Can Foods Help Support the Immune System?
The immune system plays a pivotal role in overall health. In short, it is the body’s first line of defense that keeps us healthy.
Switching up your diet is one of the best strategies for how to support your immune system health naturally. In fact, many foods provide an array of specific nutrients that can help support immune function and support a healthy you.
Fruits and vegetables, for example, are a great source of vitamin C, which is an important water-soluble vitamin that, generally, supports a healthy immune system. Other foods like nuts, seeds and fatty fish are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that can help support healthy cardiovascular function and healthy cognitive function.
Some ingredients are also high in antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds, which may support a healthy immune system.
Loading up on a few of the top immune system–supporting foods for adults is a simple way to promote immune system health while also squeezing a variety of essential nutrients into your daily diet.
Healthy immune system–supporting foods like fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are typically rich in the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants necessary to support immune system health. Not only that, but these foods can also provide other key nutrients as well, including fiber, protein and good fats.
Here are a few suggested healthy immune system–supporting foods for kids and adults:
- Fruits: apples, oranges, lemons, limes, kiwi, papaya, melons, berries
- Vegetables: bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, kale, cauliflower
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts
- Seeds: chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
- Protein Foods: grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry, eggs, tempeh, yogurt, legumes
- Whole Grains: couscous, quinoa, brown rice, oats, farro, barley, buckwheat
- Fats and Oils: avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter
- Herbs and Spices: ginger, garlic, cinnamon, black pepper
- Beverages: green tea, kombucha, coconut water, kefir
Try mixing and matching some of these healthy immune system-supporting foods in your favorite recipes.
Foods to Avoid
Just as important as enjoying a variety of foods that support a healthy immune system is limiting your intake of certain foods.
Foods that are heavily processed and refined, in particular, often contain ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives, that you should avoid.
Other products like baked goods or refined carbs also often contain high amounts of added sugar, which can take a toll on many aspects of health, including immune system health. Meanwhile, processed meats should be avoided, too.
Here are a few foods that you may want to limit or avoid to support immune system health:
- Processed Foods: fried foods, baked goods, fast food, convenience meals
- Refined Carbs: white bread, pasta, crackers, chips, tortillas
- Processed Meats: bacon, salami, bologna, beef jerky, lunch meats
- Sugary Beverages: soda, fruit juice, sweet tea, sports drinks, energy drinks
- Added Sugar: high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, agave nectar, molasses
- Making changes to your diet is one of the best strategies for how to help support your immune system health.
- This is because certain vitamins, minerals and compounds can help support immune system health and may offer other benefits as well.
- In fact, these nutrients can support cognitive function, cardiovascular function, joint health and more.
- Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains are a few of the top immune system–supporting foods.
- Meanwhile, heavily processed or refined ingredients are generally considered foods to avoid when it comes to supporting immune system health.
- Enjoy these foods that support immune system health as part of a nutritious, balanced diet to support a healthy you.