Eat These Five Foods to Support Your Immune System This Winter

Eat These Five Foods to Support Your Immune System This Winter

by Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian

Feed a cold, starve a fever? As with everything in the body, the complexity of the immune system belies a simple explanation; the science of nutrition and immunity is far less certain than you might expect. However, it is true that the immune system is dependent on adequate nourishment to thrive. Read on for five delicious ways to support a strong immune system to help you keep cold and flu season at bay.

Organic Tofu

Not the first food you might have expected in a list of immune boosting foods? Well, organic tofu is an economical and healthy source of protein. Low protein diets are associated with lowered immune response, including lower immunoglobulin A, T cells and macrophages. Ensure you get a concentrated source of protein ( a bit of peanut butter won’t cut it) at every meal to keep protein intake consistent.


While the evidence on the impact of garlic intake on illness prevention is mixed, garlic has demonstrated antibacterial and antiviral activity in the lab. In addition, garlic is thought to be preventive for certain forms of cancer. The key is to eat garlic faithfully: take at least a clove a day, preferably in raw form. Yikes! Worried about alienating your dinner companions? Crush garlic and add at the end of cooking, not the beginning, for a milder rush.

Sweet Potatoes

This star of the winter table is packed with beta-carotene, which the body converts into immune-builder vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with decreased resistance to infection as it influences levels of immune B cells and T cells. Eat sweet potatoes and other bright green and orange veggies daily.

Pumpkin Seeds

Just how do pumpkin seeds support immunity? They are rich in the mineral zinc, which influences the activity of immune T cells. Just ¼ cup daily will give you roughly half (for women) or a third (for men) of your daily needs.


This traditional cold remedy is thought to support the immune system in two ways: one, that it brings heat to the body and a little old fashioned sweat is good for getting the bugs out. Secondly, ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory and as such, helps support the normal functioning of the immune system. Sip a hot ginger tea with plenty of lemon and turmeric when you feel a bit under the weather (recipe here)

Desiree Nielsen
About the author
Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian
Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vvegetarian ccooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
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