Posted April 24, 2013 by Gareth Evans in Health

The top 6 foods for boosting your immune system, naturally


If you’re exercising moderately, but on a regular basis, the good news is that you’re already boosting your immune system, naturally.

If, however, you are undertaking more strenuous exercise, research indicates that it can have a negative impact on your immune system, especially if your diet is not giving you all of the nutrients that your body requires.

When you’re feeling a little low on energy, and susceptible to illness, it can be tempting to rush to your local pharmacy to buy a tub of multi-vitamins, as a means of pre-empting any potential illness. It is far more effective, however, to consider making some of the following foods a bigger part of your diet.

Check out our list of the top 6 foods for boosting your immune system, naturally.

1. Chicken Noodle Soup

It may be an old wives’ tale, but nothing beats a bit of chicken noodle soup for boosting your immune system.

Not only does the high fluid content of chicken noodle soup help to ensure that you stay hydrated, a prerequisite for overcoming any illness, but research also indicates that chicken noodle soup is a mucus stimulant, which serves to thin mucus, as well as clearing nasal congestion.

The soup is, furthermore, a natural anti-inflammatory, helping to ease some of the other symptoms of colds, such as headaches and fever.

2. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a potent and powerful weapon in the war against illness. Consuming mushrooms actively promotes the creation of cytokines in the human body, the cells which are utilised to overcome infections, while they also contain polysaccharides, a compound that supports the immune system.

While all mushrooms contain polysaccharides and promote the creation of cytokines, shitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms are the most effective species of mushroom for strengthening your immune system.

3. Vitamin C

Eating more Vitamin C is perhaps one of the most effective, and straightforward, means of strengthening your immune system. Studies show that Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, can reduce the symptoms of a cold by up to 23%, with an intake of just 1,000 – 8,000 milligrams.

When you think about improving your Vitamin C intake, common social conditioning tells you to reach for an orange. While an average orange contains around 70 mg of ascorbic acid, however, there are great numbers of other more potent sources from which Vitamin C can be derived.

These other sources include: Guava (376 mg of Vitamin C for 1 cup), red bell peppers (142 mg of Vitamin C for 1/2 a cup), and kiwi fruits (128 mg of Vitamin C per serving of 2 kiwi fruits).

4. Yoghurt

You may have seen the term pro-biotic written on the side of a yoghurt pot, but have you ever stopped to look up what it actually means?

Pro-biotics are healthy bacteria that rid the gut and intestinal tract of germs. Research indicates that pro-biotics, found in many types of yoghurt, are one of the most effective means of boosting your immune system, and fighting infection.

A study, undertaken by the University of Vienna, indicates that seven ounces of yoghurt, eaten daily, is just as effective in boosting immunity as taking supplements.

5. Fish

Shellfish, such as oysters, lobster, crabs, and clams, all contain an element called selenium, which invokes the production of cytokines in white blood cells. These cytokines are a protein which helps to eliminate flu viruses in the human body.

Other fishes, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and herring, are also a great source of Omega-3 fats, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body, as well as protecting the lungs from respiratory-related infections.

Fish also contains Zinc, which our bodies do not naturally produce, but we need in order to help construct white blood cells; these white blood cells are how our body defends itself against infectious diseases.

6. Ginger

Adding ginger to your meals, or slicing it up and putting it in tea, is a final, truly excellent, means of boosting your immune system.

Ginger contains sesquiterpenes, which are chemicals that specifically target the most common form of cold virus, the rhinovirus. In addition to soothing the throat, ginger also acts as a natural form of pain relief, as well as being effective at reducing fevers.

So there you have it, stock up on these goodies if you feel you need to give your immune system a boost.

Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans
A former professional rugby player in his youth, Gareth is now a bit of an all-round amateur when it comes to sport. He continues to play rugby for his local club, has studied Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Argentina, played Basketball in Peru, trekked in the Andes and the Himalayas, is a reluctant adventure racer, and is now studying KFM (Keysi Fighting Method). He has a passion for a whole host of sports, as well as travel, but feels truly at home on the rugby pitch or in the mountains.