Immune Boosting Foods to fight Infection

Getting the right nutrients from food may keep your immune system strong. If you are looking to fight off colds and flu, you should consider what you eat.

Your immune system is made up of specialized organs, cells, and tissues that all work together to protect your body from infections. It will identify a pathogen (such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites) and then work to destroy it so it is no longer a threat to the body. This system is supported by a healthy lifestyle.

While variety is the key to good nutrition, the following foods listed are high in nutrients known to strengthen your immune system. Also remember, getting enough sleep (7-9 hours each night), and drinking enough water (8-10 glasses) are important to your immune system.

REMEMBER: Rather than thinking of your immunity as an isolated system that just an ingredient can boost, think about the other healthy lifestyle choices you need to make to ensure your body is strengthened. It is a system, with a complex network so make sure that you are getting a balance. Make sure you are not only looking after your gut/eating right, but getting enough sleep, exercise, meditation/yoga/relax mentally relax time, minimal stress, Vitamin D (from the Sun) in order for your immune system to perform at its peak. 

VITAMIN C, A & Carotenoids

  1. Citrus Fruits are high in the water-soluble Vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells which are key to fighting infection. The fact that it is water-soluble means that your body cannot store it for long, so you regularly =need to eat more. It is high in fruits like grapefruit, naartjies, and oranges. If you can’t get access to regular citrus fruit, you can get a supplement of Vitamin C.
  2. Red/Yellow peppers have just as much vitamin C as citrus, and are also easy to enjoy in meals fresh or cooked in a stir-fry, roast, curry etc. Yhey can be frozen for future use.
  3. Broccoli is an absolute superfood, it is packed with Vitamin A, C and E, and fibre. Fibre is also key to feeding the good bacteria in your gut. With both broccoli and red pepper, the number of vitamins in food can be destroyed by heat, so it is best to enjoy raw or slightly steamed or flash-fried.
  4. Kiwi & Papaya/PawPaws actually have more immune-supportive Vitamin C than citrus fruits. Kiwis are currently in season in South Africa, so they are readily available and affordable in the supermarkets. They are packed with folate, potassium, Vitamin C and K to keep your body feeling at its best.
  5. Garlic has long been known to help fight infections but be sure to get it fresh. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties
  6. Carrots are high in carotenoids, which are converted into Vitamin C, which helps to regulate the immune system. Carrots have a longer shelf life than other carotenoids like kale and mango.
  7. Bright Yellow/Orange Foods: Winter Squash, Sweet Potato, Carrots
  8. Dark Greens like Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Spring Onion


Probiotics boost your immune system and control the growth of bad gut bacteria. It is present in yoghurt and other cultured or fermented foods. It can also be taken as a supplement.

  1. Yoghurt, kombucha, and Miso
  2. Ginger helps fight infection and helps fight viruses.
  3. Turmeric, Fennel, Cumin



Vitamin E is also important in boosting and regulating your immune system

  1. Almonds are rich in Vitamin E, but it can be found in many nuts which also have a high level of healthy fats. As it is fat-soluble it needs fat for our body to best absorb it.
  2. Sunflower seeds, high in magnesium And Vitamin B6 are also high in Vitamin E


    Zinc is not mentioned too often, as we do not need much but we do need it to make sure our immune system’s cells function properly. (Note too much is not good either!)

  3. Pumpkin Seeds & Hemp Hearts/Seeds provide zinc and protein, especially for a plant-based lifestyle.
  4. Shellfish are high in Zinc. If you don’t shellfish you can get zinc from whole grains, legumes (such as lentils or chickpeas) tofu, nuts, and seeds, as well as good quality meat.
  5. Eggs are also a great way to get in zinc and protein.

12. White button mushrooms are a good source of bioactive, including beta-glucan, an immune-stimulating dietary fiber.

A trip to the shops to get the right foods is a good start to boosting your health and immune system but, there are other basic measures to protect you from flu, colds and other illnesses, such as washing your hands regularly.

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Source:,, 15 Foods that Boost the Immune System by James Schend.

The Doctor’s Kitchen – Eat to beat Illness.