Immune System Support Diet

by | Jan 25, 2021 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

You need to take care of your overall health. In addition to exercising regularly, it is also important for you to think about your immune system. Your immune system plays a vital role in fighting bacterial and viral infections that would otherwise cause you serious complications. Your immune system includes your white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, cytokines, and even your skin. Therefore, if you want to reduce your chances of getting sick, you must regularly think about your immune system. 

The foundation of your immune system is your diet. As a result, it is critical to take a closer look at the immune system support diet. When you eat a well-rounded diet, you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to fight back against harmful bacterial and viral infections that would otherwise do you harm.

Essential Foods To Boost Your Immune System

First, it is essential to note that no single dietary supplement will directly target and kill bacterial or viral infections. Instead, the goal of eating this immune system support diet is to provide your immune system with the building blocks it needs to build more antibodies and white blood cells that will keep your body healthy.

If you are a picky eater, the good news is that there are plenty of options on the immune system support diet you can try. You don’t need to eat everything on this list; however, take a well-rounded approach to your diet. That way, you can provide your body with all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to remain healthy. Some of the key members of the immune system support diet include:

Eat a Few Citrus Fruits

One of the first things that people reach for when they are feeling sick is citrus fruits. Some of the most common examples of citrus fruits include oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, and limes. People reach for these citrus fruits because they know that vitamin C is an essential building block of the immune system. With so many citrus fruits, it is easy to add a dose of citrus at just about any meal.

Suppose you are trying to consume plenty of vitamin C as part of your immune system support diet. In that case,  note that your body does not store any vitamin C. Therefore, you need to consume vitamin C daily to keep your body healthy. Women need to consume 75 mg of vitamin C daily, while men need 90 mg of vitamin C.

If you reach for a vitamin C supplement, find a supplement that will be released gradually. If you try to take a giant slug of vitamin C simultaneously, remember that your body cannot store it. Therefore, it is only going to be able to digest a certain amount at a time. Your body will simply eliminate the rest in your urine or stool.

If you are looking to incorporate more vitamin C in your diet, consider eating fruit for dessert instead of chocolate or candy. Or, you can mix fruit into a fruit salad. Finally, consider adding fruit as a topping to some of your baked goods. These are a few of the easiest ways that you can incorporate more citrus fruits into your diet.

Adding citrus to your diet is a great way to ensure you’re getting all the antioxidants you need to stay healthy. Let Noom help you see how fruit fits into a balanced diet.

Give Papaya a Try

Another food that you should consider trying is papaya. Papaya is not technically a citrus fruit; however, it is still a tremendous source of vitamin C. Therefore, similar to other fruits, you need to consider incorporating it into your diet. One of the significant advantages of eating papaya is that it contains twice the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, making it exceptional compared to other fruits.

Papayas get their name from an important enzyme called papain. Papain is known to possess a wide variety of anti-inflammatory effects that can help your body fight infections. Finally, papaya also contains a wide variety of other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and folate. Therefore, this is a well-rounded fruit that is going to benefit not only your immune system but several other organ systems as well.

Papaya is a grapefruit for you to add to a dessert dish, a fruit salad, or even baked goods. Because papaya is not nearly as acidic as citrus fruit, this is an excellent way for you to cut the acidity of whatever you are eating.

Branch Out with Some Yogurt

In addition to fruit, it is also a good idea for you to consider eating yogurt regularly. When you look for yogurt that will provide you with an immune system boost,  read the label carefully. 

You want to identify yogurt that says that it contains live and active cultures. For example, Greek yogurt is an excellent option because it contains live, active cultures, and it has a tremendous amount of protein while keeping its carbohydrate count relatively low. Speaking of sugar, it is a good idea for you to target plain yogurt instead of sugary flavored varieties. If you want to make your plain yogurt taste a little bit better, consider adding a drizzle of honey on top.

Even though yogurt is a good source of calcium and protein, it can also have a lot of vitamin D. Look for a brand of yogurt that has been fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for regulating your immune system. It can also help you boost your natural defenses against certain diseases. There are even clinical trials that are taking a closer look at its impact on coronavirus.

