Last updated: May 8, 2023

Best foods to improve immunity

A colourful array of freshly sliced citrus fruits arranged on a wooden surface, best foods to improve immunity

The human immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that work synergistically to protect the body from infections and diseases. A robust and healthy immune system is crucial for overall health and well-being. Luckily there are everyday foods to improve immunity.

Vitamins A, C and E, and selenium are particularly important for supporting the immune system. 

The best foods to help improve immunity:

Leafy greens and an orange, some of the best foods to improve immunity

Citrus Fruits & Vegetables

Dark vegetables, particularly leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and citrus fruits, have high levels of vitamin C and a handful of antioxidants.  

  • Vitamin C – It is not unusual to turn to foods and supplements containing vitamin C when we develop a cold. This is good. It is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and supports the production of white blood cells. It also increases the production of cytokines. These are molecules that help coordinate the immune response in the body and improve immunity. 

This vitamin also improves the function of numerous other immune system cells that help the body respond to invading pathogens. 

Aside from the powerful immunity role, vitamin C also plays an essential role in producing collagen, healing wounds, and maintaining healthy skin and bones.

NutriKane I has ascorbic acid (vitamin C) included in the ingredients.

  • Vitamin A – carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach are full of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient for a healthy immune system, vision, skin health and overall growth and development.
  • Antioxidants – fruits and vegetables are high in anthocyanins and flavonoids, which help protect cells from damage and reduce information that weakens the immune system.
  • Minerals – fruits and vegetables are a great source of minerals such as magnesium and zinc, which are essential for a healthy immune system.
A garlic and onion, some of the best foods to improve immunity

Garlic & Onions

Garlic and onions are proclaimed in numerous cultures as a common remedy for colds. They are thought to improve immunity and immune system response in the following ways:

  • Antimicrobial properties – garlic and onions contain allicin and sulfides that help protect against infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – garlic and onions also contain compounds that can reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system. This helps reduce the severity of the disease.
  • Antioxidant properties – quercetin helps protect cells from damage and supports a healthy immune system.
A bowl of yoghurt, some of the best foods to improve immunity

Probiotic Foods

Most cultures worldwide have some form of probiotic food in their diet. Probiotic foods have live cultures of beneficial bacteria you consume. This is how they help improve immunity.

  • Improved gut health – probiotic foods help restore the balance of bacteria in the gut, improving overall gut health and reducing the risk of gut-related health problems.
  • Enhanced immune function – probiotics improve gut function by stimulating the production of antibodies and immune cells, such as white blood cells, that help fight infections.
  • Reduced inflammation – Probiotics reduce inflammation by reducing inflammatory chemical levels in the gut.
  • Improved digestion – probiotics help break down food and absorb nutrients. This promotes and supports a healthy immune system.

Word of warning – look for brands without added sugar and sweeten them naturally if required. Probiotic-rich goods include yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and fermented tofu.

A collection of seeds and nuts, some of the best foods to improve immunity

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients that support the immune system. Each nut and seed has more or fewer concentrations of the below health-promoting compounds. Add them to your salads, or enjoy a handful as a healthy snack to improve immunity.

  • Vitamin E – is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and can improve the function of immune cells.
  • Zinc – is essential for a robust immune system and helps reduce the severity of colds and other infections.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – reduce inflammation and improve the function of immune cells.
  • Selenium is a trace mineral essential for a healthy immune system and protects cells from damage. 
Red sorghum, one of the best foods to improve immunity

Whole Grains

Whole grains support the immune system in a variety of ways.

  • Fibre – fibre helps promote healthy digestion and reduces the risk of constipation, which can weaken the immune system.
  • B vitamins – Whole grains are rich in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folate. These are essential in a healthy immune system and protect cells from damage.
  • Antioxidants – whole grains are packed with antioxidants, including selenium and phenolic compounds, which protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation.
  • Minerals – whole grains are a good source of minerals, such as magnesium and zinc, essential for a healthy immune system.

Red Sorghum and sugarcane fibre, both amazing sources of fibre and prebiotic compounds are found in Nutrikane I.

Fatty fish, one of the best foods to improve immunity

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is vital for immune health due to its high omega-3 fatty acids. These play a crucial role in a healthy immune system by:

  • Reducing inflammation – Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation by decreasing the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body.
  • Improved immune function – Omega-3 fatty acids help improve the function of the immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and white blood cells, which fight infections.
  • Increased nutrient intake – fatty fish is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and selenium which are essential for a healthy immune system.

Try to consume fatty fish at least two times a week to improve immunity.

Turmeric and ginger, some of the best foods to improve immunity

Turmeric & Ginger

Many herbs and spices have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but turmeric and ginger are some of the most powerful and easily incorporated into our diets.

  • These root vegetables contain compounds such as curcumin and gingerols, which are anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation. Inflammation can weaken the immune system and increase our risk of infections.
  • Antioxidant properties – curcumin and shogaol in turmeric and ginger help protect cells from damage.
  • Immune-boosting effects – These both stimulate the production of white blood cells and increase the activity of natural killer cells which play a vital part in fighting infections.
  • Anti-viral effects – this is based on the presence of curcumin, gingerols and shogaols, which have been shown to inhibit the entry of viruses into cells, and the replication and spread of viruses, thereby reducing the risk of infections.

Whilst this is a great list of the best foods to improve immunity, it is essential to understand that no single food can guarantee a strong and healthy immune system. The magic happens when you incorporate various foods into your diet, immune-boosting exercise and stress management. A nutritious diet includes various fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, probiotic-rich foods and other nutrient-dense foods. 

You can enhance these interventions by including targeted medical nutrition – NutriKane I

This is not a supplement. It is ‘Food-as-Medicine.’ Using whole foods for all the primary active ingredients to improve immunity. 

Each NutriKane product has been scientifically developed to target modern health problems through careful ingredient selection and therapeutically analysed serving sizes or doses. A single serving of a NutriKane product provides essential fibres, nutrients, trace elements, and minerals clinically proven to improve gut and microbiome health. 

A healthy gut supports all bodily functions, including the immune system.

By <a href="https://nutrikane.co.uk/author/nutrikane/" target="_self">NutriKane Team</a>

By NutriKane Team

We are strong advocates for the healing power of nutrition. Through scientific research and development, it is our mission to create an effective range of targeted nutritional therapies to combat common conditions impacting human health. Learn more.
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