Foods That Boost Immunity

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For a strong immune system, you know you should wash your hands, get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated. Plus, there are several foods that can help to keep your immune system strong—ones you might consider adding to your cart during your next trip to the grocery store or farmers market.

  • Pomegranates: This fun-to-eat fruit is packed with powerful antioxidants and vitamin C to help boost your immune system. Plus, it has more benefits as well, including helping to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, supporting nitric oxide production, and potentially reversing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Pomegranates are also high in fiber, which can help support healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels and they also help to slow the progression of prostate cancer.
  • Spinach: This delicious leafy green vegetable helps to protect you from several different angles. It contains vitamin A which supports your immune system, as well as mucosal tissues throughout your body that help to keep germs at bay. Plus, it contains vitamin C which is a powerful immune-booster and vitamin E, which helps to protect the lungs and liver.
  • Broccoli: An important cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. It contains vitamin K, vitamin E, chromium, potassium, magnesium, and folic acid—and is loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C. Broccoli is also a good source of quercetin, a potent flavonoid and antioxidant that has antiviral properties as well as histamine regulating effects—in fact, you can think of quercetin as a “natural antihistamine.” Plus, broccoli contains sulforaphane which turns on the body’s ability to generate antioxidants which help to fight off harmful free radicals.
  • Onions: Onions are filled with immune-boosting nutrients like selenium, sulfur compounds, zinc, and vitamin C. Plus, like broccoli, they are one of the best sources of quercetin, which has antiviral properties. Plus, onions provide additional health benefits, including helping to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and clot formation and helping to lower blood sugar.
  • Garlic: This pungent member of the onion family contains several compounds—including allicin—that have antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Together, they boost your immune system. Plus, garlic is an excellent natural blood thinner, helps to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, and may protect the blood vessels from developing atherosclerosis.
  • Ginger: Ginger is filled with immune-boosting benefits, making it a “go-to” ingredient in many of my healthy recipes. First off, ginger is antibacterial so it helps support the immune system and it can help to prevent nausea and soothe an upset stomach. Ginger is also a natural blood thinner and contains a phenolic anti-inflammatory compound called gingerol that may be responsible for relaxing blood vessels.
  • Protein: Animal sources of protein, such as beef, contain important nutrients—including carnosine, anserine, creatine, and taurine—which help to fight infections by boosting the metabolism and function of your immune system cells. If you’re a vegetarian, eating undenatured whey protein has been shown to inhibit the growth of some viruses.

To stay healthy, I encourage you to include as many of these immune-boosting foods to your diet as you can. Plus, here are some of my favorite immune-boosting recipes.

Immune-Boosting Virus & Flu Buster

Makes 4 servings.

  • 1 organic apple
  • 1-2 organic lemons
  • 4 organic oranges
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (raw, unpasteurized if available)
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric powder (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup filtered water

There are two ways to prepare it:

  1. If you have a juice extractor, juice the apple and ginger together. Then, freshly squeeze the lemons and oranges. Combine all the contents (juice from apple/ginger, and juice from oranges/lemons, honey, turmeric, and a pinch of cayenne) into a mug and add some boiling water to taste.
  2. If you have a Vitamix® or Blendtec® blender, blend the apple, ginger, and one cup of hot water on high for 20 seconds. Then, strain the fiber using a fine stainless-steel strainer or cheesecloth. Combine the liquid contents from the blender with freshly squeezed lemons and oranges, honey, turmeric, and cayenne. If you choose, you can warm it up on the stove to your desired temperature.

Garlic-Ginger Immune Booster

Makes 1 serving.

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1, 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • ½ organic lemon
  • 1-2 tsp of honey (raw, unpasteurized if possible)

Finely chop the garlic clove and the piece of ginger and put it into a mug. Squeeze in the lemon half and pour in 1 cup boiling water. Stir in 1-2 tsp of honey to desired sweetness. Cover and let sit until it is cool enough to drink (roughly 10 minutes).

Lemon, Ginger, Honey Immune-Boosting Remedy

Makes about 8 servings.

  • 2 organic lemons
  • 2, 3-inch pieces of fresh ginger
  • Honey (raw, unpasteurized if available)

Thinly slice lemons and ginger and mix. Add to a 12 oz. mason jar and use a spoon to compress the contents toward bottom of the jar. Add honey until the level reaches the top of the jar and shake vigorously to mix the lemon juice and honey together. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

To serve, add 2 tablespoons to your favorite tea blend, or simply add it to hot water. After a couple of uses, I recommend topping off the mixture by adding additional freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey to help prevent spoilage.

Dr. Drew Sinatra

Meet Dr. Drew Sinatra

Dr. Drew Sinatra is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and self-described “health detective” with a passion for promoting natural healing, wellness, and improving quality of life by addressing the root cause of illness in patients of all ages. His vibrant practice focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and finding missed connections between symptoms and health issues that are often overlooked by conventional medicine.

More About Dr. Drew Sinatra