Boosting your immune system: these are the foods and supplements to focus on

Boosting your immune system with specific foods, vitamins, and supplements really does work, but you have to choose carefully

Immune system boosting with food
(Image credit: Getty)

Boosting your immune system is incredibly important right now in order to reduce your risk of contracting coronavirus. Viruses tend to jump more easily onto hosts with weakened immune systems, so it's a very good idea to be doing everything you can to stay healthy and well. 

If you've heard about boosting your immune system with food, you've heard something that is a fact. Diversifying your diet and increasing your intake of foods that are particularly high in important vitamins and nutrients does help strengthen your immune system. 

And what about supplements? The short version: if your kitchen cupboard is well stocked with supplements rather than fresh fruit and veg, you need to rethink. For the longer explanation of what foods you need to have in your kitchen to stay healthy, read on.

For more health advice, visit our hub page. 

1. Red peppers

Everyone knows that citrus fruits are full of vitamin C, but did you know that gram for gram, red peppers contain twice as much as any citrus fruit? This super nutritious vegetable is also full of beta-carotene, which is important to immunity, skin, and eye health. Chop up some red pepper into a salad for maximum benefits, or cook it in a stir fry.

2. Kiwis

The kiwi is truly a wonder fruit: it's full of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium – not bad for a small fruit. These nutrients are not only important for the optimal functioning of the human body, but they're also vital for proper nervous system functioning. So, eat a kiwi and feel better (and possibly sleep better as a result, too). 

3. Chicken

Chicken is high in vitamin B6, which is essential to the normal functioning of the immune system. Chicken breast is the best choice, because it's a lean meat and healthy to eat, but you'll also get similar benefits from chicken bone broth. 

4. Seafood

Seafood for your immune system, really? Yes, because seafood contains lots of zinc, which helps reduce inflammation and helps the immune system fights infections. Oysters, mussels, crab meat, and prawn are all good sources of zinc. Oysters are also high in B12 and D vitamins and Iron.  

5. Probiotics

There is by now a well established link between probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso and improved gut health. Studies also have shown that gut health is directly responsible for regulating your immune system – that is, making sure that it responds promptly to infections but doesn't go into overdrive (which is what causes allergies). 

Can't stomach probiotic foods? Try probiotic supplements instead. 

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D also has a regulatory function where it comes to the immune system, helping it adapt to a constantly changing environment. In other words, vitamin D has been linked to enhancing the body's ability to fight infection while protecting it from a range of autoimmune responses, including serious autoimmune conditions. 

Most people don't get enough vitamin D from their diet, and certainly not enough from sunlight until late spring. According to WHO advice, everything who live in the Northern hemisphere should consider vitamin D supplements during winter. 

7. Green tea

Green tea is the original, and by now somewhat neglected, health drink: it is full of antioxidants that boost your immune system, and has even been linked to weight loss. Unlike black tea that is fermented, green tea is only steamed during processing, so it retains its immune-boosting properties.