Immune System Boosters: Foods, Natural Remedies & Recipes

Updated in June 2023

Immune system boosters should be rich in vitamins and minerals, as these will prevent the development of certain illnesses and stimulate the body to recover from pre-existing injury or disease. You should also decrease your intake of fat, sugar and processed foods with food coloring and additives. There are also remedies and supplements you can take to boost your immunity. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to boost your body‘s natural defense system to keep it strong and efficient. You should avoid smoking and prioritize healthy food. It is also to exercise regularly, to keep your body weight within a healthy range, and to sleep 7 to 8 hours per night. Try avoiding stress when possible and consume alcohol in moderation.

These lifestyle habits should be maintained throughout the lifetime, and not just when you are sick.

Foods for immunity

Your daily diet is an important factor for adequate immune system functioning, and foods that are rich in omega-3, selenium, zinc, probiotics, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E are most recommended to boost immunity. These nutrients promote the production of defense cells in the body to keep them as efficient as possible. 

Some examples of specific foods include:

  • Omega-3: sardines, salmon, tina, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds 
  • Selenium: Brazilian nuts, wheat, rice, egg yolks, sunflower seeds, chicken, toast, cheese, cabbage and whole wheat flour 
  • Zinc: oysters, shrimp, beef, chicken, turkey, fish, liver, wheat germ, whole grains and nuts (chestnuts, peanuts and brazilian nuts) 
  • Vitamin C: oranges, tangerines, pineapple, lemon, strawberries, melon, papaya, mango, kiwi, broccoli, tomato, watermelon and unpeeled potatoes 
  • Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, mango, olive oil, tomato sauce, sunflower oil, walnuts and papaya 
  • Vitamin A: carrots, sweet potato, mango, spinach, melon, chards, red peppers, broccoli, lettuce and eggs 
  • Probiotics : Greek yogurt, kefir, or yakult 

Those who are looking to boost their immune system should prioritize these foods on a daily basis, and not just when they are sick, so that illnesses can be prevented. 

Natural remedies for immunity

Some natural remedies, like echinacea tea and propolis extract, are rich in vitamins, minerals and substances like flavonoids, which stimulate the immune system and boost immunity. 

How to boost immunity quickly

To quickly boost your immunity to strengthen your body against aggressive invaders, you should: 

  • Adopt healthy lifestyle habits by staying active, sleeping sufficiently and avoiding stressful situations 
  • Avoid cigarettes and cigarette exposure
  • Dedicate time to getting sun exposure every day without sunscreen (preferably until 10 am and after 4 pm) to increase vitamin D production in the body  
  • Eat healthy foods and maintain a balanced diet, by consuming fruits, greens and vegetables (preferably organic foods or home-grown without pesticides) 
  • Avoid eating fast food and processed foods or frozen foods, like pizza and lasagna. These foods contain substance that may trigger inflammation in the body. 
  • Do not take medications unless prescribed by a doctor
  • Drink at least 2 liters of mineral water or filtered water every day

If you are currently fighting a viral infection, like a cold or flu, you should avoid closed environments, like malls, theaters and cinemas. Be sure to wash you hands frequently with soap and water and to avoid touching you mouth, eyes and nose with dirty hands. These measures can also help to prevent illnesses, especially if you have a weakened immune system. 

How to boost immunity in babies and children  

The best way to strengthen a baby‘s immune system is by offering breastfeeding on-demand. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients needed for the baby to develop a strong immune system. Babies on formula milk can be supplemented with vitamins and minerals to ensure adequate immune system development. This will allow the baby to produce more defense cells to fight infectious agents, like viruses and bacteria.

Babies over 6 months of age can continue to breastfeed and should be introduced to a diverse, healthy diet that is made-up of the foods mentioned above. These foods will stimulate the body‘s natural defense mechanisms. 

It is also important to ensure all vaccine are up-to-date, and to consider other measures like avoiding smoking near the baby and avoiding medications that are not prescribed. 

Immunity-boosting recipes 

Consuming natural fruit juices, teas and smoothies prepared with fruits and vegetables are a great way to boost immunity. Some recipes include: 

1. Beet and carrot juice 


  • 2 slice of raw beets 
  • Half a raw carrot
  • 1 orange, with pulp
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
  • Half a cup of water

How to prepare

Mix all ingredients in a blender and drink, preferably without straining and without sweetener. 

2. Banana walnut smoothie  


  • 1 frozen banana 
  • 1 slice of papaya 
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao
  • 1 yogurt container (no-sugar added, Greek yogurt)
  • 1 handful of walnuts
  • 1 Brazilian nut
  • Half a tablespoon of honey 

How to prepare

Mix all ingredients in a blender and drink. 

3. Echinacea tea


  • 1 teaspoon of echinacea leaves or roots
  • 1 cup of boiling water 

How to prepare 

Place the echinacea in the cup of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes, then strain and drink twice a day. 

What causes low immunity

Some factors that are associated with a weakened immune system include an unhealthy diet, poor hygiene habits, not vaccinating as recommended, and smoking. It is also normal to have a weaker immune system when pregnant, as this is one of the body‘s ways of ensuring that the growing fetus is not rejected. Patients undergoing cancer treatment and patients diagnosed with HIV will also have a weaker immune system. 

People with a chronic disease, like lupus, or who are malnourished will also have a compromised immune system and will tend to get sicker much more frequently. Using certain medications, like corticosteroids or immunosuppressants or prolonged use of anti-inflammatories can also weaken the body’s natural immunity. 

How to know if your immune system is weak

The immune system is made-up of white blood cells which are responsible for producing antibodies anytime the body is exposed to a strange microorganism, like a virus or bacteria. There are other parts of our body not directly associated with the immune system that also protect us, like our skin and even our stomach acid (which neutralizes many microorganisms in the food we eat and destroys them before the proliferate in the body.)  

A weak immune system is characterized by an increased frequency of illnesses. People with a weak immune system will often have colds, flus, and other viral infections, like herpes, very frequently. In these cases, it is possible that the body is not producing defense cells efficiently, which stimulates the development of illnesses. In addition to always being sick, people with weaker immune systems will often have symptoms like fatigue and fevers, and illnesses will tend to get worse very easily (like a cold that develops into a lung infection, for example).