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9 Foods That Boost Immunity

Here I thought flu season was behind me, but no, apparently flu season is still going strong

We all know the best way to get through cold and flu season is a healthy dose of prevention.  Frequently washing your hands, regularly cleaning germ hotspots, and getting enough sleep top the list of preventative tips

Also on the list: drinking plenty of water and eating a varied diet.  But exactly what are the best foods to include in that varied diet?  According to MSNBC, we should favor 9 immunity-boosting foods to supercharge our body’s resistance to the flu virus and the common cold.

  1. Yogurt.  Yogurt contains active cultures, or probiotics, that aid the digestive system in fighting off disease.  Specifically recommended is the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri, which “appears to stimulate white blood cells.”  Stonyfield Farm is the only brand in the US to contain this strain.
  2. Foods rich in beta-carotene.  Think orange: sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin and cantaloupe.  Beta-carotene supplies your body with vitamin A, which is essential for the formation of healthy skin.  Your skin acts as a physical barrier against viruses and germs.
  3. Black or green tea.  Apparently drinking five daily cups of tea transforms T cells into “Hulk cells” that produce 10 times more cold and flu virus-fighting proteins.
  4. Chicken soup.  This tried-and-true remedy thins mucus and keeps inflammatory white cells from moving to the bronchial tubes, which leads to cold symptoms.  Adding spices to your soup may have additional health benefits.
  5. Beef, or zinc-rich foods such as oysters, fortified cereals, pork, poultry, yogurt or milk.  Zinc is essential for germ-fighting white blood cells; even a slight zinc deficiency puts you at greater risk for infection.
  6. Mushrooms.  These fungi boost white cell production and make them act more aggressively against infection.
  7. Fish and shellfish.  The selenium found in fish and shellfish increase production of cytokines- proteins which help clear out flu viruses.
  8. Garlic.  Yum, my favorite.  Garlic contains allicin, which fights infection.  Studies also suggest that garlic lovers are less likely to develop some cancers.  MSNBC recommends frequently adding chopped garlic to your meals, as well as eating two raw cloves daily.
  9. Oats and barley.  These grains reportedly help to increase immunity, heal wounds more quickly and boost the efficacy of antibiotics.

Photo Credit: FotoosVanRobin under Creative Commons 


  1. I adore garlic for boosting my immunity, and great to read about your attention to zinc in foods for immune health benefits. I’ve recently learned through my holistic doctor that I am deficient in a particular type of zinc, which will help with a heavy metal detox. I also add a multi-strain probiotic supplement to my yogurt (love Stonyfield Farms) to get the benefit of multiple probiotic strains. Good to know I’m on track for keeping the bad bugs at bay!

    -Anna M

  2. Very useful information! I’ve been sick more this year than I ever have before and have been looking for ways to naturally boost my immunity.

  3. Mary Hilton says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’m a probiotic convert. I like yogurt, my son doesn’t, so I give him a chewable (called Vidazorb???) Definitely has cut down on the colds and he’s eating better. Thanks for the validation of chicken soup too. Its a miracle worker!

  4. This is great information. Passing it on and adding a lot of these to our meals for the holidays to prepare us for traveling. Thanks for the advice!


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