10 Foods to Boost Your Immune System 2024

Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. Here is the list.


foods that boost immune system

1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet

One diet synonymous with anti-inflammatory properties is the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by a relatively high dietary intake of minimally processed fruit, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, and monounsaturated fats, followed by low-to-moderate consumptions of fermented dairy products, fish, poultry, wine, and, lastly, low consumptions of processed and red meats [PubMedPubMed]. A balanced diet rich in these foods is associated with anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory compounds, including essential vitamins (C, D, and E) and minerals (zinc, copper, calcium, etc.), that affect a person’s nutritional status [PMC free article].

Several foods associated with the Mediterranean diet and other healthy dietary patterns contain bioactive compounds that go beyond just vitamins and minerals, including bioactive phenolic compounds; polar lipids; and peptides with potent anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and antioxidant properties. These molecules can synergistically act to prevent and protect against inflammatory manifestations and associated thrombotic and ROS-related complications (Nutrients 2020).

2. Fish and Omega-3 fatty acids

Certain types of fish are rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, two inflammatory proteins in your body.

Best sources: Salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and other cold-water fish

3. Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which support the immune system – the body’s natural defense system – and may help fight inflammation.

How much: At least 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of veggies per meal 
Best sources: Colorful foods such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, spinach, kale and broccoli

4. Nuts and Seeds

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and many other nuts and seeds reduce inflammation and supply healthy fats to the body. Raw nuts without added oil or salt are best. Seeds, such as chia and flaxseed, are proven inflammation fighters and can be easily added to many foods to add an anti-inflammatory boost.

Nuts are full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat, protein and filling fiber, too – a bonus if you’re trying to lose a few pounds.

How much: Eat 1.5 ounces of nuts daily (about a handful) 

5. Spinach

Spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients loaded with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, carotenoids, fiber, and other phytochemicals. The anti-inflammatory superfood is best when eaten raw, juiced, or lightly cooked. Natural antioxidants in spinach — and many other leafy green vegetables — have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.

Blueberries, boysenberries, cranberries, pomegranates, cherries, raspberries, and other berries provide a sweet taste without adding too much sugar to a diet. Sugar is known to promote inflammation, which can make the body more susceptible to illness and disease. Many berries contain a blue-purple pigment called anthocyanins, which reduces existing inflammation as well. Blueberries also have potent antioxidants called pterostilbene, which reduce inflammation.

6. Turmeric

Turmeric contains polyphenol curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. The golden-yellow-colored seasoning has been shown to reduce tumor reproduction and induce tumor cell death.

7. Avocados

Avocados are filled with antioxidants that reduce the body’s inflammatory response and have also been shown to reduce inflammation in young skin cells. Avocados in their whole, unprocessed state are more likely to be anti-inflammatory, and they can alleviate pain and illness caused by inflammation.

8. Beans

Beans have several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. They’re a low-cost source of fiber, protein, folic acid and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium.

Best sources: Try pinto, black, red kidney and garbanzo beans

9. Olive Oil

Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and oleocanthal, a compound that can lower inflammation and pain.

How much: Two to three tablespoons per day for cooking or in salad dressings or other dishes 

Best sources: Extra virgin olive oil is less refined and processed. It retains more nutrients than standard varieties. For optimal freshness and quality, opt for oils packaged in dark bottles with a certification or seal (COOC, North American Olive Oil Seal, DOP) and harvest date close to the purchase date.

10. Onions

Onions are packed with beneficial antioxidants. They may also reduce inflammation, heart disease risk and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Try them sautéed, grilled or raw in salads, stir-fries, whole-wheat pasta dishes or sandwiches.


Nightshade Vegetables

Nightshade vegetables – eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes – are central to Mediterranean cuisine. Some people believe they trigger arthritis flares, but there’s limited scientific evidence to support this theory. Try cutting nightshades from your diet for two weeks to see if symptoms improve.


Fiber lowers C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance in the blood that indicates inflammation. Getting fiber from foods lowers CRP levels more than taking fiber supplements. Foods that have carotenoids, the antioxidants that give carrots, peppers and some fruits their color, are quite good at lowering CRP.

Avoid Processed Food

Processed foods such as cookies, chips and other snacks can be high in unhealthy fats, which are linked with inflammation. Opt for fresh fruit instead. Canned goods – vegetables and soups – are often high in sodium, which boosts blood pressure. Look for low sodium options, or go with fresh or frozen vegetables.

Cut the Salt

There are conflicting reports about just how bad excess salt is for us. We know it causes fluid retention – one of many factors that can lead to high blood pressure. Also, corticosteroids, often used to treat RA, can cause the body to retain more sodium. So play it safe and hold the salt when possible.

Choose My Plate

The Food Pyramid many of us grew up with has been replaced with a colorful plate that emphasizes proper proportions. One important message: Fill half your plate with vegetables. Learn more at www.choosemyplate.gov.

Quercetin - Zinc Ionophores

Kale, Lettuce, hot green peppers, cranberries, blueberries, citrus, cherries, grapes, apples, onion, asparagus.

EGCG (Green Tea) - Zinc Ionophores

The strong oxidative stress-reducing and anti-inflammatory effects of green tea catechins, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), have been well established. A solution of green tea catechins was found to inactivate COVID-19 virus in the laboratory (Ref). 


Red meat, crab, beans, seeds, nuts, eggs, oats, potatoes, dark chocolate

Vitamin D

Based on several publications and studies, vitamin D seems to be the “most promising” natural supplement for COVID-19 protection. Vitamin D deficiency is known to enhance a process known as the “cytokine storm” (Marik, Jun 2020).

Sources: Eggs, Tuna, salmon, castor oil and sun exposure.


Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, tart cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber, rice, barley, rolled oats, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, flax seeds


Eggs, tuna, cod, lima beans


Celery, broccoli, green pepper, parsley, thyme, dandelion, perilla, chamomile tea, carrots, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary, navel oranges, oregano


Fish, Brazil nuts, ham, enriched foods, beef, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds, baked beans, mushrooms, oatmeal, spinach, milk and yoghurt, lentils, cashews, bananas


Chicken, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds, legumes, spinach, bananas, salmon, tuna.

Anti-viral and immune-modulatory effects

Honey with Black Cumin or Black Seed (aka Nigella Sativa)

Caution: COVID-19 causes liver and pancreatic inflammation which alcohol can dangerously exacerbate. Avoid drinking alcohol during symptoms and for at least 30 - 60 days after symptoms.


Macronutrients and micronutrients are essential to a human body, there are no ifs and buts about it. Optimizing your immune system is critical to improve your health whether there is a pandemic or not.

Cytokines are an important part of your immune response. However, when your body releases excessive or uncontrolled levels of cytokines it results in hyperinflammation called a cytokine storm. Uncontrolled inflammation has been shown to be associated with certain nutrient deficiency.

Optimizing your immune system with diet and lifestyle changes are critical to improving your health and to decrease your risk of a cytokine storm. However, therapeutics, vaccines and other physical strategies such as social distancing and mask wearing are also needed in order to protect yourself and your loved ones. It doesn't have to be an 'either or' situation. Combination strategies are more effective.


The information on this website is not medical advice and not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge, education and information from the research and experience of third party sites. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your medical professional before using products based on this content.

This article is subject to change as new evidence emerge. One Day MD has not performed independent verification of the data contained in the referenced materials, and expressly disclaims responsibility for any error in the literature.

Related: Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Supplements



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