Building Immunity: The Importance of What We Eat

Lemon, lime, ginger, turmeric juice, with cayenne and a spoonful of maple syrup or honey makes for a great immune boosting el

These top rated foods are packed with nutrients that can boost your immunity and help you if you get sick.  Stick with the whole foods and steer away from convenience foods that boast having these foods included.  The truth is that nature has designed these food exactly as they are meant to be, with a balance of constituents which create homeostasis.


1. Whole Citrus Fruit…packed with vitamin C, these are superfoods!  Vitamin C not only increases your white blood cells, it is an antioxidant which helps rid the body of free-radicals.  (Free radicals can damage cells and lead to tumor formation.)

Popular citrus fruits include:

Be aware that, if you have a cold or allergies, drinking orange juice (including tangerine, clementines, etc.) can increase mucous production.  Remember, mucous is a reaction of your immune system, but too much can lead to bacterial infections of the sinuses.


2. Red and Orange Bell Peppers…another excellent source of Vitamin C, ounce for ounce, more than oranges!  They are also rich in beta carotene for healthy skin and bright eyes.


3. Broccoli…packed with Vitamins A, C, E…the antioxidant power team!  Broccoli has long been seen as a superfood in the fight against cancer, but it is also an excellent way to build immunity and increase fiber to keep your gut happy.  Lightly steam for the best access to all the nutrients broccoli has to offer.


4. Garlic…what a powerhouse!  Fights infections, helps lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries. (  With a heavy concentration of allicin (a sulfur-containing compound), garlic will help ward off disease…and vampires. ;-). For helpful info on maintaining the potency of your garlic, check out this link:


5. Ginger…helps to decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea.  Ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent animal research.  (


6. Spinach… it's rich in vitamin C. It's also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.  Light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.


7. Fermented Foods…loaded with "live and active cultures such as lactobacillus acidophilus and lactobacillus bifidus.  These “good bacteria” populate our gut and help fight the “bad bacteria” as well as improve digestion.  Some studies have shown that these cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases and reduce viral infections.

Here are some top fermented foods:


8. Almonds…are chock full of Vitamin E.  Like Vitamins A and C, Vitamin E is a great immune builder and the third in the vitamin trifecta of antioxidants.  Vitamin E is fat soluble which means it requires fat to be absorbed by the body.  Almonds have plenty of healthy fats, which make them the perfect vehicle for delivering Vitamin E.  A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.


9. Turmeric…this bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating all types of arthritis. Also, curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.


10. Green tea…packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green tea really shines with its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.

Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.


11. Papaya…has a whopping 224 percent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C in a single papaya. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects.  Papayas have decent amounts of potassium, B vitamins, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health.


12. Kiwi…naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.


13. Poultry…chicken and turkey, are high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B-6.

Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. It’s also vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.  Got the sniffles? Get your free-range, antibiotic-free chicken soup on!


14. Sunflower seeds…full of nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. They’re also incredibly high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. As we mentioned, Vitamin E is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function. 


15. Avocados…another Vitamin E rich food.  Vitamin E often takes a back seat to all the Vitamin C hype, but it is an equally important building block in our wall of immunity.  Avocados are also flush with healthy fats that help the bioavailability of Vitamin E.  Those fats are also essential for cellular regeneration and brain function.


16. Dark Leafy Greens…great sources of Vitamins A, C, E and K.  As we now know, A, C, E are natural antioxidants that protect our cells.  They are our ACE in the hole.  But did you know that Vitamin K is another crucial player in our health?  Vitamin K is actually a group of fat soluble vitamins that play a vital role in blood clotting, bone metabolism and regulation blood calcium levels.  As if all that wasn’t enough, dark leafy greens are rich in chlorophyll and fiber which aide in detoxifying our bodies.  Remember, eat green to stay clean!


17. Shellfish…some types of shellfish are packed with zinc.  Zinc doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies need it so that our immune cells can function as intended.  As many of you may know, zinc has been shown to reduce the duration of colds and flu. 

Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include:

Keep in mind that you don’t want to have more than the daily recommended amount of zinc in your diet. For adult men, it’s 11 milligrams (mg), and for women, it’s 8 mg. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function.


So, add some of these foods to your daily regime, drink your 64-100 ounces of filtered water, get 7 to 9 hours of good sleep, move your body daily, breath deeply and keep your mind focused on the the life and feelings you desire.  Until next time…Bon Appetite!

Sharon Shuppert, L.Ac. Owner of The Phoenix & Dragon Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

You Might Also Enjoy...

Thriving In These Times

We have all spent the last year doing a lot of coping. With the advent of spring, I feel a renewed sense of new beginnings and have decided to do more than "stay alive", I've decided to thrive.

Chinese Herbal Medicine and COVID-19 Part III

Many who fall ill cannot get tested, or, if they do manage to get a test, wait days for results. We’re told to stay home and self quarantine. Yet there is so much more we can do to treat ourselves. We can take Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Herbal Medicine and COVID-19 Part II

The first step to dealing with Covid-19 is the Prevention Phase. Traditional Chinese Medicine, along with recommendations from the CDC, is a very effective way to keep you and your family healthy during this pandemic.

Chinese Herbal Medicine and COVID-19 Part I

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we are staying home, washing hands, sanitizing everything in site and taking our vitamins. What else can we do? Let’s take a look at how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can aide in the battle.

Building Immunity: The Importance of Sleep

Following the 6 Essentials helps us to build optimal immunity. As one of the 6 Essentials, sleep is our time for the body to restore and regenerate. When we sleep is as important as how much we sleep.