When it comes to immune support, many people turn to supplements – which can be helpful – but only if you have the foundational basics down.
Food really is medicine.
What you eat has a direct impact on the function of your immune system in several ways.
1. Food provides vitamins and minerals (like vitamin A, C, D, and zinc) for your immune system to function properly.
2. Food provides proteins to build immune system cells, such as white blood cells.
3. Fibre feeds healthy gut bacteria, which directly support your immune function.
4. Fermented foods provide probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) that support immune function in the gut.
Eating foods rich in these nutrients can help support and optimize your immune function.
- Zinc: shellfish, pumpkin seeds
- Vitamin C: citrus, red pepper, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, strawberries
- Vitamin D: dairy, fortified alternative milks (almond, coconut, soy), fish, mushrooms
- Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts and seeds
- Animal proteins: meat, fish, eggs, cheese
- Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegan alternative meat options
- Protein powder
Fibre: Aim for 30 grams or more of fibre per day from a wide variety of sources like
- Whole grains: oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice
- Beans & lentils: the highest in fibre: 1 cup is 18 g!
- Fruits & vegetables as much as possible: aim for 8 to 10 servings per day
- Nuts & seeds
Fermented foods: Fermented foods contain naturally occurring probiotics – healthy bacteria that interact directly with your immune system in your gut.
They also help optimize bowel movements, reduce inflammation and optimize digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Yogurt is a great option – top it with nuts, seeds and berries. If you’re dairy free you can try vegan yogurt or other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi or miso.
Note: true fermented foods are cloudy and stored in the fridge. They do not contain added vinegar.
Struggling with healthy eating?
Get personalized nutrition guidance from a professional.
Book an appointment with registered nutritionist Melanie Thomas, CNP, RNCP, ROHP.