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Healthy Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Published in For the Health of It, Healthy Eating Tips Author: Sierra Quarnstrom, MS, RD, St. Cloud Hospital Dietetic Internship Program Director

Cold and flu season can be hard on a person’s immune system. If you’re trying to avoid illness and give yourself a little health boost, there are some natural foods you can incorporate into your diet to help aid in preventing illness.

Certain foods are known for supporting the immune system. These foods contain specific vitamins, minerals, essential nutrients, and antioxidants to strengthen your natural illness-fighting ability.

A balanced varied diet, including at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, is the primary way to give yourself extra protection. Some immune-boosting foods include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Berries
  • Fatty fish
  • Lean meats
  • Eggs
  • Darky leafy green vegetables
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Citrus fruits

Although research isn’t clear on how much of an immune boost you get from eating healthy foods, we know that people who have healthier lifestyles, including a healthy diet, recover from seasonal illness more quickly.

If you find it challenging to get all your key fruits and vegetables into your daily routine, consider easy recipes that use a variety of fruit and vegetable ingredients.

  • Salads
  • Smoothies
  • Parfaits

So many cold and flu-related products are marketed to the public promising various health benefits. It’s important to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

There are no quick-fix foods or supplements. While you may be tempted to load up on vitamin C the second you feel a cold coming on, it won’t necessarily prevent colds completely and will not cure them abruptly.

Vitamin supplements are primarily only beneficial when there is a nutrient deficiency. Getting vitamins and nutrition from whole foods is always better when possible. Too much of a supplement can also be dangerous. Always consult with your primary care physician when considering these products.

A balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables, benefits your immune system over time. Think of it as a lifestyle commitment rather than a seasonal practice.