The immune system helps protect the body against contractable illnesses, such as a cold and the flu. Nutrition is an important part of ensuring that the immune system stays strong.
On the other hand, eating foods that contain certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, may help boost the immune system.
This article will explore specific foods that may weaken the immune system and others that may help boost it.
Anyone looking to support their immune function may want to limit or avoid the following types of foods.
Many processed foods contain unhealthy fats, sugars, and additives. These can improve a product’s taste, texture, and shelf life, but as the studies below suggest, they may weaken the immune system.
Some processed foods with high amounts of additives include:
- canned foods
- microwaveable meals
- cakes and cookies
Meanwhile, a 2014 review of studies noted that a high intake of salt, refined sugar, saturated fat, and omega-6 fatty acids, along with a shortage of omega-3 fatty acids, can damage the immune system.
Eating sugars and fats in processed foods might also lead to an overconsumption of calories, which can increase the risk of obesity. Obesity can lead to inflammation, which can
Foods high in sugar
Some foods that tend to be high in sugar include:
- preserves, marmalades, and sweets
- cookies and cakes
- flavored milk and sweetened dairy products
- sugary breakfast cereals
- sugary drinks, such as soda
Also, eating a diet high in sugar may limit the immune system’s ability to combat disease. It may do this by reducing the effectiveness of white blood cells and increasing inflammation.
Foods high in refined carbohydrates
Foods that are processed and high in refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and refined sugar,
Some foods that contain refined carbohydrates
- white rice
- white bread
- sweets, cookies, and cakes made with white flour
Having a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet can help with maintaining a moderate body weight, which
The following foods may provide more specific immune-boosting benefits.
These are good sources of vitamin C, and a
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect important molecules in the body, such as proteins and carbohydrates, from environmental and biological damage.
Vitamin C also helps promote metabolic energy and hormone regulation, and it is necessary for collagen production.
The same 2017 study reported that most people should aim to consume 100–200 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per day.
Foods that contain zinc
Zinc is an essential mineral that
The recommended daily intake of zinc ranges from
Some dietary sources of zinc include:
- baked beans
- fortified cereals
- chicken breast
People have been using ginger to add flavor for centuries. More recently, researchers have investigated its effects on the immune system.
The analysis also found that ginger supplements helped reduce body weight in people with obesity. This may mean that ginger also improves the health of the immune system indirectly, as obesity
Anyone looking to support their immune system might want to limit their intake of foods high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and additives. These foods may suppress immune function.
A varied diet that is rich in nutrients, on the other hand, may boost the immune system and help reduce inflammation.