Make Sure To Eat Plenty of Poultry

When you are sick, there is a good chance that you reflexively reach for a bowl of chicken soup. Even though it will warm you up and make you feel better, you are probably also craving it because your body understands that poultry is going to play a role in helping you fight back against infections. Chicken soup can help you reduce inflammation, which is vital as you are fighting a cold. However, poultry contains a wide variety of other nutrients that can help you keep your immune system functioning strong.

Poultry, such as turkey and chicken, contains a tremendous amount of vitamin B6. Only 3 oz of chicken meat or turkey meat contains close to a third of your daily recommended amount of vitamin B6. Therefore, there is a good chance that the chicken you eat at dinner includes all of the vitamin B6 that you need daily.

Vitamin B6 plays a significant role in numerous reactions throughout your body, including generating cells of your immune system. If you decide to make broth or stock from chicken bones, there is a good chance that it will contain something called chondroitin, which is incredibly important for your immune system.

Fortunately, turkey and chicken are among the most versatile meats available. Therefore, you can do just about anything with them to incorporate them into your diet. You can slice them up and place them on sandwiches. Or you can mix them in a stir-fry dish or pasta. Make sure that you eat plenty of poultry if you want to keep your immune system healthy. This can help you fight bacterial and viral infections.

Even if you’re not a fan of poultry, your body still needs the vitamins and nutrients it offers. Let Noom teach you how to get all the nutrition you need by eating the foods you enjoy.

Grab a Handful of Almonds

To keep your immune system healthy, target vitamin E. Even though vitamin C receives a lot of attention, vitamin E is just as important. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means that it requires fat for your body to absorb it properly. That is where nuts, such as almonds, can be helpful. Almonds are one of the most significant sources of vitamin E in the world. Furthermore, vitamins also have healthy fats, meaning that your body will absorb vitamin E in almonds with ease.

A cup of almonds will provide you with all of the vitamin E that you need to keep your body functioning. Vitamin E plays several roles in your immune system. Vitamin E helps widen your blood vessels. As a result, your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are not going to clot as quickly as they flow through your blood vessels. Furthermore, vitamin E is a common way that cells interact with each other. Therefore, this is also important for keeping your immune system organized.

If you are looking for ways to get more vitamin E in your diet to protect your immune system, almonds are a great place to start. Furthermore, there are countless by that you can eat more almonds. For example, a lot of people simply like to cook almonds straight. Other people like to cook them and throw them on top of cheese, vegetables, and even mix them with hummus. You can even add almonds to your cereal or yogurt. With so many ways to eat almonds, you should not have trouble keeping your vitamin E levels high for your immune system.

Chew on a Handful of Sunflower Seeds

Another food that you might want to eat regularly to keep your immune system healthy is sunflower seeds. Besides containing plenty of vitamin D, sunflower seeds also have many other vital nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium.

Furthermore, sunflower seeds are one of the most significant sources of selenium in the world. A single ounce of sunflower seeds contains nearly half of the selenium that you need daily. 

Furthermore, many studies have taken a closer look at selenium’s role in fighting viral and bacterial infections. Even though it is true that a lot of these studies have taken place in animals, selenium has shown to be effective in boosting the immune system’s ability to fight back against bacteria and viruses.

If you are looking for ways to eat more sunflower seeds, many people prefer to chew them straight. Or, you can shell your sunflower seeds, cook them, and add them to a wide variety of pasta and rice dishes. Sunflower seeds are a versatile food that you can add to just about anything.

Add Some Spice To Your Food with Turmeric

Turmeric has received a tremendous amount of attention during the past few years because of its potent health benefits. When you think about turmeric, you probably think about the potent spice that provides curry with its kick. It is a bright yellow, bitter spice that has been used for years as an anti-inflammatory. For example, turmeric is helpful when it comes to treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The reason why turmeric looks the way it does is it contains a lot of curcumin. Curcumin plays a role in providing turmeric with its color.

Curcumin has been a source of a lot of research when it comes to its antiviral properties. These antiviral properties can come in handy in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Even though research is still somewhat limited, early studies have shown that curcumin can play a role in helping the immune system fight back against certain viral infections. Because turmeric has been the focus of numerous health studies in recent years, there’s a good chance that curcumin’s antiviral effects will be investigated further.

