You chow down on orange slices or sip ginger tea when you feel a cold coming on—but incorporating immune-supporting foods in your daily diet may have been more of a bonus than a priority. But now, amid a pandemic and pending cold and flu season, a top question on your mind may be: what can I eat to boost my immune system?
While there’s no real way to “boost” the immune system, there are definitely ways to support immune function—and yes, a nutrient-rich diet is one.
“First of all 60 to 80% of our immune system is in our gut and is known as the Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT),” registered dietitian Ella Davar, R.D., CDN, explains. In other words, more than half of the immune system lives in the gut, so nurturing the microbiome is important.
Certain foods also contain nutrients, like antioxidants, zinc, and fiber, which play specific roles in the immune system. “That's why it is critical to focus on nutrition and the foods that we eat on a daily basis,” Davar says.
As for specific foods that help support the immune system? Experts have plenty of recommendations.