Best Eating Habits to Strengthen Your Immune System, Says Dietitian — Eat This Not That

By Ghuman


Eating healthy is one of the best ways to strengthen your immune system and protect yourself from illness. But with so many different diets and nutrition advice out there, it can be hard to know what to eat and what to avoid. That’s why it’s important to consult a dietitian to get the best advice on how to eat for optimal health. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best eating habits to strengthen your immune system, according to a dietitian. We’ll also provide some tips on what to eat and what to avoid, so you can make the most of your diet and stay healthy.

Best Eating Habits to Strengthen Your Immune System, Says Dietitian — Eat This Not That

Eating healthy is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. But with so many different diets and nutrition advice out there, it can be hard to know what to eat and what to avoid. To help you make the best choices for your health, we asked a dietitian to share her top tips for eating habits that will help strengthen your immune system.

Eat a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help support your immune system. Aim to eat a variety of colors and types of produce each day. This will ensure you get a wide range of nutrients to help keep your body healthy.

Include Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, are important for a strong immune system. They help your body absorb vitamins and minerals, and they provide energy for your cells. Aim to include healthy fats in your diet every day.

Choose Whole Grains

Whole grains are a great source of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system healthy. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals that help support your immune system. Choose whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals whenever possible.

Limit Processed Foods

Processed foods are often high in sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats, which can weaken your immune system. Try to limit your intake of processed foods and opt for fresh, whole foods whenever possible.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential for a strong immune system. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep your body hydrated and functioning properly. You can also get fluids from other beverages, such as herbal teas and low-sugar juices.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for a strong immune system. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to give your body time to rest and recharge. This will help your body fight off infections and stay healthy.

Manage Stress

Stress can weaken your immune system, so it’s important to find ways to manage it. Try activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to help reduce stress and keep your immune system strong.

By following these tips, you can help strengthen your immune system and keep your body healthy. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress are all important for a strong immune system.

Your immune system is a complex network of several organs and tissues and more than 15 different specialized immune cells like T-cells, natural killer cells, and basophils that all work together to defend your body against pathogens—whether that’s harmful bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. To say it’s pretty complex would be an understatement. However, despite the complexity of your immune system, it’s not as difficult to keep it operating at its best. In fact, one of the easiest ways to support immune health is by following a healthy diet.

For some specific habits to follow to bolster your immunity, read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

nutrient rich foods

Since no single food will provide all the nutrients your immune system needs to function at its best, focus on a total diet approach and choose natural, whole foods like fruits and veggies; lean proteins; wholesome fats; and whole grains. All of these types of foods can help ensure that you meet the recommended daily intakes for key immune-boosting nutrients. The nutrients most closely linked to cells in the immune system include vitamins C and D; vitamin K, selenium, lycopene, probiotics, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Most of your meals and snacks should focus on nutrient-packed natural, whole foods while limiting processed foods; baked goods; sweets and salty snacks; and alcohol as these foods and beverages provide so-called “negative nutrients” that tamp down the body’s natural immune response.

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omega 3

Long-chain omega-3 fats, present in foods like fatty fish, walnuts, seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds help temper inflammation and enhance immune function. A review study reported that there are 30 years of research supporting the role of omega-3 fats in a healthy immune system.

To maintain a healthy balance of omega-3s to immune-weakening omega-6 fatty acids, try to have omega-3 rich foods frequently in your diet while limiting foods rich in processed oils including soybean, sunflower, and canola oils, which are rich in omega-6 fats. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats have been shown to suppress the immune system when eaten in excess. To limit omega-6 fats and saturated fats limit high-fat meat and full-fat dairy products, processed foods, commercial baked goods, crackers, and other packaged shelf-stable and frozen foods.


Eating 5 to 8 servings of colorful produce can also support your immune health. Seek to include a rainbow of colorful foods in your diet, including reds, orange, yellow, blues, greens, and whites. One color we shouldn’t forget is brown—the color of mushrooms.

Mushrooms contain several nutrients important to immune function including vitamin D, selenium, beta-glucans, and antioxidants. One study found that participants who enjoyed mushrooms daily had improved immunity and reduced inflammation, compared to controls. Include citrus daily for its immune benefits. Citrus is rich in vitamin C and folate and many beneficial antioxidants. Try in-season Cara Cara oranges for the additional antioxidant lycopene they provide. Other lycopene-rich produce picks include watermelon and tomatoes.


Many foods provide the nutrients that your immune system thrives on, while other foods may weaken your body’s immune response. These foods include those high in added sugars, like soda, baked goods, and candy. Researchers believe that added sugars inhibit your immune response and alter your gut microbiome.

Studies show that individuals with high blood sugar have higher levels of pro-inflammatory markers and a suppressed immune response. What’s more, if your meals and snacks are full of foods and beverages rich in added sugars, it means that you’re likely missing out on those important nutrients for optimal immunity, including zinc.

READ MORE: 19 Ways You’re Wrecking Your Immune System, Say Experts

refuse alcohol

It’s okay to enjoy an alcoholic beverage on occasion, but reams of research show that there is an association between excessive alcohol or binge drinking and immune-related health issues. In fact, research shows that alcohol disrupts normal immune pathways, making it harder to defend against colds, flu, and respiratory diseases. Studies show that alcohol alters the beneficial microbes in the GI tract, which help trigger a normal immune response. If you drink, stick to public health guidelines, and enjoy no more than a drink per day; but for your immune health, limiting alcohol is best.

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