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Foods to boost immune system: plant and animal based

Foods to boost immune system

To keep your body healthy, you need to have a strong immune system. Luckily for us, we don’t have to visit the doctor for that there are things we can consume that will provide the strong immunity that we require. These listed plant and animal based foods will boost the immune system and fight off bacteria and viruses that cause infections and diseases.

The immune system is made up of organs, cells and tissues that carry out the process of fighting off pathogens. It functions by releasing antibodies that attach to antigens on the pathogens and kills them.

Plant-based foods that boost immune system

  1. Turmeric
  2. Red bell pepper
  3. Ginger
  4. Spinach
  5. Broccoli
  6. Garlic
  7. Sunflower seed
  8. Green tea
  9. Sweet potato
  10. Button mushroom
  11. Wheat germ


Turmeric is a yellowish Orange spice that is widely used for cooking. It also has medicinal values. The compound curcumin present in turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property therefore making turmeric an effective immune system booster.

Red bell pepper

Red bell pepper is one vegetable that is packed with vitamin C and beta carotene. It is a better alternative to citrus fruits for those are trying to cut down their sugar intake. The vitamin C in it boosts immunity and helps maintain a healthy skin while the beta carotene helps keep the eyes and skin healthy. The best cooking methods that retains the nutrients in red bell pepper is stir-frying and roasting.

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Ginger is one plant that is adopted around the world as a cooking spice and as an active tea ingredient. It has also been used for medicinal purposes. Reviews suggest that Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and as a result, it can boost immunity and reduce chronic pain.


Spinach is packed with many nutrients and antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and flavonoid. The vitamins C and E in spinach improves the rate at which our immune system fight infections while the flavonoid prevents common cold. It is recommended that spinach be cooked lightly so that it can retain its nutrients.


Broccoli is another vegetable that is filled with minerals and vitamins. It is a huge source of vitamins A, C and E, as well as antioxidants and fiber. Broccoli is classified as one of the healthiest vegetables and it is most potent when slightly steamed or not cooked at all.


Garlic is another common cooking spice all over the world. There are reviews that suggest that garlic can treat and prevent common cold and other illnesses. This effect is accredited to a compound called allicin that is present in garlic.

A small research carried out on people showed substantial proof that garlic can reduce and treats the common cold. However, further studies need to be done before a conclusion can be drawn.

Sunflower seed

Sunflower seeds are rich in phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin E. Being an antioxidant, vitamin E fights off free radicals, regulates and maintain the immune system. Sunflower seed is also rich in selenium, a compound that is suspected to treat viral infection like swine flu. It adds extra taste to salads.

Green tea

Green tea is a good alternative to coffee because it contains only small amounts of caffeine. Just like spinach, green tea contains flavonoids which can help prevent against common cold. Green tea is also a good source of amino acid L-theanine which may help produce a compound that fights against germs.

Sweet potato

Sweet potato is a good source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene contains vitamin A which helps to keep the skin healthy. It also provides the skin protection against UV rays.

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Button mushrooms

Mushrooms are rich in vitamin B and minerals that help boost the immune system. It is also rich in sugar-like molecules called polysaccharide that helps improve immune functions.

Wheat germ

Wheat germ is rich in minerals and vitamins. It is a great source for zinc, vitamin B and antioxidants. All of which are essential for boosting the immune system. It is also rich in protein and fibre and can sometimes be used in place of regular flour for some recipes.

Animal-based foods that boost immune system

  1. Shellfish
  2. Oily fish
  3. Poultry


Rarely given much relevance, some shellfish are highly fortified with minerals like zinc. Zinc is one nutrients that people barely remember but it is very important for our body. It helps improve the functionality of our body’s immune cells.

However, we should try not to consume more than the daily dosage our body requires which is 11 milligrams for adult men and 8 milligrams for adults women.

Examples of delicious shellfishes that are rich in zinc are; periwinkle, crabs, lobster, shrimps, oyster, prawn etc.

Oily fish

Oily fish is like salmon, tuna etc are high sources of omega-3  fatty acids. Studies suggest that regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids may lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.


Chicken and turkey are both rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of healthy red blood cells. It also plays an active role in the chemical processes that take place in the body. Chicken soup may be able to reduce the symptoms of cold by lowering inflammation. Chicken bone also contains gelatin and other nutrients that help improve the healing of gut and boost immunity.

Order foods that boost the immune system

  1. Yoghurt
  2. Dark chocolates


Yoghurt as well as other fermented products contain a substance called probiotic. This substance may be helpful in easing serious cold. When purchasing yogurts, check the label for products that have “live and active culture” written on them. Also check for vitamin D as an added nutrients. Vitamin D deficiency may lead to frequent occurrence of cold and flu.

Dark chocolate

A compound called theobromine which is in dark chocolate can help protect the body cells from free radicals thereby boosting immunity.

When the body breaks down food, it produces some molecules, these molecules are termed free radicals. Free radicals can also be produced when the body come in contact with pollutants.

In spite of its benefits, it is recommended that dark chocolate be consumed in moderate quantity because it contains calories and saturated fat.

Other ways to boost the immune system

Aside eating healthy foods, there are other practices that can help boost the immune system. These are;

  1. Regular workout or exercise
  2. Avoid smoking or using tobacco products
  3. Desist from drinking excess alcohol
  4. Maintain a healthy weight
  5. Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  6. Avoid stressful situations
  7. Get adequate sleep
  8. Practice regular oral hygiene

As can be seen, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is as simple as eating delicious, nutritious and healthy foods. These foods are not necessarily expensive and they are readily available in the market. We should try as much as possible to include in our diet foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals that will help boost our immune system.

Foods that boost the immune system are available in both plants and animals therefore whether you are a vegetarian or not, you would definitely have enough supply of healthy nutrients for your body. Endeavour to eat the foods that contain the nutrients your body is lacking in moderate quantity.

If you have a persistent illness like cold or flu please contact your doctor for proper treatment and advice.


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