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Immune Boosting Foods To Fight Cold & Flu Season

Immune Boosting Foods To Fight Cold & Flu Season

During the winter months, we’re all more susceptible to colds and flu. It’s our immune system’s job to defend us against the unwanted viruses and bacteria that cause these illnesses. Eating a diet rich in immune-boosting foods is something we can do to strengthen our immune systems and protect ourselves from winter illnesses.

Today we’ll be talking about immune-boosting foods to fight colds and flu. We’ll also take a quick refresher course on what the immune system is, learn what the main immune-boosting nutrients are, and investigate what other actions we can take to boost our immune systems during cold and flu season. Let’s dive in!

What Is The Immune System?

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, organs, and substances (such as mucus and stomach acid) in the body that fights infections and diseases, helps the body to heal from injury, and clears away unwanted cells and pathogens. The key components of the immune system are:

  • White blood cells
  • Antibodies
  • Lymphatic system (thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, bone marrow)
  • Complement system

How To Boost Your Immune System During Cold And Flu Season

It’s vital to take action to boost our immune systems during cold and flu season. There are several lifestyle choices you can make that will help to strengthen your immune system in winter, such as:

  • Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet
  • Stay properly hydrated
  • Get sufficient high-quality sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get regular sunlight exposure, or take a vitamin D supplement
  • Manage stress
  • Wash hands regularly


Image by marcisim on Pixabay: How can you boost your immune system during cold and flu season?


Immune-Boosting Nutrients

Research indicates that diet plays a huge role in immune system health and function. Several different nutrients have been identified as vital for the growth and function of immune cells in the body, including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Copper
  • Folic acid
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Protein
  • Zinc

Food To Increase Immunity Against Cold And Cough

So, what should I eat for the immune system in winter? Certain foods and food groups contain a lot of immune system-boosting nutrients. Natural wholefoods tend to be much richer in immune-boosting nutrients than processed foods.

The foods that are richest in the nutrients essential for a healthy immune system are:

  • Fruits (especially berries)
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Some herbs and spices

Foods For Immunity Against Cold

Below we’ve put together a list of 12 top immune-boosting foods to fight cold and flu. Get ready to add these to your grocery list this winter!


Studies suggest that garlic enhances the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types such as macrophages, lymphocytes, and natural killer cells. Garlic contains various compounds (such as ajoene, allicin, and diallyl trisulfide) that fight viruses, including flu, viral pneumonia, and rotavirus. Garlic is effective at boosting the immune system when eaten cooked or raw.

Leafy Greens

Research from the Babraham Institute has shown that cruciferous greens (also known as leafy greens) such as bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale help to boost immune system function. ​​Leafy greens are rich in nutrients that help to fight infection such as vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta-carotene.

Citrus Fruits

Research suggests that citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes have very potent immune system-boosting properties. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which helps to stimulate the creation of white blood cells. Citrus fruits can be eaten whole or drunk in juice or smoothie form.


Research suggests that curcumin, an orange-yellow component of turmeric, is very effective at boosting the immune system. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects and is also a potent immunomodulatory agent that modulates the activation of immune system components such as macrophages, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. Turmeric can be added to dishes such as curries or mixed into smoothies.

Red-Colored Fruits And Vegetables

Research shows that red-colored fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, red onions, strawberries, watermelon, apples, cherries, and red cabbage contain high levels of immune system-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C and beta-carotene.


According to research, berries such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and blueberries are very beneficial for the immune system. Berries are packed with vitamins and nutrients and can be eaten whole or easily included in smoothies and juices.


Studies suggest that cinnamon boosts the immune system and has strong antimicrobial effects, antioxidant properties, and anti-inflammatory effects. Cinnamon is a delicious spice that can be added to hot drinks, smoothies, desserts, or your morning porridge.


Several studies point to the effectiveness of ginger as an immune system booster. As well as adding a tasty zing to meals and drinks, ginger stimulates the release of compounds that help counteract viral infections.


Image by silviarita on Pixabay: What foods increase immunity against cold and cough?


Apple Cider Vinegar

Studies suggest that apple cider vinegar may have strong immune response-boosting properties. Apple cider vinegar has antiviral properties and contains probiotics that occur during its fermentation process.


Research suggests that yogurt has strong immune system-boosting properties. The immunostimulatory effects of yogurt are due to its bacterial components.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Studies indicate that regular consumption of shiitake mushrooms improves immune system functioning. Shiitake mushrooms contain large amounts of beta-glucans, which are antiviral compounds that enhance immune function. Shiitake mushrooms have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and they protect against bacteria, yeasts, and molds.

Black Tea

Studies show that black tea is rich in pathogen-fighting compounds, such as theaflavins, that help to boost the immune system and protect against various viral infections.

Immune-Boosting Supplements

Nutrient deficiencies can compromise the immune system’s effectiveness. A deficiency in even one essential nutrient can weaken the immune system and make us more vulnerable to winter colds and flu.

As well as eating a healthy diet, many people benefit from taking supplements. A high-quality supplement is an insurance policy that makes sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.

GenBoost will be releasing a new immunity supplement range very soon – look out for details that will be released on the blog in the near future!


Featured image by team voyas on Unsplash

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