If you would like to incorporate turmeric in your diet as a way to power your immune system, the good news is that there are plenty of options at your disposal. There are countless types of curry that you can make that contain high amounts of turmeric. This includes red curry, green curry, yellow curry, coconut curry, and countless other varieties.

Of course, there are plenty of non-curry dishes that you can use to incorporate more turmeric as well. For example, a lot of basic stir fry dishes including, rice and noodles, contain turmeric. Finally, there are even supplements that you can take to add more turmeric directly to your diet. 

Ensure that you give turmeric a try if you want to provide your immune system with a bit of a boost.

Want to find new ways to incorporate turmeric into your diet? Let Noom guide you with personalized meal plans.

Sip on a Cup of Green Tea

Try green tea for an extra boost to your immune system. Green tea has a wide variety of health benefits, and many people like to drink green tea because it helps them relax. Also, green tea is packed with flavonoids, which are a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are essential for protecting your immune system as you fight back against infections. Green tea sets itself apart because it is incredibly high in a specific antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate, usually shortened to EGCG. EGCG has been studied closely and has been shown to boost the immune system. In contrast, black tea doesn’t contain nearly as much as EGCG because it goes through a fermentation process that destroys the compound in the process. Because green tea is not fermented, its content of EGCG is preserved.

In addition to EGCG, green tea also contains a lot of L-theanine. L-theanine is a powerful compound that can provide you with a wide variety of health benefits; however, it plays a significant role in helping your T-cells fight back against germs, as numerous studies have shown.

If you want to incorporate more green tea in your diet, it is a natural caffeine source. Unless you’re drinking decaf, avoid it in the evenings. Even though it may take some adjustments, green tea can play a critical role in helping you keep your immune system as healthy as possible.

Crush Up Some Garlic in Your Food

If you are looking for an ingredient found in just about every cuisine worldwide, you have probably thought about garlic. Some people say that they do not like garlic; however, the reality is that they probably haven’t tried it! It is challenging to add too much garlic into your food, and the good news is that garlic is beneficial for your immune system health. In addition to adding a pleasant thing to your food, it will help you fight back against bacteria and viruses.

If you wonder where garlic gets its immune-boosting properties, it seems to come from a heavy concentration of compounds containing sulfur. For example, allicin has been shown to help you keep your immune system healthy. One specific study took a closer look at this compound and its ability to fight malaria, one of the most common infections globally and is transmitted by mosquitoes. This review found that allicin, a common compound in garlic, helps people fight against malarial infections.

Even though it is true that garlic is potent when it comes to helping your immune system, there is a common misconception that garlic will directly kill bacteria and viruses. This is not the case. Instead, garlic simply provides your immune system with a boost. Then, your antibodies and white blood cells can respond appropriately to kill foreign invaders.

If you are wondering how you can incorporate more garlic into your diet, the good news is that there are countless options from which to choose. Some of the best ways that you can eat more garlic include:

  • You can add garlic to a fresh omelet that you eat for breakfast.
  • You can incorporate a significant amount of garlic in hummus, which also provides plenty of protein.
  • Think about adding some garlic to your stir-fry dish for dinner.
  • You can add plenty of fresh garlic to pasta.
  • They even make bagels that are topped with garlic.

There are plenty of ways that you can add more garlic to your diet. When you do so, your immune system will thank you, as this is one of the most potent immune-boosting foods out there.

Reach for a Fresh Ginger Root

Another common spice that people love is ginger. Ginger is another common ingredient that many people turn to when they fall ill. This is because they know that ginger can help people recover from illnesses quickly. For example, many people reach for ginger to help them recover from a sore throat or a strep infection. The reason why this powerful herb works so well is that it has anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, if you are experiencing a sore throat, which is likely due to inflammation and swelling, ginger will help you directly combat this. There is also evidence that ginger may help you reduce chronic pain and even help you reduce your cholesterol levels.

If you would like to add more ginger to your diet, there are plenty of available options. For example, ginger is commonly found as an ingredient in Asian dishes. Therefore, think about adding a little bit of it to your stir fry rice or noodles. Ginger is also a component that is found in numerous sweet desserts. Even though ginger will work well in these capacities, it is also important to remember that ginger does have a bit of a kick. This comes in gingerol, a relative of capsaicin (responsible for the heat you feel when you bite into a hot chili pepper). As a result, make sure that you measure ginger carefully and don’t add too much heat to your food!

