12 foods that boost your immune system

Discover 12 of the best foods to support a healthy immune system.

12 foods that boost your immune system
minute read

Immunity is a complex equation, with factors ranging from genetics and environment to nutrition, supplementation, and seasonal changes. There may not be a universal approach to immune health, but one thing is certain: diet makes a difference.

If you want to build your body’s defenses to the best of your ability, you can’t rely on the staples of the standard junk diet. While convenient and familiar, the usual array of fried foods and sugary drinks will do more harm than good regarding immunity.

While you may know which foods to avoid in your diet plan, boosting immunity also requires adding healthy foods you might be missing. This article will cover 12 of the best foods for immune function, and offer some extra insights to keep your system going strong year-round.

What is the immune system?

We all have an idea of what the immune system does, but what are the actual components and mechanisms at play

The first level of immunity involves physical barriers like skin and membranes, combined with specialized cells that identify and destroy pathogens when they enter the system. Think of a fortress with high walls and armed forces ready to defend the gates at any time.

On a deeper level, immunity has an adaptive element that develops over time, responding to changing environmental factors and learning from past experiences. This is where white blood cells come into play, coordinating unique immune responses and producing helper cells like antibodies. When you hear about B cells and T cells, this is where they operate.

So, if you’re looking to boost your immune system through nutrition and lifestyle choices, keep in mind that there are several layers of immune function that all work together.

Which nutrients support the immune system?

With so many moving parts in the immune system, it’s tough to pinpoint just one or two nutrients that support immunity. The good news, though, is that some of the most delicious foods are actually great for immune health—meaning you can whip up an immune-supporting diet with relative ease.

But which foods, exactly, should you choose to help support your immune health? Let’s take a closer look.

12 foods that support immune health

Now that we’ve shed light on the mysteries of immunity and the nutrients that support it, we are ready to explore some foods that you (and your immune system) will love. Keep these foods on your grocery list so you can enjoy each meal and elevate your health inside and out.

1. Blueberries

These juicy summertime berries aren’t just tasty—they’re a proven powerhouse that can supercharge your immunity with just a handful. 

With antioxidants—namely, flavonoids like anthocyanins—blueberries help your body properly clear up free radicals and keep your system revved up. In case you needed another reason to add blueberries to your diet, they’re also rich in vitamins C and K, which further support your defenses.

2. Fatty fish

From salmon and mackerel to sardines and more, you’ve got plenty of tasty ways to increase your intake of fatty fish. This type of seafood is loaded with omega-3s that will keep your most crucial immune cells going strong (and provide a range of other health benefits). 

Besides, fish is a great source of protein, ensuring you recover from physical activity without feeling worn down. This balance of protein and fat is optimal for immune function and overall health.

3. Garlic

Garlic might not benefit your breath, but for immunity, there are few foods that do a better job of protecting your body from pathogens. 

Garlic is naturally antimicrobial, meaning that bacteria and viruses are less likely to survive when trying to enter your system. Additionally, it assists immune function by boosting metabolic function in cells, keeping them on high alert and ready to leap into the fight when needed.

4. Grapefruit

While most citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, grapefruit is on another level in terms of the concentration and efficacy of this key compound. The grapefruit is also relatively low in sugar and contains extra fiber to keep your gut happy. 

You might find the taste acidic, but get this: that acid is key for maintaining healthy pH in the body and keeping you balanced on every level. Once you acquire the taste for grapefruit, you’ll be happy you gave it an honest try.

5. Green tea

If you’ve been looking to switch away from coffee, green tea is here to save the day with extra immune health effects. It’s packed with antioxidants that enhance the impact of immune cells everywhere. The compounds in green tea also support antiviral abilities and offer a minor metabolic boost in the morning or afternoon. Add a squeeze of lemon to your green tea to create a powerhouse immune-boosting beverage.

6. Kimchi

Fermented foods are the unsung heroes in the battle of immune health, and kimchi is one asset you can’t afford to exclude. This traditional Korean food is made from cabbage, various veggies, and plenty of spices, making it ideal for probiotic support. 

