Today, we’ll be talking about foods that you can eat to help strengthen your immune system. We previously talked about ways to boost your immune system, including getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in exercise. This time, we’ll be focusing exclusively on foods! Incorporating these foods into your diet is a great way to protect your body and prevent colds, the flu, and other infections. If you are interested in learning more, we encourage you to stick around! Let’s get started.

What is the immune system?

First, let’s take a closer look at what the immune system actually is. The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight off infections and other diseases. Essentially, it protects the body from outside invaders, such as germs and bacteria. This large network contains white blood cells, proteins known as antibodies, and chemicals that work together with organs to keep you healthy. When the immune system is working properly, it can tell which cells are yours, and which substances are foreign to the body. When it is not working properly, it may not be able to attack an invader, or it may mount an attack when there is no invader at all. In order to stay healthy, your immune system needs nourishment and rest, just like the rest of your body. Certain lifestyle changes can help strengthen the immune system and help you avoid illness, such as washing your hands often, maintaining a healthy body weight, and eating a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables. 

What foods can help strengthen your immune system?

It is important to note that no food or supplement is guaranteed to cure or prevent disease. However, eating certain foods can help lower your risk of contracting illnesses. Let’s take a look at some of them!

Citrus Fruits

When thinking about the immune system, the first thing that comes to mind is probably vitamin C. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a nutrient that the body needs in order to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. It also has been found to help build up the immune system. Research has suggested that vitamin C may increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Since the body does not produce or store vitamin C, you must obtain it through your diet for continued health. Vitamin C can be found in almost all citrus fruits, including grapefruit, oranges, clementines, tangerines, lemons, and limes. Among these citrus fruits, oranges have the highest amount of vitamin C. In fact, a medium-sized whole orange contains around 70 milligrams of vitamin C. For reference, the recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men. You can enjoy the benefits that oranges, and other citrus fruits, have to offer by eating the fruits, drinking 100% fruit juice, or adding the juice or zest to baked goods and entrees.


Garlic is a species of bulbous flowering plant, related to the onion. It is found in a large variety of cuisines throughout the world, and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. In fact, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions! Scientists have found that most of garlic’s medicinal benefits are due to its sulfur compounds, such as allicin. These compounds form when a garlic clove is crushed, chopped, or chewed. They enter your body through the digestive tract and then travel throughout the body to provide health benefits. One study showed that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63%, compared to a placebo. Garlic can be incorporated into many dishes, or you may choose to take a garlic supplement. When cooking with garlic, it is best to use more than one clove per meal to reap the benefits. 


This leafy green vegetable is extremely rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, and K1, as well as calcium, folic acid, and iron. Spinach is packed with antioxidants and beta carotene, a pigment found in plants that gives them their color. The body converts this pigment into vitamin A. Additionally, beta carotene may help increase the infection-fighting ability of the immune system. Spinach is healthiest when it is cooked as little as possible, so that it can retain its nutritional value. For this reason, many people choose to use spinach as the base for a salad. It also makes a great addition to pasta dishes, soups and stews, or as a side with your entree. 


We often associate having a cold with eating chicken soup– And for good reason! It’s not just a myth, urban legend, or placebo effect. Poultry, such as chicken or turkey, is high in vitamin B-6, which plays an important role in keeping the nervous system and immune system healthy. It is also vital to the formation of new red blood cells. Additionally, the protein found in chicken and turkey provides the body with amino acids, which are used by the body to build antibodies to fight infections. Poultry is pretty versatile, allowing you to make a wide variety of dishes. Besides chicken soup, you may consider adding chicken or turkey to a salad. All in all, poultry is a tasty and versatile way to strengthen your immune system.


This one may seem surprising, but some types of shellfish are rich in zinc, which is a nutrient that helps the immune system and metabolism function. Shellfish that is high in zinc includes crab, lobster, oysters, and mussels. Keep in mind, though, that your body does not need a large amount of zinc. The daily recommended amount of zinc for adult men is 11 milligrams, and 8 milligrams for women. Too much zinc can actually have the opposite effect, inhibiting immune system function. Some ideas for cooking with shellfish include soups or chowders, salads, or pastas. 

These are just a few of the delicious foods that can help you strengthen your immune system! If you are looking for more foods to add to your diet, check out Medical News Today’s article. Keep in mind that eating just one of these foods won’t be enough to help your body fight off the flu or other infection. Maintaining a healthy diet, along with other lifestyle changes, such as exercise and adequate sleep, should be performed together for maximum effect. It is also important to keep serving sizes and recommended daily intakes in mind– You don’t want to get too much of a single vitamin or nutrient and too little of others.

We hope you found this article informative, and we encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. It would be a pleasure to assist you. Here at Family Chiropractic & Massage, we offer chiropractic care as well as massage services and heat and cold therapy. We have doctors who have studied various chiropractic techniques to render care to patients with different types of conditions. As people vary, so do the techniques chosen to help each patient get well. We use evidence-based treatment methods to help patients get better faster. If you are suffering from any type of back pain, contact us today to set up an appointment so we can assess your needs and create an effective treatment plan. One of our experienced doctors would love to help get you on the right track to living a healthy, pain-free life! Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll check back for more articles about chiropractic care and all it has to offer!