5 Foods that Boost the Immune System | Muse Health

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One thing that everyone wants to avoid is getting sick. From missing time at work to feeling weak, sickness is an indication of pathogens affecting your immune system. Defined as a network of biological processes that protect organisms from disease and infection, a healthy immune system is vital to a person’s well-being. Through contact with the environment, other people, and natural processes, the immune system can weaken.

Luckily, there are ways to improve immune response and overall functionality. One of the best ways to implement that change is by consuming foods high in antioxidants and vitamins. With a clean diet, you can witness fewer occurrences of the common cold and improved wellness.

Although there are several foods that have health benefits, there are five that are good sources of vitamins needed to keep the immune system functioning at an optimal level.

Healthy female flexing bicep muscle

How to improve the immune system

While the immune system does a remarkable job of defending the body from infection, there are times when its defenses are penetrated. One thing that many people forget is that the immune system is not just a single thing. It is an entire system that reacts to different stimuli.

Although simple, the first thing a person can do to improve their immune system is to live a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular exercise, not smoking, getting adequate sleep, eating foods that avoid cholesterol and saturated fats, and maintaining proper hand hygiene. Specifically during the pandemic, hand hygiene has become one of the most important aspects of keeping the body healthy.

Another important factor that is not often accounted for is stress. Stress can cause several of the aforementioned lifestyle requirements to fall out of sync. For example, high-stress levels have a direct impact on the amount of quality sleep a person gets. Without proper sleep, the body is not able to recharge itself, leaving it weak and defenseless.

To improve immune system functionality, you have to find the right balance. An important aspect of that balance is what you feed your body.

Close up of acai berry, watermelon, citrus fruits, broccoli and garlic

Immune boosting foods

The saying “you are what you eat” is not a hyperbole. While it may be tempting to go directly to the snack food aisle when grocery shopping, there are certain foods that help you fight against sickness. These super foods can boost your immune system, leading to a healthier life.

Acai Berry

Native to the Amazon region, Acai Berries have grown in popularity over the years due to health benefits. Acai Berry has a nutritional profile, unlike most fruits. Being higher in fats but very low in sugar, acai is one of the best sources of antioxidants a person can feed their body. Antioxidants are important because they help negate the harmful effects of free radicals. When free radicals are left to their own devices, it causes cell damage, leading to diseases like diabetes or cancer.

A powerful antioxidant like acai berry helps mitigate those risks. Acai berry has more antioxidants in its profile than other popular fruits like blueberries and cranberries. Due to this fact, acai berry has also become a tool for boosting brain function. This happens because the antioxidants inside of the fruit have an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation and lack of proper oxidation have a direct impact on memory and learning.


As the name suggests, watermelon is a fruit that is comprised of over 90% water. Due to its composition, watermelon is a great way to stay hydrated. Lack of hydration may not seem important but when you consider that the human body is composed of over 60% water, lacking proper hydration can affect how a person feels and how often they get sick.  

Watermelon is also very low in calories making it a perfect snack for those who are looking for healthy alternatives. One cup of watermelon contains several vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B1.

Watermelon is also high in an antioxidant called lycopene. This antioxidant gives fruits and vegetables like red bell peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon its rich color.

Citrus Fruits

When a person gets sick, the first thing they reach for vitamin C. It’s no coincidence that it has become a gold standard because this vitamin helps to improve immune system functionality. Vitamin C is seen as an element that can improve white blood cell count. White blood cells are crucial when fighting any kind of infection or foreign agent.  

The great thing about citrus fruits is that they are easy to find in any supermarket. Some of the most popular are grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, limes, lemons, and clementines.  

Grapefruit, in particular, has also been linked to blood pressure regulation. Blood pressure regulation is very important as it can prevent heart disease.


Immune system health would not be complete without mentioning veggies. Like leafy greens, broccoli is known for its incredible nutrient profile. Loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin E, selenium, and phosphorus, it helps keep the body working optimally.  

Gut health is an important aspect of immune system functionality. Containing ample fiber, broccoli is a great food to add to your diet. Combined with a probiotic, your gut will feel less heavy, and passing waste through the body becomes more regular.


Sometimes viewed as more of a garnish than a food, garlic is incredibly potent. One of the best food sources, garlic has many benefits to immune function. For people with high cholesterol, studies have shown that garlic is linked with reductions in levels. There are two kinds of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is considered “bad” while HDL is considered “good”. Garlic has shown to reduce LDL while keeping the levels of HDL untouched.

Something else that garlic can do is detoxify the body of metals. Without even knowing it, many of us consume metals that can cause bodily damage. Studies have shown that garlic can be used as an extractor of metals. This leaves the body much better off.

Small Changes Have Big Results

Although it seems obvious, the foods you eat have a major impact on overall health. By incorporating small changes to your diet, improvements in immune system functionality will follow. Making a conscious choice to eat the five foods listed, can help keep you safe and healthy.