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Add These Immune-Boosting Foods to Your Diet


September 18, 2019 | Published by

With cold and flu season fast approaching, it’s important to do what you can to help stay well. What you eat on a daily basis can have a positive or negative impact on your immune defenses. In this article we’ve highlighted 11 foods to include in your diet to help boost your immune system.


Anthocyanin, a flavonoid contained within blueberries, is known for having antioxidant properties that can help boost one’s immune system.1

According to a 2016 study, flavonoids play a necessary role in protecting the respiratory tract. Researchers found that individuals that consumed foods high in flavonoids were less likely to suffer from common cold or upper respiratory infections than those who did not.1

Dark chocolate

While it can be high in calories and saturated fat, dark chocolate contains an important antioxidant called theobromine. Theobromine helps boost the immune system by providing protection to the body’s cells from free radicals.1

When your body breaks down foods or encounters pollutants, free radicals can be produced. Free radicals are molecules that can not only harm your body’s cells, they may also lead to disease.1


Turmeric, a yellow spice often found in foods such as curry, contains curcumin (diferuloylmethane). Decades of research shows curcumin to be a potent immunomodulatory agent that can adjust the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, neutrophils, and dendritic cells.2

In addition to these health benefits, a 2017 review shows that turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This can positively affect conditions such as arthritis, heartburn, joint pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.3


Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are an ample source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis as well as autoimmune diseases.1, 4


If you’re looking to regularly support your immune system, it’s difficult to find a food as beneficial as broccoli. Broccoli is filled with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as other antioxidants and fiber. And while raw broccoli is the best way to utilize its numerous health benefits, if it is going to be cooked, its best to do so as little as possible.5

Sweet potatoes

The unique skin color which sweet potatoes are known for is due to its abundance in vitamin A from the antioxidant beta carotene. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, beta carotene is responsible for producing healthy skin and may even provide protection from ultraviolet rays.1

Red bell peppers

While citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C. Additionally, red bell peppers are a great source of beta carotene.6


Garlic was recognized by early civilizations for its value in fighting infections5, and many still use it today as a home remedy for the preventions of colds as well as other illnesses. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties can be attributed to its sulfur-containing compounds like allicin.5

Scientists believe it is possible that the allicin contained within garlic may block enzymes related to infections.6 There is even a review which posits that taking supplements containing allicin reduced the risk of the common cold.1


Ginger holds high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is commonly used to treat nausea. A recent review involving 60 studies found that ginger may have a helpful effect on conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It also contains beta-carotene and capsaicin, which are both immune system-supporting compounds.6

Green tea

People suffering from HPA axis dysfunction have been using green tea as an alternative to the more caffeinated coffee for years. In addition to being a tasty, relaxing treat, drinking green tea may also strengthen your immune system.1

Like blueberries, green tea also contains flavonoids, which may help reduce the risk of the common cold. Green tea is also an excellent source of the amino acid L-theanine, which may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.5


In addition to being a solid source of potassium, fennel contains compounds which may help soothe a sore throat and loosen chest mucus when you are suffering from a cold. Fennel is also an excellent source of potassium, which is crucial for preventing dehydration when the fluid balance in your body is not regulated properly.6


  1. Burgess, L The best foods for boosting your immune system. Medical News Today.
  2. Jagetia GC et al “Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin. Journal of Clinical Immunology.
  3. Does Turmeric Reduce Inflammation? Livewell.
  5. Marengo, K 15 Foods That Boost the Immune System. Healthline.
  6. Sifferlin, A 11 Best Foods for Your Immune System. Time.

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  • Kristin says:

    Everyone has different tolerances, but is there a general “safe” quantity of dark chocolate one could consume daily without adversely impacting recovery from adrenal fatigue? Thank you! 🙂

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Kristin,

      Thanks for writing. We do not have a recommended maximum amount, though we do recommend following the general guidelines of no more than 1 oz per day.

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