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The absolute best way to boost your immune system quickly is to incorporate a balanced amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and protein, plus at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. There are also a handful of specific foods that can help. Let’s look at some that have been scientifically shown to add extra punch to your immune system.
Foods That Boost Your Immune System Quickly
1. Vitamin C-containing foods
Vitamin C tops the list of immune boosters for many reasons. It acts as an antioxidant, increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells (just like antibiotics), and increases levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces and prevents entry by viruses.
Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells, and is consumed quickly during infections. Studies have shown that adequate intakes of vitamin C and zinc alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections, including the common cold.
Since Vitamin C is water-soluble, your body cannot store it. This means you need to consume it daily. The recommended intake for women above the age of 18 is 75 mg per day. Aim for 85 mg if you are pregnant and 120 mg if you are lactating.
Here are some great foods that will add vitamin C to your diet:
- Orange juice: 124 mg per cup
- Raw red Peppers: 95 mg per half cup
- 1 medium kiwi: 74 mg
- Fresh, sliced strawberries: 49 mg per half cup
- Raw broccoli: 39 mg per half cup
- Cantaloupe: 34 mg per half cup
Vitamin C supplements
If you you just can’t get enough Vitamin C in your diet, you can supplement with a chewable or some fizzy drink.
2. Chicken noodle soup
Grandma was right! Chicken soup really does make you feel better when you have a cold. Not only does it provide the fluids you need to help fight off a virus, its ingredients can help ease your symptoms.
Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, used blood samples from volunteers to show that chicken soup inhibits the migration of infection-fighting cells called neutrophils. This inhibition effectively helps reduce upper respiratory symptoms.
While the researchers couldn’t identify any specific ingredient, they found that many commercial soups had a similar inhibitory effect and suggested that it was the combination of ingredients working together that provided the effect. The tested soup contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper. Use these ingredients when you make yours.
In addition to being full of protein and calcium, yogurt has been shown to provide additional immune benefits due to its probiotic content. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that improve health in three ways: they fight off harmful bacteria, they improve intestinal function, and they play a role in maintaining a strong immune system.
An experiment done by researchers at the Swedish company BioGaia showed that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri reduced short-term sick-leave of employees, that was caused by respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, by 50%.
Although probiotics are available as supplements, choose food sources like yogurt first, since they are more easily absorbed by your body. Seven ounces of low-fat yogurt per day is just as effective in boosting immunity as taking supplements. To add yogurt to your regular meals or snacks, dip fresh fruit in plain yogurt or sprinkle some granola on top.
Look for yogurt that contains Lactobacillus reuteri. Not all brands have that particular bacteria, so check the labels.
Fish is considered to be an important part of a healthy diet because it is a great source of lean protein, it is rich in iron, and it is known to help cardiovascular health and brain function. But fish has also been shown to benefit your immune system.
Fatty fish (think salmon, tuna, and mackerel) have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation, increase airflow and protect your lungs from colds and respiratory infections.
Additionally, DHA and EPA act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes (cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful bacteria). Michigan State University scientists found that DHA-rich fish oils have the power to prevent disease by boosting the activity of white blood cells that fight disease.
Eat at least two servings of omega-3-rich fish per week. A serving size is 3 ounces.
Sometimes you can’t help getting sick, but if you make an effort to consume foods that support your immune system, you just might be able to avoid your doctor’s office this cold and flu season, and stay healthy year round. Remember to make these and other foods that boost your immune system quickly part of your daily nutrition intake.
Post written By Harper Finch