Immune boosting foods

Immune boosting foods

By Gabriele Fantelli

There is no doubt about it, nature has graced and surrounded us with an astonishing variety of health-boosting foods.  Unfortunately, our busy and hectic life, intensive crop growing, reduced wild varieties of foods (due to us spreading concrete everywhere), and our possible ignorance about certain foods, means that we don’t always get the best of what’s available to us.  We also nowadays tend not to get foods in their most natural state, depriving them of their best nutrients.  It doesn’t take much, a little research and information; a dietary swap here and there, can make a very big difference.

Here we take a look at readily available, ‘every-day’ foods that can really boost our health and wellbeing.  As with everything, slowly introduce changes into your diet and see what they do for you.  A lot of the results and the benefits we get are internal, however, if we know what to look for we can start to see the benefits.  More regular bowel movements, clearer urine, being less susceptible to the common seasonal coughs and sniffles, more energy, quicker responses, happier moods and so on.  Keeping a food diary could also help track changes in your health and diet.


Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Research shows that their properties could possibly include slowing down the development of cancer cells, as well as reducing inflammation.  They are believed to slow down the continuous decline in Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related conditions.  One of the most common effects of blueberries is the help in preventing urinary tract infections; this is due to its antioxidants.  A relatively new study shows that wild blueberry juice may help reducing blood sugar levels and relieve depression symptoms.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are a great booster of the immune system.  All it takes is a couple a day and we could already feel the benefit.  Packed with selenium, an array of vitamin Bs, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, Omega 6, to name a few!  They are possibly the biggest dietary source of selenium, which recent studies attribute to a possible lower risk of breast and prostate cancer.


Cranberries have good quantities of dietary fibre, vitamin C and other minerals.  Full of antioxidants, the potential health benefits of this berry include prevent some causes of tooth decay and prevent kidney stones.  Their properties may also help to prevent urinary tract infections such as cystitis in women and may reduce the amount of oral bacteria, thus being sometimes prescribed in order to prevent gingivitis.  They are also believed to be a stress-buster.


Ginger and its properties have been used for medicinal purposes for years and years.  It was frequently administered for constipation and colic.  It helps reduce the symptoms of certain types of diarrhoea and has been found to be effective in treating nausea from motion sickness and from pregnancy.  Ginger tea could be taken as a remedy for colds and ginger beer has been taken as a stomach settler in many of those countries where it is produced; it is also an ingredient for throat sweets.


Garlic has thought to have anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.  Some scientists also claim that it could prevent heart disease and reduce cholesterol.  It may help prevent the symptoms of the common cold and it is believed to regulate blood sugar levels, which is why it is recommended that people taking insulin should not take medicinal quantities of garlic without medical approval.

Garlic can be used as a remedy for chest infections, digestive system disorders and it has been reported to help relieve the symptoms of thrush.  It was also used during the two World Wars as an antiseptic to prevent flesh wound infections.  It also stimulates the development of “killer” cells which directly attack cancerous cells, boosting our all-round immunity.

A recent research also shows that garlic is able to neutralise many of the strains of MRSA that are immune to antibiotics.


Carrots are rich in beta-carotene which our body turns into vitamin A, dietary fibre, minerals and anti-oxidants.  It is known that vitamin A deficiency might cause poor vision and it can be treated by re-boosting our intake.  In 'folk-medicine' they have been administered as a treatment for intestinal and digestive problems and tonsillitis.


In traditional Chinese medicine walnuts are said to tonify the kidneys and help their function, strengthen the joints such as elbows, knees etc. and are very effective in the treatment of asthma.

They are rich in fibre, anti-oxidant, B vitamins and omega 3.  By adding walnuts to our diet, research shows that we could lower the risk of heart disease and help lowering cholesterol levels.  Walnuts have less than 4gm of saturated fat per 50gm, but they are quite high in calories!  Walnuts have the most amount of Omega 3 than any other nut.  Omega 3 is essential for our brain to function properly.  The lack of Omega 3 has been linked to symptoms of depression and of ADHD in children.


Scientists have, no long ago, found out that beetroot has a fantastic effect on lowering blood pressure.  According to studies, a third of people suffering from high blood pressure do not even realise it, until it is obviously too late.  Dietary changes can be a major factor at keeping high blood pressure at bay.  It also contains the mineral silica, very important for the wellbeing of muscles and bones, which helps lower the risk of osteoporosis.


There is almost no end to the powers of this vegetable.  Broccoli contains two very powerful anti-cancer substances.  It helps kill bacteria that causes stomach ulcers, believed to be one of the causes of gastric cancers.  It also helps our body metabolise oestrogen possibly shielding against breast cancer.  It is rich in beta-carotene and potassium, it really is the super, of the super-foods.


Avocados are the best fruit source of beta-sitosterol which can reduce cholesterol.  They are also very rich in the anti-oxidant “lutein” which has been found to help prevent cataracts.  Very easy to digest, they are especially recommended for people having problems digesting fats.

It is very interesting to know that gram for gram avocados have more folic acid, vitamin E, potassium, fibre and monounsaturated fat, than any other fruit.


Honey is good for your health, inside and out. It has many medicinal uses.  It is a good antiseptic to treat wounds, often used in war-torn areas of the world to aid healing of flesh wounds and burns.  It is used in many cosmetics and creams, as it has properties great for skin care.  Honey is an incredible food when it comes to boosting immunity, it also helps fight infection and helps tissue healing, as well as helping to reduce inflammation.

Honey is often used to help treat digestive problems such as diarrhea, indigestion, stomach ulcers and gastroenteritis.

Other great immunity boosters include:

Grapefruit – half a grapefruit provides 100% RDA vitamin C

Other citrus fruits – high in vitamin C

Chillis – chillis contain vitamin C and have antibacterial qualities, as well as boasting decongestant properties. They have even been shown to increase the metabolism

Turmeric – high in curcumin, this wonderful little spice has properties that are good for fighting colds and flu

Yoghurt – contains beneficial bacteria, try probiotics to help with digestive health

Red bell peppers – higher in vitamin C than citrus fruits, the bell pepper is a superfood that is also packed with betacarotenes

Spinach – Popeye had a point: not only is it packed full of vitamin C, it has betacarotenes, antioxidants and is a good source of iron

Tea, green or black – though green is naturally caffeine- free. Tea is full of antioxidants that help cleanse the body of free radicals

Almonds – packed with goodies, this underrated nut is a great source of vitamin E

Mushrooms – help our bodies produce white blood cells

Beef – for its zinc content

Sweet Potatoes – high in betacarotene

Oysters – a great source of zinc.

Further reading

We hope you have enjoyed reading about healthy eating for the mind, why not learn more with our features online:

Mental health and food

Mind Food - Carbohydrates

The Importance of B Vitamins

Mind Food - Omega 3, 6 and 9

Sources of Omega Fatty acids

Mind Food Recipes 

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