9 Foods That Can Boost Your Immune System This Winter

January 10, 2014
by Michael Barber
9 Foods That Can Boost Your Immune System This Winter

The flu virus is most infectious in dry, cold weather which is why the winter months are such a common time for it - and why you should always get a flu shot in the fall. Keep your immune system healthy so you can make it through the holidays with cheer using these natural immunity boosters.

Related: 7 Surprising Things You're Doing to Help Yourself Get the Flu


Mushrooms pack a one-two punch against harmful winter viruses. The polysaccharides help strengthen your immunity. Mushrooms also increase your production of cytokines which fight infection. The best choices are maitake, reishi, and shitake.

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Look for yogurts with the “Live and Active Cultures” seal for immune-boosting benefits. The live cultures in yogurt will boost the level of healthy bacteria in your gut and intestinal tract. This helps fight off harmful strains in the same area to keep you healthy. Look for the specific bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri for the most benefits. Just 7 ounces a day will boost your immunity.

Onion and Garlic

Onion and garlic work best when used together. They offer antiseptic benefits as well as ample support for your immune system. Onion has lots of vitamin E. Garlic contains allicin to fight bacteria and infections. If you’re already sick, garlic can help open up your sinuses as well.

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Two servings of fish each week will help ramp up your omega-3 fats. These healthy fats protect your lungs from infection and colds. Omega-3s also help reduce inflammation, which is an added bonus if you’re already fighting off a virus. Choose shellfish for a dose of selenium, which helps boost virus-fighting white blood cells.


This sweet sticky favorite packs a surprising host of benefits. It contains both antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities. The best form of honey is buckwheat. Clover honey, while the most common, also has the lower levels of antioxidants. If you’re battling a sore throat already, honey will also help to coat and soothe it.


This seasonal winter vegetable is a great choice for immune benefits. It contains the antioxidant glutamine which will help keep your body in fighting shape against viruses.

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Chicken Soup

It turns out there’s some real science behind this folk remedy. Cysteine, an amino acid, is released from the chicken when it’s cooked. This bears a strong chemical resemblance to acetylcysteine, a medication for bronchitis. This helps block cold symptoms while the soup’s broth thins out mucus. Many soups also contain onion and garlic, noted above for their own benefits.


You may have sipped ginger ale while fighting a flu to settle your stomach without really understanding how this powerful food works. Ginger contains sesquiterpenes which help your body battle the rhinovirus. Ginger also helps reduce couching, manage pain, and lower fevers. Try tea with fresh ginger for the most potent benefits.


Oysters are high in zinc, which is essential for many immune system functions. More than an aphrodisiac, this food could help you get back to your regular routine faster and battle that cold or flu.

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Pack your diet with these powerful foods and your immune system will work at maximum efficiency to keep you healthy all season long.