Foods That Strengthen Your Immune System

Imagine your favorite foods that are delicious can also help keep you free from illnesses. Well, it’s true, according to several sources. Along with a proper hygiene regime (such as washing your hands before digging into dinner), there are particular foods that can guard against getting the sniffles…or worse.

These aren’t fancy dishes – most of these are things you probably already have in your fridge or pantry. Let’s digest seven of these superfoods that can help your body resist illnesses like the flu…

Yogurt explains that yogurt is effective because of the healthy bacteria (more commonly referred to as probiotics) that help keep your gut free of “disease-causing germs.”

The source points out that probiotics are also available as supplements, but also notes that a study out of the University of Vienna found that a daily 7-ounce serving of yogurt was just as effective as the supplement (pill) version. Also, it’s probably more delicious too.

Citrus Fruits

Vitamin C delivered by grapefruit, oranges, tangerines and clementines is a big ally against colds, notes Healthline. While you can load up on these types of fruits if you’re already suffering symptoms of a cold, you can use them to avoid getting sick in the first place, explains the source.

“Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health,” adds the source. It’s believed that Vitamin C increases your white blood cell count, which is a key in fighting off infections.


Okay, so this maybe isn’t everyone’s favorite food, but it sure packs a healthy punch. (an Australian website) says that broccoli is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, and that all of the vegetables in this group (including Brussels sprouts and cabbage) contain a compound called sulforaphane apparently suppresses the growth of breast cancer cells.

Not only have studies shown that broccoli fights cancer, but it “also builds up your immune defenses in the most vital area of your body – your gut,” adds the source (which also explains gut flora is our “first line of immune defense”). These types of vegetables can also aid in proper liver function, it notes.

Oats and Barley

Men’s Health explain that oats and barley contain something called beta-glucan, which it says is “a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea (a popular herb to ward off illnesses).”

The source adds that animals that eat this compound, they show less prevalence of flu and herpes – while in humans, oats and barley can help boost general immunity, speed up healing of wounds, and raise the effectiveness of antibiotics. Good news to beer lovers: you may be able to find this beta-glucan in your brew as well.

Chicken Soup

We already know that chicken soup is good for the soul; turns out it’s also good for the immune system as well. “Of all the folk remedies for fighting a head cold, a hearty bowl of chicken soup has to be the hands-down winner,” explains

The source notes there have even been lab studies to try and determine what is it about chicken soup that helps us recover from being sick. One study from 2000 “concluded it was the anti-inflammatory properties of many of chicken soup ingredients that helped ease the symptoms of a cold by reducing congestion,” it adds. Chicken protein also contains the amino acid cysteine, which can possibly help clear mucus, notes the source.

Shellfish says gobbling up some crab, clams, lobster and mussels is more than satisfying – it can help you stay illness-free. That’s because these foods are packed with zinc, which “doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals,” but helps immune cells function better, it adds.

It’s important not to overdo the recommended daily dose of zinc – which is 11-milligrams a day for men, and 8-milligrams a day for women. “Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function,” warns the source.


These are a healthy snack to turn to rather than sugar-filled processed foods, and can benefit you in many ways. In fact, “Just one ounce has more than 20-percent of your vitamin E and manganese needs, for healthy immune function,” explains, which adds almonds are also a great way to great plant proteins and “heart-healthy fats.”

The source says instead of eating almonds on their own (they’re not what everyone would consider a delicious snack), you can sprinkle it on oatmeal or cereal, or toss it into a trail mix that has other healthy items with flavor (like raisins).

Jeff Hayward

Jeff Hayward

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.