19 best foods to boost immune function
Whether you’re an athlete aspiring to consistent training or a parent keen to keep your kids healthy, everyone wants a robust immune system. Diet affects immunity, so here's 19 of the best foods to boost immune function
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Many supplements promise the earth, but most also have sweeteners, additives and preservatives included which deliver side effects you neither need nor want. Focus on a balanced whole food diet with plenty of fruit, veg and nutrient dense foods and give your body what it needs to keep healthy.
We've learnt what the immune system is and how it's impacted by food, so let's dive into the 19 best food to boost immune function.
1. Dark chocolate
A great treat and high in flavonoids too, aim for 70%+ cocoa content and you’ll be on the right track. Milk chocolate doesn't count - this is all about maximising your access to the awesome antioxidant power of raw cacao (which, handily, is also found in our delectable cacao flavour Elite Pre & Post Workout Shake).
Even with very dark chocolate remember it is high in saturated fat and therefore calories so consume in moderation.
We’re pleased to read plenty of research showing dark chocolate (in moderation!) boosts immunity
Broccoli is packed with Vitamin A and C and the antioxidant glutathione making it a prime food to include a few times per week.
We’re a bit crazy about avocados (who isn’t?) due to their healthy fat content with zero saturated fat and cholesterol. They’re loaded with fibre for great gut health.
Just 100 grams will provide you with about a sixth of your daily intake of folate, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin E and a range of B Vitamins.
One of the best sources of probiotics, kefir contains high levels of lactobacilli and bifidobacterial bacteria which is great for gut health. When you consider 80% of immune system cells reside in the gut, you’ll appreciate how important gut health is to immunity.
Kefir also reduces inflammation and increases antioxidants.
5. Citrus fruit
For centuries, citrus fruits have been used to combat common colds and other ailments
The classic immune boosting food group, citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes have been a go-to for tackling colds and fevers for centuries. Their high Vitamin C content increases the production of white blood cells which fights infections.
High in selenium and B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, both of which play a role in immune function. They also contain polysaccharides which are a sugar-like molecule that add to the equation.
Turmeric has stepped into the spotlight in recent years. A yellow spice used in cooking, it’s the curcumin content which excites scientists who’ve discovered its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Like kefir mentioned earlier, Greek yoghurt contains live and active cultures which feed healthy gut bacteria and is high in Vitamin D.
Perhaps the most nutrient dense food on planet earth, Spirulina is a protein powerhouse, aids digestion, improves brain function and increases antioxidants within your body, making is great for immunity.
Another with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,ginger’s been used for centuries by many cultures due to its perceived benefits for immune function.
11. Acai berry
Acai berries are another food high in anthocyanins, a flavonoid and potent antioxidant which combats oxidative stress and clears free radicals with the knock-on effect of boosting immunity.
12. Bell peppers
Bell peppers, particularly red ones, contain more Vitamin C than any fruit or vegetable and are also rich in beta-carotene which keeps your skin and eyes healthy.
13. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are high in the antioxidant beta-carotene. Once digested, this turns into Vitamin A which not only improves immunity but also prevents against skin damage.
Sweet potatos are a beta carotene haven
They contain the antioxidant-packed flavonoid anthocyanin which studies show play a positive role in upper respiratory tract infections.
Fights bacteria and skin infections. One interesting study which researched the impact of a range of foods and ingredients on the prevention and treatment of common colds found garlic
High in folate which helps our bodies create new (and repair damaged) cells. It’s also high in flavonoids and vitamins C and E and has even been shown to repair DNA and promote cell division.
A small handful per day of almonds is all that’s needed for a hit of Vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and fibre.
Is your diet already up to scratch? Add the final piece of the puzzle: just one spoonful of our Ultimate Daily Greens delivers organic kale, wheatgrass, broccoli, spirulina, chlorella and more to turbocharge your immune system
18. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds contain phosphorous, magnesium and high levels of Vitamins B6 and E. The latter of these is particularly potent in maintaining immune function. It’s one reason they’re in our Elite Pre and Post Workout Shakes.
19. Kiwi fruit
More vitamin C than oranges, plus potassium and vitamin K all wrapped up in a tasty, sweet bundle with a great dose of fibre too. Winning
What else can be done to improve immunity?
Of course, diet is only one aspect which contributes to a healthy immune system. But this system also relies on other boxes being checked and the following will also improve:
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Sleep plenty
- Wash your hands
- Minimise stress as far as possible
- Don’t smoke
Make sure your sleep hygiene is up to scratch to further boost your immune system