25 Natural Foods to Boost Your Immune System

As the number of coronavirus cases is increasing rapidly day by day, it has become necessary to take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of infection. One of the most important ways, you can protect your body from infection is by boosting your immune system. Immune system is made up of different organs, cells and proteins that work together to protect your body from viruses, bacteria and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease. Considering the current situation of COVID-19, there is a particular public interest to boost immunity.

Healthy lifestyle plays an important role to strengthen your immune system. If you are looking for ways to prevent from illness like Viral, Flu & Bacterial infection, you should focus on your daily intake of food. Sometimes, the natural way is the best way to get perfect results. Many people are not aware of how significantly our diet can help to boost our immunity. Studies have shown that some fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamins, Minerals and Anti-oxidants which can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body. This is why eating the right food is essential for your health.

Everyone should plan their meals to include these 25 natural foods to boost their immune system and fight against infection and viruses.
Start with the following immune boosting foods:

1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are sweet and sour due to the combination of sugar and citric acid in them. Citrus fruit is associated with the production of white blood cells which are the key factor to fight infections. These are the best source of vitamin C, an anti-oxidant and immune-supportive nutrient. Our body does not produce or store vitamin C, so we need a small daily intake to be safe.
Here are some popular varieties of citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, kiwi, guava, strawberries and tangerine
How to have it:
You can make classic fruit chaat with a mix of fruits, nuts, lemon and rock salt.
You can also take homemade fresh juice by adding mint leaves, basil leaves or a pinch of ginger.

2. Papaya

It is an incredibly healthy fruit for preventing such illnesses as ear infection, cold and flu. It’s loaded with various nutrients which are needed for the proper function of a healthy immune system. These fruits are also famous because of their vibrant color and sweet taste. Papaya contains protein-digesting enzymes including papain and chymopapain which can help lower inflammation and fight disease.
How to have it:
You can simply cut a papaya in half, remove the seeds with a teaspoon and enjoy.
It can be added to salads, smoothies and other dishes.

3. Watermelon

Watermelon is an immune boosting fruit. It contains only 46 calories per bowl but it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C and many other nutrients. The watermelon is a cheery red color due to lycopene, an antioxidant. It’s a powerful antioxidant to have anti-inflammatory properties.
How to have it:
Watermelon slices are the most common way to enjoy this fruit.
Make a fruit salad with watermelon and sprinkle lemon juice, rock salt and black pepper powder.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are sweet, low in calories and incredibly good for your health. Blueberries are a power house of antioxidants especially anthocyanin which gives blueberries both their blue color and many health benefits. In addition, blueberries are rich sources of vitamin C, copper, iron which all are helpful to boost your immune system. It is said that blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity among all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.
How to have it:
Adding blueberries to your smoothie or your favorite oatmeal is a convenient way to eat.

5. Gooseberry

Gooseberry is also known as Amla. Gooseberry is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta carotene. It has eight times more vitamin C than orange. It has many health benefits like boosting your immunity, metabolism and prevents from several bacterial infections and diseases.
How to have it:-
You can take it in the form of fresh juice, powdered form or can be added in pickles, jams, dips or spread.
Drinking two teaspoons of amla juice with one teaspoon of honey can be a great for instant relief from cold or cough.
Amla is readily available as Chyawanprash, Amla juice, Amla candy and Amla murabba.

6. Apple


Apple is one of the most popular fruits in the world. There is a saying,”An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apple is enriched with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy fibers. Apple contains quercetin and pectin- type of flavonoids that will help to boost your immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Peeling the skin removes much of the fiber and the majority of flavonoids. So, it’s better to eat without peeling them.
How to have it:
Cut the apple, sprinkle the chaat masala and ready to eat.
Sliced apples can be added in any salad as they have a great sweet taste and pair well with cheeses.

7. Garlic


It is one of the most widely used spice that adding extra flavors to the food. It is also known as immunity boosting superstar. It has a significant antibiotic property to treat bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections for the thousand years. It contains a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin which is helpful to boost your immune system.
How to have it:
Taking 2-3 cloves of raw or cooked garlic a day will help to cure the cold and also build your immunity. Simply take your garlic cloves and smash them a little and use it in your authentic Indian style recipes.

