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Best Drinks and Foods to Boost Your Immune System

A poor diet can lead to a weakened immune system. Try these healthy alternatives.

When leading a busy life, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits. Poor nutrition can make you more susceptible to getting sick, so maintaining a healthy diet is important.

A large part of preventing sicknesses such as cold or flu has to do with your daily habits: washing your hands, not touching your nose or eyes, and staying away from people who are sick.1 However, once you have already been exposed to germs, your immune system becomes the most important defense against illness. Your immunity is a complex system that fights against disease-causing microorganisms.2 Although there are no proven direct links between lifestyle and an improved immune system, researchers believe that healthy-living strategies, such as a nutrient-rich diet, likely helps immune function and comes with other proven health benefits.2 If you’re trying to avoid getting sick, your diet is one area that might make a difference this season.

Maintaining a healthy diet might seem challenging if you’re constantly on the go. The good news is that there are great food and drink options that can help boost your immunity without costing you much time. Try out these healthy, nutrient-packed choices: 

Vitamin C

Foods and drinks rich in vitamin C are great choices for staying healthy during cold and flu season.3 Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is vital to your body’s healing process.4 These quick and easy snack options contain vitamin C:4

  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges or orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice

Yogurt

Yogurt is loaded with probiotics, or “healthy bacteria” that can keep the stomach and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.5 Probiotics may influence your body’s immune response,6 which is important when preventing sickness.

A bowl of yoghurt with strawberries, blueberries and nuts with a sprig of mint sits on a surface, there is a bowl of blueberries in the background

Yogurt is loaded with probiotics, or “healthy bacteria” that can keep the stomach and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folic acid.3 Folic acid is vital for the production and maintenance of your body’s cells.7 Raw broccoli is a healthy snack you can bring with you easily.

Whole grains

Whole grains like oats, bran, and wheat are packed with fiber.8 Studies show promising evidence of the immune-enhancing effects of fiber.9 Oat bars are a great on-the-go option for eating whole grains.

Whole grains like oats, bran, and wheat are packed with fiber. Studies show promising evidence of the immune-enhancing effects of fiber.

A bowl of kale salad with mixed grains and nuts sits on a table with a blue napkin, there is a lemon off to the right hand side

Tea

Tea contains antioxidants, flavonoids, and anti-inflammatory properties.10 Drink several cups daily and bob the tea bags up and down to extract the most nutrients. Too much caffeine can be dehydrating1 so keep in mind that decaffeinated tea contains the same benefits.

Zinc

Low-calorie beef jerky contains high amounts of zinc, which supports a healthy immune system.11 A bag of mixed nuts is also a zinc-loaded alternative.

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