Healthy Foods To Keep The Immune System On Tip-top Shape This Winter

Nov 18, 2020 07:53 PM EST | By Kristine M. (


Eat your way to a healthy and humming immune system this winter to keep sickness and diseases at bay. 

Along with the cold weather, winter also can bring several illnesses and diseases that trigger a weak immune system. 

Leader of the Nutritional Immunology Team and Senior Scientist, Dr. Simin Meydani, says how our immune system responds to pathogens and how well it can defend itself is hugely affected by what we eat. Additionally, staying healthy and building your immune defenses can be done by consuming healthy food.

Healthy Foods To Keep The Immune System On Tip-top Shape This Winter
(Photo : Unsplash / Jason Briscoe)

According to Healthy Food, our immune system has two layers of defense. First is called non-specific or innate immunity, which identifies and destroys bacteria and viruses. This layer protects us daily. This defense works through a set of proteins and cytokines to assist white blood cells in fighting off bacteria and viruses.

Read also: Avoid Getting Fooled by These 5 'Health Foods' That Are Junk Foods in Disguise

Meanwhile, the other defense layer is called specific or adaptive immunity, which is activated once we get an infection. This is when the antibodies are unleashed to fight a particular bacteria or virus. In order to ensure that these two layers of defenses are maintained healthy, our body requires nutrients like zinc, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B complex.

Boosting The Immune System Through Food

Eating a vast selection of fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables each day is the best route to a healthy immune system. Plus, do not forget to add high-quality whole grains, lean protein, and healthy oils. Dr. Meydami says that to maximize the impact of food on the immune system, increasing the portion of fruits and vegetables consumed each day is essential.

Her team of researchers analyzed a controlled group of animals fed two to three servings of fruits and vegetables, and another that was given eight to nine servings. They found out that the group provided with more servings had better immune defenses than those fed with fewer servings. 

Healthy Foods To Keep The Immune System On Tip-top Shape This Winter
(Photo : Unsplash / Farhad Ibrahimzade)

Sadly, according to CNN, studies reveal that nearly 90% of Americans eat fewer than three servings of vegetables. Additionally, more than 70% did not meet the daily recommendations for fruit consumption. Dr. Meydani stresses that people need to conscientiously work on their fruit and vegetable intake to reach a substantial level. 


Although we can get these micronutrients in fruits and vegetables, some people have limited access to healthier food choices. In addition, some need additional micronutrients to their diet, like those who are over the age of 65.

Healthy Foods To Keep The Immune System On Tip-top Shape This Winter
(Photo : Unsplash / Michele Blackwell)

Dr. Meydani states that for older people who are healthy, active but above the age of 65, nutrient supplementation might be beneficial.

Anti-Inflammatory Eats

Another good reason to pack your plate with a variety of fruits and veggies is to have control of your body's inflammatory response to bacteria and viruses. To get rid of the pathogens and help the body's immune system perform its function, a certain amount of inflammatory response is required, according to Dr. Meydani. 

Healthy Foods To Keep The Immune System On Tip-top Shape This Winter
(Photo : Unsplash / Maarten van den Heuvel)

Choose to include leafy greens, tomatoes, fruits, nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil to your daily diet instead of overly processed, fat-laden foods and sugary drinks.

Related article: Coronavirus and Thanksgiving: Creative Ways to Safely Celebrate Amid the Pandemic

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