In this article we'll look at the top 15 best ingredients to include in your meals for an immunity boost.

Top 15 Immunity Boosting Foods

Eating a balanced diet is the best way to ensure that your body is in tip top condition, but certain foods may help to keep your immune system strong. In our article below, weíll look at some powerful immune system boosters to work into your meals.

1. Citrus Fruits

Almost all citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C which is thought to help build up your immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. These white blood cells are key to fighting off infection.

Popular citrus fruits that are high in Vitamin C are grapefruits, oranges, clementines, tangerines, lemons, and limes.

Our bodies are unable to store up any unused Vitamin C, meaning you need to reach your daily intake. The recommended daily amount of most adults is 75 mg for women or 90 mg for men. If you decide to take a supplement, avoid taking more than 2,000 mg per day.

2. Red Bell Peppers

Red bells peppers contain almost 3 times as much Vitamin C as a Florida orange, once for ounce. [1, 2]

Red bell peppers are also a rich source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate. Itís packed with Vitamins A, C and E, as well as fibre and other antioxidants.

That being said, the key to keeping the natural power of broccoli intact is to cook it as little as possible Ė or not at all. A study has shown that steaming is the best way to keep the nutrients in broccoli. [3]

4. Garlic

Garlic is a health boosting wonder ingredient. Garlic has long been utilised for its ability to fight infection. It may also slow down the hardening of the arteries and may even help to lower blood pressure. [4]

5. Ginger

Ginger has long been an ingredient that many people turn to after becoming unwell. Ginger may help to reduce inflammation, like a sore throat, and prevent nausea. Ginger may also decrease chronic pain and lower cholesterol. [5, 6]

6. Spinach

Spinach isnít just rich in Vitamin C, itís also packed with antioxidants and beta carotene. These both may increase our immune systemís infection-fighting ability.

Like broccoli, itís bets to cook your spinach as little as possible so it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking makes it easier for you to absorb the Vitamin A.

7. Yogurt

Greek yogurts, or yogurts with live and active cultures, may stimulate your immune system to help fight off disease. Aim to get a plain yogurt rather than those with flavours and lots of sugar. You can always add fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey for flavour.

Yogurt can also be a source of Vitamin D, so you may want to select brands that are fortified. Vitamin D helps to regulate the immune system and may boost our bodyís natural disease defences.

8. Almonds

When youíre looking to fight off infection, Vitamin E shouldnít be overlooked. This powerful antioxidant is the key to a healthy immune system.

Because Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, it needs a fat to be absorbed by the body properly. Nuts, like almonds, have the perfect combination of Vitamin E and healthy fats. A 50g serving of almonds is enough to get 100% of your daily recommended Vitamin E.

9. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Vitamins B6 and E.

Sunflower seeds are high in selenium. Just 1 once of sunflower seeds contains nearly half of your recommended daily intake of selenium.

10. Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow, bitter spice that has been historically used as an anti-inflammatory to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Research has shown that the curcumin that gives turmeric itís distinctive colour can help to decrease exercise-induces muscle damage. [7] Curcumin has also shown promise as an immune booster and antiviral, although more research is needed. [8]

11. Green Tea

While post green and black teas are packed with flavonoid antioxidants, green tea stands out from the crowd thanks to its levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is a powerful antioxidant. In studies, EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. [9]

Green tea is also a good source of the amine acid L-theanine which may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells.

12. Papaya

Papayas are not only packed full of Vitamin C, they also contain a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects. Papayas also contain potassium, magnesium, and folate. All of these vitamins are beneficial to your overall health.

13. Kiwi

Kiwis, like papayas, are naturally full of essential vitamins including, folate, potassium, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C.

Vitamin C boosts white blood cells which are essential to fight infection.

14. Poultry

Poultry is high in Vitamin B6, an important component of many chemical reactions in the body and vital in the formation of new and healthy red blood cells.

About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains nearly 1/3 of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin B6.

Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatine, chondroitin, and other nutrients that help gut healing and immunity.

15. Shellfish

While it might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when trying to boost your immunity, some types of shellfish are packed with zinc. Zinc doesnít get as much attention as other vitamins and minerals within the body, but it is still important. Our bodies need zinc so that our immune cells can function as intended.

Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include oysters, crab, lobster, and mussels.

You donít want to go over your daily recommended intake of Zinc. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function. Men need 11 mg of zinc per day, while women need 8 mg per day.

Variety and Balance

While these foods may help to stimulate your immune system, eating just one of them wonít be enough to fight off the flu. Pay attention to serving sizes and recommended daily intake to ensure you get the right balance and variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet.