6 Types of Superfoods for Boosting Your Immune System

Written by Linda Said, MS, RD, LDN
2021-08-04

How to support yourself and your family during COVID-19

It's true - what you eat and drink can help strengthen your immune system. This is helpful anytime - during COVID-19 or as a regular weekday warrior.

However, it is important to note that there is no one specific food or supplement that is a miracle “immune booster” as a weapon against illness or COVID-19. Your immune system is a complex system that involves different kinds of cells, each with a specialized function. 

Your best line of immune defense is to choose whole and nutritious foods that can work towards naturally keeping your immune system in check. 

Below is a list of foods to stock up on and that can keep during distancing from COVID-19, while focusing on nutrition-packed foods: 

Ginger-Garlic-Turmeric

Not only are they flavoring agents, but research has also suggested that garlic, turmeric, and ginger contain potent antioxidants and anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be added to almost anything: marinades, soups, roasted vegetables, stews, casseroles, stir fry, salad dressings, etc. 

Whole Grains

Whole grains deliver a variety of nutrients like B vitamins, fiber, zinc and iron, which have vital roles in the body from helping prevent infections to enhancing immunity and promoting good digestion. Try brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain English muffins, oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn. 

Frozen Fruit & Vegetables

Yes, frozen! Frozen vegetables are picked when their freshness and nutrient value are optimal and their nutritional value gets preserved. They are rich in antioxidants (primarily beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E) which can help reduce inflammation in your body. Look for fruits and vegetables that are purple, blue, red, orange and yellow. 

Canned Tomatoes

This is a great addition to stews, soups and sauces - pureed, diced, or whole. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce inflammation and improve immune function.

Nuts & Seeds

Choose raw, unsalted nuts and seeds. They are a great source of healthy fat, protein and fats. Nut butters are always a good option to keep around the house and make a satisfying snack or spread.

Legumes

No, these aren’t just for vegetarians and vegans. Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, cannellini beans, etc. contain a wide variety of nutrients and are a healthy and economical food. Try adding them to vegetable soup,tacos, or lasagna for more fiber to help keep  gut microbiota healthy. A healthy gut plays a role in immune development and function.

Related article:

Foods to Avoid During COVID-19

 

So before grabbing a supplement off the shelf that has an “immune booster” claim written all over it, take a pause. First, check with your doctor to see if you are deficient or he or she has concerns during COVID-19. Second, the foods recommended above are great for any day - and are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc. Those nutrients have been recommended to help with immune function, so a supplement may not be necessary. 

At the end of the day, a good balance of sleep, exercise, managing stress, and proper nutrition are all things to think about when it comes to our immune system - now during COVID-19 and any time.

For more information, read more about the types and treatments for IBS.