Seven Foods That Can Help You Boost Your Immune System


1. Echinacea

Echinacea is a flowering plant that grows in the U.S. and Canada, and it's been used as medicine for centuries by the first nations. There are nine species. Some of its common names are the purple coneflower or black-eyed Susan. The leaves, stems, flower, and roots are used to make supplements, liquid extracts, and teas.

Echinacea has a long history of use for treating respiratory infections. It’s not well understood how it works, but several studies show that Echinacea can help you get over a cold faster and reduce symptoms.

Echinacea can boost immune system
You should start using Echinacea at the first sign of a cold, Echinacea should not be given to children under 12 and has not been well studied for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women. People taking immunosuppressant medicines or with progressive systemic diseases like tuberculosis or multiple sclerosis or autoimmune conditions should consult a doctor before use.

2. Citrus Fruits

Fruits like oranges, tangerines, lemon, and grapefruits are high in vitamin C, which is recognized immunity booster.

Vitamin C is a well-known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps maintain the integrity of your skin, which acts as a protective barrier against infection. In addition, vitamin C can act as an antioxidant, helping protect your immune cells against harmful compounds formed in response to viral or bacterial infections.

citrus fruits

Therefore, getting enough vitamin C is a great way to strengthen your immune system and may reduce your likelihood of infection. Some studies also report that upping your vitamin C intake during the common cold may help you get better in less time.

That said, it might be more advantageous to increase your intake from plant foods rather than supplements, since plants contain other beneficial compounds that supplements may not, and some studies show the natural form of vitamins is absorbed better by the organism.

3. Probiotic-Rich Foods

Foods that are rich in probiotics are thought to help enhance your immune function.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and help stimulate your immune system.

They also help maintain the health of your gut’s lining, which may help prevent unwanted substances from “leaking” into the body and provoking an immune response.
In fact, recent reviews show that probiotics may reduce the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections by up to 42%.

Studies also show that when people do get sick, those who regularly consume probiotics are up to 33% less likely to need antibiotics. In certain cases, regularly consuming probiotics may also lead to a faster recovery from illness.

Most studies on the topic provided participants with probiotic supplements. However, it’s also possible to increase your intake by making probiotic foods a regular part of your diet.
Great sources of probiotics include sauerkraut, naturally fermented pickles, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, tempeh, miso, natto and kombucha.

4. Ginger

Ginger is rich in gingerol, a bioactive substance thought to help lower the risk of infections.
In fact, ginger has antimicrobial properties that may inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria, including E. coli, Candida, Salmonella and  and human respiratory syncytial virus.

Ginger’s effects may be especially potent if the ginger compounds are already present in your body before the infection occurs.

Finally, ginger also has anti-nausea effects, which may help decrease your nausea symptoms when you have the flu. More research is needed to determine effective dosage guidelines.

In the meantime, simply add a sprinkle of fresh or dried ginger to your dishes or smoothies. You can also sip on a fresh ginger infusion or use pickled ginger as a probiotic-rich palate cleanser between dishes.

5. Garlic

Garlic seems particularly effective at reducing the symptoms and duration of the common cold and flu.

Garlic also contains active compounds that may help reduce your risk of infection.
Apparently the hero of the story is Allicin, the main active compound in garlic, Allicin is thought to improve your immune cells’ ability to fight off colds and the flu.

Garlic also seems to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that may help it fight bacterial and viral infections.

In one study, participants given a daily allicin supplement experienced colds 63% less often than the placebo group. In addition, when they did get sick. On average, participants in the allicin group recovered 3.5 days faster.

In another study, participants given a daily aged garlic extract supplement were sick just as frequently as the placebo group. However, they reported 21% fewer symptoms and recovered 58% more quickly than the placebo group.

6. Berries

For many years, Native Americans have used berries to treat infections like the common cold.

This could be because berries are a rich source of polyphenols, a group of beneficial plant compounds with antimicrobial properties.

For instance, quercetin, one berry polyphenol, is thought to be particularly effective at reducing your risk of getting ill after a bout of intensive exercise.

Blue Berries

Studies also show that berries and their polyphenols have the ability to protect against the influenza virus responsible for the flu.

Berries also contain good amounts of vitamin C, which adds to their immune-boosting properties.

7. Moringa

Moringa Oleifera has an impressive range of medicinal uses with high nutritional value. Different parts of this plant contain a profile of important minerals, and are a good source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids and various phenolic compounds. The Moringa plant provides a rich and rare combination of cell protective anti-oxidants like Zeatin and Quercetin among others.

moringa smoothie

Various parts of this plant possess antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine, particularly in South Asia. 

Vitamin C. Is a stimulant for antibody formation; thus protects the body from infection and improves the immunity. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, or red bell pepper, papaya; etc., can provide the recommended dietary intake of vitamin C. However, Moringa contains seven times more vitamin C than oranges, and is not a synthetic form.

Zinc. This element support the functioning of the immune system and helps in wound healing, normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. Beans and nuts are the primary sources of zinc and hence are recommended for consumption.  The amount of zinc found in moringa leaves, pods and seeds are two times what is found in beans.

If a Flu or Cold already started, remember that Moringa Oleifera, has potential analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities, which can support easing the symptoms such as fever and general pain.