Since so much of our immune system hinges on a healthy gut, kimchi can help heal and strengthen this key part of the body. A strong gut will also help you absorb and digest everything you eat so that you get the most bang for your buck on nutrition in general.

7. Kiwis

The kiwi might not look like much, but when it comes to immune health, this fuzzy green fruit is a must. It features an impressive profile of vitamins, including C, K, E, and many more. These vitamins support white blood cell production and give you the edge when combating toxins and pathogens. 

As a bonus, kiwis contain healthy fiber and promote the digestion of meats and starches. It’s a sweet way to get your daily vitamins without relying on a capsule.

8. Leafy greens

We all know to eat our leafy greens, but now we have a good reason to include them in the rotation more often. Greens like kale, spinach, and chard are all packed with minerals, antioxidants, and plenty of vitamins. 

You can easily combine them with garlic, olive oil, and sea salt to make a delicious side dish to accompany fatty fish or a vegetarian protein option. It may take some time to learn to love leafy greens, but you’ll be glad you did.

9. Lentils

The lentil is an unassuming legume that packs a big punch for immune support. If you’ve been waiting for a vegetarian protein alternative, lentils should be first on your list. They contain plenty of iron and zinc, minerals that plant-based eaters often struggle to find. 

Between the protein and the healthy extras, you’ve got a balanced source of nutrition that will also keep your immune system strong. 

10. Sunflower seeds

Looking for a simple snack with immune-boosting benefits? Sunflower seeds are exactly what you’ve been missing. A handful of sunflower seeds will give you a blast of vitamin E and polyphenols, which will protect immune cells from oxidative damage. 

The natural oils found in these seeds are also a great source of fatty acids that will go a long way in immune support.

11. Sweet potatoes

For anyone tired of the usual rice or pasta, sweet potatoes offer a tasty and highly nutritious carb source with added immunity benefits. The beta-carotene from sweet potatoes will help your body produce vitamin A, which supports skin and protective membranes throughout the body. For the first line of defense, sweet potatoes are a great pick.

12. Turmeric

With the powerful compound curcumin, turmeric is an amazing antioxidant with soothing and tension-reducing properties. Sprinkle a bit of turmeric on meat, legumes, or the starch of your choice, and enjoy the spicy flavors with plenty of immune support. 

How else can you support immune health?

Boosting immunity is a never-ending process, and diet is just one aspect to consider. But now that you have a solid grocery list to work with, let’s check out some other lifestyle factors that you can add to the mix for better immunity.

Quality sleep

Your body needs sleep to repair damaged cells, restore depleted nutrients, and give you the energy to take on any challenge. If you’re struggling with getting enough sleep, a sleep hygiene strategy and CBN support can help get you back on track.*

Regular physical activity

Staying physically active is a great way to boost metabolism and maintain high immune function. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily, and don’t be afraid to try strength training or high-intensity interval sessions.

Stress management

Stress is one of the greatest enemies to the immune system, as it drains your body’s resources and leaves defenses open to attack. Combat stress with healthy techniques like mindfulness, breathwork, yoga, and other forms of self-care. This is especially important during flu season or when fighting respiratory tract infections.


Cannabidiol can ease tension and support overall wellness, but it may also boost immunity by interacting with CB2 receptors in the peripheral organs, especially white blood cells. For a well-rounded CBD product with additional immunity boosters, check out Sunmed’s Full Spectrum Immune+ Tincture. It features organic hemp extract, vitamins, and citrus terpenes to keep your system optimally balanced.*

The flavors and effects of this CBD powerhouse are real, natural, and undeniably powerful. For a simple gel cap format, our Immune+ capsules do the trick.*

Bottom line

Immunity isn’t about theory—it’s the ultimate form of protection and longevity for your body. Between a comprehensive of immune-supporting ingredients and actionable lifestyle tips, you have all the components required to stay healthy, strong, and happy. 


Overview of the Immune System | NIH

6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System | Houston Methodist

Fight off the flu with immune-boosting nutrients | Mayo Clinic

Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol | NIH

The Link between Cannabis Use, Immune System, and Viral Infections | NIH