8. Ginger


Ginger is one of the most widely used natural food consumed as a spice and medicine for treating Sore throat, Joint Pain, Flu, Cold and many more illnesses. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that has antioxidant properties which is helpful to boost your immunity.
How to have it:
Ginger can be used fresh,dried or as a powdered form.
Add some grated ginger in boiling water for at least 10 minutes, add some lemon juice and honey in it and enjoy your detox tea.

9. Broccoli


It is a dark green leafy vegetable. It is a super charge of vitamins and minerals which includes vitamin A, C and E along with other anti oxidant and fiber. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a chemical compound which is helpful to prevent from diseases associated with inflammation. It is one of the healthiest vegetable you can put on your table.
How to have it:
Eat broccoli raw to get the most nutrients. If you like to cook broccoli, steam it for about 5 minutes.
Try adding broccoli into any other salad recipe you like.

10. Red Bell pepper


Red bell pepper adds flavor, color, and crunch to many dishes with low calories. They are one of the most nutrient-rich foods, loaded with vitamins and minerals. Red Bell Pepper contains twice as much vitamin C as compare to citrus food. These are also rich sources of beta carotene which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision.
How to have it:
Add them to soups, sandwiches, wraps, salad and Italian dishes.

11. Spinach


It is a leafy green vegetable. These are rich sources of vitamin C, beta carotene and many other antioxidant which increases infection fighting ability of your immune system. Spinach is one of the best veggie that you must include in your daily diet and enjoy a variety of nutritional benefits.
How to have it:
Spinach smoothie, spinach soup, spinach dal are easiest and healthiest option you can try.

12. Sweet Potato


Sweet potatoes are sweet, starchy root vegetables. They come in variety of color including- white, purple or yellow. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers. One sweet potato gives you 400% of vitamin A which is essential for our general immune system as well as good vision. The purple-fleshed sweet potato contains anthocyanins which makes the vegetables an essential dietary source for the prevention of inflammation in the body.
How to have it:
They can be enjoyed with or without skin and can be baked, boiled, roasted, fried or steamed.

13. Carrot


Carrots are loaded with a lot of minerals, fibers, vitamins C and vitamin K. Carrot contains high level of beta-carotene which acts as an antioxidant that protects the body from harmful bacteria, inflammation and viruses. This vegetable is said to be perfect as it is very cheap and easily available in our market.
How to have it:
Carrot can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, or steamed.
Add carrot juice to your daily diet to strengthen your immune system.

14. Mushrooms


Mushrooms are fat-free, low-sodium, low-calorie, and cholesterol-free. It can add great flavor and texture to any side dish. Fresh mushrooms are a healthy addition to your plate. They’re packed with fibers, vitamins, and minerals. They also contain powerful antioxidant called selenium,that is very effective in protecting your body from any free radicals and helps to strengthen the immune system.
How to have it:
Add them to soups, sandwiches, wraps, casseroles, and Italian dishes.

15. Tomato


A fruit that’s often treated as a vegetable.Tomatoes are loaded with a substance called lycopene. It gives them their bright red color and many other health benefits. Tomato is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. These two components help the body to get rid of harmful free radicals in our blood.
How to have it:
Fresh tomato juice, flavored with some rock salt, is a refreshing way to begin the day when it comes to boost your immunity.
There are plenty of ways to add tomatoes to your diet as wrap, sandwich, Indian curries, salad, pasta, soap, the salad being the most common option.

16. Almonds


Almonds are highly nutritious and rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are key factor to fighting off cold, cough and sickness that ultimately promotes a healthy life. Almonds are the world best sources of vitamin E which works as an antioxidant and prevents inflammation.
How to have it:
Eating raw almond is good but soaked almond gives you more health benefit as it removes the harmful chemicals naturally present in the nuts.

17. Eggs


Eggs are a low-calorie food that keeps you fuller for longer. They are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. They are also rich sources of selenium, vitamin B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Eating two eggs a day can greatly help fight off infections and keep the body healthy.
How to have it:
Eggs can be added to many dishes and prepared in numerous ways, including boiling, poaching, frying, scrambling but boiled eggs have shown to be the healthiest methods of preparing eggs.
Omelets can also be a nutritious way to eat eggs by adding more veggies in that fluffy mixture.

