamin A.

To get the most out of these fruits and vegetables, eat them raw, steam them for a side to your dinner, or chop them up and let them soften in your soup recipe.

10) Spices 

Variety of spices in individual dishes on white background

Spices like cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, chili peppers and ginger have been used for their medicinal values for centuries, most notably in the Ayurvedic tradition to break a fever.

Modern research is now confirming what healers and traditional medicine practitioners believe about many spices, too.

Ginger, for instance, helps to ward off illness. An anti-inflammatory that fights off viruses and reduces pain and fever, it contains sesquiterpenes, which is a compound that prevents the main cause of the common cold, known as rhinovirus.

Chili peppers can unclog a stuffy nose thanks to the primary substance found in them, called capsaicin.

11) Mushrooms

Baby bella mushrooms on white tabletop

Remember those white blood cells that fight the bad guys in your body? When you eat mushrooms you are powering up those white blood cells to fight for you.

Shiitake, maitake and reishi are the best (and most flavorful!).

Are you ready to go grocery shopping to protect your health and boost your immune system? Eat them year round for protection and health benefits galore!

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Graphic of various foods that boost immunity

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