Ginger is a key part of Asian cuisine. Noom offers personalized meal plans with healthy recommendations that will keep you from getting bored with your food.

Add a Bag of Spinach

When it comes to healthy vegetables, spinach may be at the top of the list. Even though many people are amazed at how quickly spinach will cook down when it is steamed or fried, even a small amount of spinach that remains is still packed with numerous nutrients that will help your immune system stay strong. First, spinach is incredibly important because it is packed with vitamin C. As has already been reviewed thoroughly, vitamin C is one of the most important building blocks of the immune system.

On the other hand, there are countless other reasons why spinach is vital for your immune system as well. For example, spinach is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are for scavenging free radicals, and this activity is critical to the health of your overall immune system. Furthermore, spinach is also high in beta-carotene, which is another crucial ingredient in keeping your immune system healthy.

If you want to make sure that your body can absorb as many nutrients from spinach as possible,  think about how you will eat it. If you want to preserve as much of the nutrient content from spinach as possible, it is good to eat it fresh. For example, adding it to a fresh spinach salad is a great way to enjoy everything that’s been it has to offer.

On the other hand, your body will have an easier time absorbing the spinach nutrients if you cook it like that. Make sure that you do not cook it too much, as you might damage the nutrient content. A lot of people like to blanch spinach before they add it to their food. Regardless, make sure that you eat spinach regularly. It has many nutrients that are beneficial for numerous organ systems throughout your body, including your immune system.

Be Sure To Cook Shellfish Regularly

When people think about foods that boost the immune system, they usually don’t think about shellfish. On the other hand, shellfish does play an essential role in keeping your immune system healthy because it is packed with tremendous zinc. Even though zinc does not receive the same amount of attention as other vitamins and minerals, it does play a role in powering your immune system. 

Some of the top foods that contain a tremendous amount of zinc include oysters, lobster, crab, and muscles. The daily recommended amount of zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. If you eat too much zinc, it can inhibit your immune system. Therefore, make sure you know how much zinc you are consuming when you reach for shellfish.

Zinc is essential because it acts as a cofactor for many enzymes that power your immune system. If you do not have enough zinc, then the enzymes in your body might have a hard time generating the immune system’s necessary components. Shellfish is an essential source of zinc, making it a critical part of this immune system diet.

Slice Up a Few Red Bell Peppers

Going back to vitamin C, you may think that citrus fruits are the most significant source of vitamin C. If so, then you would be incorrect. In reality, the biggest source of vitamin C comes from red bell peppers. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain nearly three times as much vitamin C compared to oranges. Also, red bell peppers are an important beta-carotene source, another building block of your immune system.

Even though we have already talked about the importance of vitamin C when it comes to building your immune system, vitamin C is also incredibly important for helping you keep your skin healthy. When you think about the layers of your immune system, your immune system starts with your skin. Your skin generates a physical barrier that has to keep bacteria and viruses out of your body. If you do not take care of your skin, it will be much easier for you to develop infections.

The good news is that vitamin C can play a critical role in keeping your skin healthy and robust. When vitamin C is combined with vitamin A, you have all of the ingredients you need to keep your skin healthy. Therefore, think about slicing up a few red bell peppers and adding them to a salad. Or, you can incorporate red bell peppers in your pasta. Finally, think about dunking red bell peppers into some fresh hummus. These are all great ways that you can incorporate more red bell peppers into your diet. When you consume plenty of vitamin C and vitamin A, you not only provide your immune system with the vitamins that it needs to generate more white blood cells and antibodies, but you also take care of your skin, which is the first layer of protection.

Vitamin C is a crucial antioxidant your body needs to stay healthy. With health tracking from Noom, you can be sure you’re getting enough.

Don’t Forget To Eat Your Broccoli

Among the various vegetables that you might eat, broccoli is one of the healthiest. Even though many kids do not like to eat their broccoli, they encourage them to do so. That is because broccoli is packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E. All of these vitamins work together to keep your immune system healthy.