18. Yogurt


A bowl of fresh, creamy and homemade yogurt is another great addition into your diet that can stimulate your immune system. Yogurt is full of calcium, vitamin D, protein and healthy gut bacteria. The live bacteria (probiotics) present in yogurt works on building your immunity and lower your chances of various illnesses and infection.
Study shows that eating a 7-ounce dose of yogurt (about 200 grams) is just as effective in boosting immunity as having medicines instead.
How to have it:
Yogurt Bowls make a great breakfast or snack by adding pieces of fresh fruits,nuts, seeds and additional toppings as you like.

19. Green Tea


Green tea is the most recommended beverage by nutrition experts which is absolutely delicious to taste. It is very helpful for losing weight and one of the best sources for fighting off a cold. Green tea contains a catechin called epigallocatechingallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant which will help to enhance your immune system. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which increases the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
How to have it:
Have a cup of green tea every day by adding honey.

20. Ashwagandha


Ashwagandha is a powerful herb that has been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine. The herb is also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry. Ashwagandha has many beneficial compounds such as flavonoids and antioxidants which can help to boost your immune system. Moreover, it also reduces the level of a stress hormone known as cortisol that relieves stress effectively.
How to have it:
Ashwagandha can be taken in the form of powder or tablet or syrup.
Ashwagandha is commonly available as a churna that can be mixed with warm water and honey.

21. Giloy

Giloy is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used in Indian medicine for ages. It is well known for purifying the blood and boosts your immunity. Giloy contains anti-oxidant properties which fight free-radicals, keep your cells healthy and get rid from diseases. Giloy can also help people who have chronic fever as it is anti-pyretic in nature.
How to have it:
Take 2-3 teaspoons of Giloy syrup, add some water and drink it on an empty stomach in the morning once a day to fight against viruses.
You can take Giloy in the form of Giloy syrup or Giloy capsule.

22. Turmeric


It is a key ingredient in Indian curries and has been used for centuries as a traditional herbal remedies for sore throat, cough, and cold. It contains a powerful chemical compound called curcumin which gives turmeric its vibrant orange-yellow color. Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin also has beneficial effects for patients of arthritis, allergies, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
How to have it:
The best way to have it in hot milk with crushed almonds.
Add 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in lukewarm water. Have it every day in the morning.

23. Sunflower Seeds


Sunflower seeds are an extremely healthy snack. They are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6. They are rich sources of vitamin E that helps your body fight off infection.
How to have it:
Add them to a salad, trail mix, or sprinkle over roasted veggies.

24. Raw honey


Raw honey is a natural immunity booster. It is the best remedy to cure a sore throat since ancient times. Raw honey can be used as a substitute of sugar. Raw honey has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that protect the body against bacteria and also boost your immunity.
How to have it:
Mix one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of lemon juice in warm water, and drink it regularly in the early morning for better immunity as well as weight loss. Honey can also be consumed with herbal tea and apple cider vinegar.

25. Dark Chocolates


Dark chocolates are semi-sweet with a slightly bitter flavor because of its high cocoa and less sugar composition. It is made from the seeds of cocoa trees.Dark chocolate is extremely helpful in fighting of a cold. The cocoa in dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavonoids that can reduce inflammation and help regulate your immune response. Chocolate with a 60 percent or higher cocoa content is packed with full of nutrients and antioxidants.
You can take approximately 1 to 2 ounces or 30-60g as per expert guidelines.

Now you have understood the best immunity boosting food, let’s discuss a recipe for kadha that will also help you with the process here. Try having it once a day on an empty stomach.
Ingredients:
5-6 fresh basil leaves, ½ tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp ajwain, 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp black pepper powder, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp rock salt, 1 tsp lemon juice
Add all ingredients in 300-400 ml water and boil it for 15 minutes on medium heat. Pour it in a cup, squeeze a lemon juice and enjoy.

Along with healthy and varied diet, you should also follow these measures:

  • Exercises
  • Proper Sleep
  • Don’t do stress
  • Avoid drinking
  • Try to avoid infection by washing your hand frequently and disinfect areas.

Hopefully, with these tips, you will be able to boost your immune system. Please feel free to share your experience. Have you tried any one of above? Please share it in the comment section.

Thank you so much for your kind support.

Nirali.