We are all in the thick of it right now. With kids back to school, seasonal allergies, the onslaught of a new COVID variant, and the beginning of flu season, it is time to consider how to boost our immunities from all fronts. At Innova Primary Care, we want everyone to be safe and informed. We know that wellness isn’t just the absence of illness. Health encompasses the mind, body, and soul. We also know that sickness is bound to occur as the seasons change and our children are back in their classrooms. So, what can you do to help support your immune system for the onslaught of incoming viruses and bacteria?

We can’t promise you won’t get sick, but we can help you by suggesting the best foods to boost your immunity during this season. Read on for more information on keeping you and your family eating optimally to prevent illness this year.

What is the immune system?

Immunity is a word often thrown about in medical articles and such, but what exactly is the immune system in layperson’s terms? In simplistic terms, the immune system is the body’s defense system against anything that can make you ill. These things include germs, cellular changes, substances, and the like. The primary goal of your immune system is very complex and involves your cells, organs, and proteins, all of which help your body fight infection and disease. In short, your immune system is your body’s first defense against disease and illness.

In all honesty, defining the immune system is well beyond the scope of this article, but we will do our best to make the information accessible and easy to digest. We know it’s a lot!

immune system

Why is a robust immune system important?

A robust immune system helps protect you from pathogens. Your body is wonderfully powerful at protecting you from illness and disease. It helps counteract cellular changes that can lead to conditions such as cancer and aids your body in detecting challenges to your body from harmful substances. You don’t often notice that something is out of alignment with your immune system until you get sick. For this reason alone, you must know how to treat your health in such a way as to boost your immunity for protection from microbes and pathogens that seek to do you harm.

When your immune system is healthy, you can fight illness more effectively. Wounds heal easier, and you feel at your best, not to mention the benefits of less fatigue and fewer infections. Your body’s natural defense system is hard at work every day, fighting off potential hazards that are bent on making you sick. 

You cannot prevent every illness

The reality is that bacteria, fungi, microbes, and pathogens are everywhere! Try as you might, you can’t escape every bug out there. You can, however, take some preventive measures in the form of a nutritious immune-boosting diet. Keep in mind that diet alone is not the only thing you can do to boost your immunity. Get adequate sleep, exercise, wash your hands, and keep surfaces clean. We can all do general healthy habits to help ourselves and others. If you get sick, stay home and avoid close contact with others until you feel better and are no longer contagious.

Key Nutrients for Immunity

It’s often been said that diet is the best medicine. In fact, a 2019 article from Time Magazine noted the powerful impact a good diet has on health. When we get sick, most of us reach for an extra boost of vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D to kick the crud to the curb quickly. While no single nutrient or mineral will prevent illness, a diet rich in nutritious foods can help you when the germs head your way.

It is best to consider a variety of nutrient-dense foods when doing your weekly meal planning, but the below nutrients are vital in helping boost immune health:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Beta Carotene
  • Probiotics
  • Protein
  • Vitamin E

immune system

Immune Boosting Foods

Citrus Fruits

Rich in vitamin C, citrus fruits can be eaten whole or squeezed and contain loads of immune-boosting vitamin C. You have so many to choose from. Oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruits pack a powerful punch to help you stay well.

Leafy Greens

High in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and antioxidants, you cannot go wrong with more leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach, cabbage, watercress, and more. You can eat leafy greens raw, sauteed, cooked, and added to other dishes.


 Berries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, making them a great choice to help boost immunity and add flavor or a sweet treat to your meals. Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, berries can help you stay on track. Blueberries, for example, are full of flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps repair cellular damage and improves immunity. Blackberries contain vitamin A, while cranberries contain vitamins A, K, C, and other antioxidants.  

Nuts and Seeds

Not only do nuts and seeds provide healthy fats and add a delicious crunch to salads and yogurts, but they are also excellent sources of vitamin E and zinc, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin B-6.

Fatty Fish

Omega 3 fatty acids are vital to overall health. Not only do they help enrich the immune system, but they are necessary to cellular structure and provide energy. Fishes rich in omega-3 include salmon, anchovies, herring, marlin, sardines, tuna, and more. If eating fish isn’t your thing, you can always find a good omega-3 supplement to assist with getting this powerful nutrient without consuming fish.  

Probiotic-Rich Foods

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help maintain a balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut and can help strengthen your microbiome and immunity. Foods like yogurts, pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, kefir, olives, sourdough bread, and more are all pre-biotic foods you can add to your diet.

Don’t forget lean protein.

Protein is essential for healthy functioning across most systems within the body and is absolutely necessary for a healthy immune system. You don’t have to go all out and only eat protein to maximize the benefits. Protein is the building block of our bodies, and it also assists with recovery, the building of antibodies, and aids the immune system by helping with glutathione synthesis.

Benefits of a Diverse Diet

Your immune system benefits from a diverse diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants. It is a powerful machine set up to do so much work on your behalf, work you might not be aware of. Your body’s immune system is the driver in helping keep you healthy, but there are things you can incorporate right now, like a nutrient-dense diet, to help boost your immunity and help fight off illness.

We suggest starting with your diet if you want a small yet significant way to help you stay well this cold and flu season. A few changes can go a long way. As always, Innova Primary Care is here to help you stay well mind, body, and soul. Please contact us if you have questions on how to improve your diet for immune health. Stay well!