Boost Your Immunity!

Updated: Sep 2

Immune Boosting Nutrients

Food and nutrients are one of the best ways we can boost our immunity and keep our bodies healthy! But what are the specific foods and nutrients that we recommend as dietitians? In this article I will cover my favorite immune-boosting foods, recipes, and supplements!

Top 5 Immune-Boosting Foods

Here are my top 5 favorite immune-boosting foods! Find registered dietitian approved recipes that are healthy, easy, and packed with nutrients below.

1. Ginger

Ginger is a root that can also be found in powdered and liquid forms. Ginger has powerful antioxidant properties, helping to fight inflammation and repair cellular health. Ginger has also been studied extensively in its benefits for natural treatment of nausea, pain, headaches, and migraines.

One study examined the effects of ginger extract on the immune system cells and cell antibodies.Supplementation of ginger enhanced the number of antibodies in the blood, which indicates a fiercer response to infections. (1)

2. Garlic

Garlic has been used and studied extensively for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Garlic contains a high amount of sulfur (which is also what gives it the potent smell). The sulfur component, allicin, is what has powerful anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties.

One study had participants supplement with garlic extract for 90 days. They found this group experienced less frequency and severity of cold and flu symptoms. (2)

3. Dark Green Vegetables

Dark green vegetables contain a high amount of beta-carotene, which the liver converts into vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant and vitamin. Vitamin A boosts immunity by increasing the production of white blood cells (our body's defense system).

There are extensive studies that show eating dark green vegetables daily help to support immune health and reduce inflammation in the body. Here is a study showing just that, note that the term oxidative stress refers to the damage caused by damage to our body's cells. (3)

4. Citrus Fruits

Citrus is probably the most well known and accepted food group recommended for immune health. Vitamin C is an antioxidant present in high amounts in citrus fruits (and peppers!). Vitamin C works by increasing the production of white blood cells, our body's immune defense. Citrus is also high in antioxidants called bioflavonoids which balance free radicals (inflammation).

Most studies agree that supplementation of 1 to 2 grams of vitamin C per day can help reduce symptoms of a cold and flu as well as help boost your white blood cells for faster recovery. (4)

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is a root that is most commonly found as a spice in our pantry. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is the nutrient most commonly studied in its benefit for immune health, inflammation, and many other conditions and symptoms.

One study found that supplementation of curcumin changed the body's immune system response by blocking enzymes that caused inflammation. (5)

These foods are powerful for immune health and immunity because they contain a higher amount of nutrients and antioxidants than other foods. You can also find nutrition supplements that will provide you with these immune-boosting benefits. Below are my top recommended nutrition supplements for immune health and overall nutrition support.

My goal is always to keep supplements what they are "supplemental" to a healthy, whole food diet.

Supplements for Immune Health

When choosing a supplement, make sure you are choosing high-quality brands that use third-party testing, clean ingredients, and avoid artificial fillers.

Where can you get trusted, high-quality supplements?

For high-quality supplements, I recommend using a certified and trusted site that gets their product directly from practitioner-approved companies. Fullscript is an online supplement dispensary where you can find many practitioner-approved, third-party tested brands. Sign up for a free account here.

Top Immune-Boosting Supplements

1. Vitamin C

A yummy whole food, organic tangerine Amla Berry Vitamin C Spray

This spray uses organic Amla berry with bioflavonoids that help increase vitamin C absorption. Bioflavonoids are potent polyphenol antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage. You can also take a higher dose in a whole food, organic powdered form.

2. Antioxidant Rich Powder

Turmeric Response Powder by Innate Response

I love this powder because it is a blend of well-studied foods, roots, and herbs to support a healthy inflammatory response in the body. This powder is easy to add to your smoothie, juice, or shake. A tasty, nutrient pack combination of Turmeric, Tart Cherry, Holy Basil, and Berries.

3. Organic Greens Powder

Premier Greens Organic Powder

This powder is a vegan blend of organic greens you can easily add to your smoothie.

Organic Barley Grass, Organic Oat Grass, Organic Kale, Organic Chlorella plus a garden blend of 100% vegetarian greens carefully harvested and low-temperature air-dried to preserve the broad array of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals to help support the alkalinity of the body.

4. Immune Boosting Liquid

Immune Support Liquid by Pure Encapsulations

This supplement provides important nutrients for immune health including vitamin C, zinc, and well-studied herbals including elderberry and lemon balm. These factors are blended for a broad-spectrum immune support.

Where can you get trusted, high-quality supplements?

For high-quality supplements, I recommend using a certified and trusted site that gets their product directly from practitioner-approved companies. Fullscript is an online supplement dispensary where you can find many practitioner-approved, third-party tested brands. Sign up for a free account here.

Please always consult with your physician or health care provider before starting a new supplement or regimen. You want to make sure supplements are safe for medical conditions, medications, and current supplement regimen.

Immune Boosting Recipes

Immune Boosting Recipes

Bright Green Smoothie

  • Handful of spinach

  • Handful of kale

  • Fresh parsley

  • 1 cup of organic berries

  • Half organic lemon with the peel

  • 1 tsp ground flax seeds

  • Optional: turmeric powder

  • 1-2 cups of water, juice, or unsweetened milk of choice

Blend greens and liquid first until smooth. Then add fruit and additional flavorings if desired.

Carrot Ginger Soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp diced ginger

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 clove garlic diced

  • 1 bunch carrots, peeled and diced

  • 4 cups broth

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 scallion thinly sliced

Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil. Add turmeric and toast spice for 1 minute. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add carrots and mix well. Add stock and simmer for 20-30 minutes until carrots are soften.

Turn heat off and let cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree soup. Turn heat back on to warm up soup. Serve with scallions as a garnish and finish a pinch of salt and pepper. Makes 4 cups

Raw Kale Salad

  • 1 large bunch kale, 8 cups

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp. honey

  • ½ tsp. salt

  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, etc.)

  • 1/3 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc.)

Finely shred kale. Make a paste with the garlic and salt by pressing with the flat blade of a knife. In a bowl, mix olive oil and honey. Put sliced kale in bowl and massage garlic paste into leaves for five minutes (this process “cooks” the kale and removes bitterness). Top with dried fruit and nuts, also can add fresh fruit in season such as diced apples, peaches, etc.

Turmeric Paste

  • ½ cup organic turmeric powder

  • 1.5 tsp black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon

  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger

  • ¼ cup coconut oil

  • 1 ¾ cups water

  • 3 Tbsp. honey

Combine all the ingredients, except honey, in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high, whisking frequently. Bring mixture to a boil for 10 minutes. Boiling is crucial to getting a smooth texture and reducing the bitter flavor of the turmeric.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. The mixture may have separated a little, but that’s okay. Whisk in honey, to sweeten. Honey also helps to emulsify the mixture. Store your turmeric paste in a glass jar. The mixture should last for several months in the fridge.

To make a latte, combine: 2 tsp. turmeric paste with 1.5 cups warm milk of choice. Whisk ingredients together, or for a frothier texture use a blender.

Interested in taking next steps to balancing hormones and healing your gut? Check out my Hormone Hub group program here!

Liz Riesen, Registered Dietitian

specializes in digestive and hormone imbalances. Often these conditions coexist and share common disruptive symptoms including mood changes, bloating, pain, irregular cycles, inflammation, and more. Liz is trained in identifying and healing food sensitivities, as well as balancing hormones naturally through nutrition and lifestyle.

Join me in the Hormone Hub and learn all about digestion & hormones.

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