In addition, broccoli is also an essential source of fiber. Fiber plays a significant role in gastrointestinal health. Because your gastrointestinal system plays an important role and eliminating bacteria and viruses after your immune system has killed them, you need to keep your gastrointestinal system healthy as well. Broccoli, a source of fiber, will help you do exactly that.

Furthermore, broccoli will also protect your immune system from harm, thanks to its high content of antioxidants. Antioxidants are for scavenging free radicals throughout your body. Free radicals can do severe damage to the DNA of cells, impacting cells that divide rapidly first. Because your immune system’s cells divide quickly as you generate more of them, you must scavenge free radicals to keep your immune system healthy. The antioxidants in broccoli will help you do that.

Research studies have shown that steaming them is the best way to access their nutritional content if you try to find ways to get as many nutrients from your broccoli as possible. Fortunately, there are countless ways that you can incorporate steamed broccoli into your diet. For example, you can simply dump some steamed broccoli on top of your pasta. Or, you can do the same thing to a stir fry dish. No matter how you decide to eat broccoli, remember that it contains many nutrients you need to keep your body healthy. Therefore, broccoli is one of the most critical components of the immune system support diet.

How To Protect Your Immune System During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Now more than ever, it is essential for you to think about your immune system. While the immune system support diet will be helpful during all times of the year, we are currently going through a dangerous global pandemic. The coronavirus is capable of leading to severe complications, even in otherwise healthy individuals. The complications could be deadly in people who have a weakened immune system or are otherwise vulnerable to viral infections. Therefore, it is critical to take a closer look at a few foods that you should eat to keep your immune system strong in the middle of the pandemic. A few examples regarding this immune system support diet include:

  • Vitamin A: Make sure that you take care of your digestive tract and the respiratory system by consuming plenty of vitamin A. Because the coronavirus targets your respiratory system, you need to eat things that will keep your respiratory system as healthy as possible. This includes vitamin A. Even though vitamin A is found in broccoli, an essential part of the immune system support diet, vitamin A can also be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables.
  • Vitamin C: Of course, vitamin C will be an essential component of the immune system support diet during the coronavirus pandemic. Vitamin C forms the foundation of antibodies, which are a critical part of your immune system. Antibodies stick to foreign invaders and act as signals to your white blood cells to gobble them up. Citrus fruits are an essential vitamin C source. You can also take vitamin C supplements or eat strawberries to boost your vitamin C Level.
  • Vitamin E: You need to prevent your immune system’s cells from being damaged by free radicals. To reduce cellular damage stemming from free radicals,  consume plenty of vitamin E. You can find plenty of vitamin E in foods such as seeds, nuts, avocado, and even some vegetable oils. Make sure to read the label of your oils to see if there is any vitamin E present.
  • Zinc: To ensure that your immune system functions properly, you must consume cofactors that your enzymes need to remain healthy. Zinc is one of the most common factors in the body. Zinc deficiency has also been linked to immune system dysfunction in the past. To keep your zinc levels high, some of the food you want to consume includes meat, seafood, beans, and nuts.
  • Protein: Finally, you also need to make sure that your immune cells have the proteins they need to reproduce. For example, your T-cells will not be able to do their job if you do not eat enough protein. Without your T-cells, you are not going to be able to fight back against pathogens. Even though you can find plenty of protein in meat, less expensive protein forms include beans, nuts, and eggs. Make sure that you eat plenty of protein to keep your immune system healthy.

These are a few of these specific nutrient sources that you need to target to keep your immune system strong during the COVID-19 pandemic. This immune system support diet has plenty of components to it. Therefore, you should identify foods that you enjoy while also providing your immune system with the building blocks it needs to remain healthy.

If you need help establishing a well-rounded diet, Noom is here for you. We use psychology to teach you how to make healthy choices and 1:1 coaching to keep you on the right track.

Make Sure To Think About This Well-Rounded Immune System Support Diet

You must make sure that your immune system remains strong. In addition to feeding your immune system, many of the food on this list is also essential to your other organ systems’ function. Even though it is more important than ever to think about your immune system support diet during a global pandemic, your immune system should remain strong at all times. You come in contact with dangerous pathogens regularly. The only way you will prevent yourself from getting sick is if you think about your immune system. Ensure that you consume plenty of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and protein to provide your body with the resources it needs to provide you with a robust immune system.