Everyone knows that you are what you eat, but that’s especially true when it comes to your immune system. Eating nutritious foods that support your ability to fight off infection, disease, viruses and inflammation is key to staying well, especially in the colder months when colds and sore throats can seem like an everyday occurrence. Get your immune system in tip-top shape with these 10 nutritious (and tasty!) immune-boosting foods.
This one should be easy—who doesn’t love garlic? Allicin, a compound found in garlic, helps fight off cold symptoms and can even reduce the length of a cold if symptoms do appear.
Try: Use fresh garlic in your cooking, mash some up and eat with a small spoonful of raw honey, or simply eat a couple raw cloves every week. (Trust us, it’s not that bad!)
Whether it’s in the form of kombucha, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi (or the many other fermented foods you can make at home), probiotics help regulate the bacteria in your gut, keeping your intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.
3. Fish + Shellfish
Selenium (found in clams, oysters and crab) is beneficial to white blood cells, which in turn help rid your body of viruses. Meanwhile the omega-3s in salmon and mackerel reduce inflammation in your body (bonus: they help keep winter skin soft and moisturized, too). Just be aware of mercury levels found in fish, and use caution if you’re pregnant.
Speaking of white blood cells, compounds in mushrooms (specifically shiitake, oyster and maitake) have been shown to boost those little buggers, too.
Try: Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto, or add them to pasta, stir-fries or pizza
Cruciferous veggies—especially deep green ones like kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli—help keep your liver functioning optimally, meaning it can keep flushing out toxins and germs from your system.
Here’s another one that shouldn’t be hard to eat more of! Naturally spicy, warming ginger helps break down toxins in the lungs and sinuses, and helps fight off infection by clearing out your lymphatic system.
Lemons, like other citrus fruits, are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, but lower in sugar than oranges, grapefruits or limes. Not only will lemons’ antioxidants help keep you healthy, it also helps reduce inflammation, swelling and mucus production.
Blueberries (and raspberries) are extremely high in immunity-boosting antioxidants; that rich blue color is indicative of phytochemicals, which stimulate the immune system.
9. Coconuts + Coconut Oil
You know we love coconut oil for its many beauty, household, medicinal and culinary uses. It’s also high in lauric acid, which converts to a compound that ensures your body is ready to fight off viruses (it’s supposedly the same compound found in breast milk that helps babies build their immune systems).
Choose raw (preferably buckwheat, but clover is okay) honey for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It’s also effective against allergies!1