The Best Superfoods to Increase Immunity

Reviewed By Experts

The Best Superfoods to Increase Immunity 1

Immunity as a concept is vast. The body’s ability to prevent invasion of infection, viruses, and other diseases is immunity. In Ayurveda, immunity is defined as the state of protection from infectious disease. We are exposed to viruses on an everyday basis. One such is COVID-19, which has till now claimed the lives of 2.95 million people worldwide. Coronavirus has made the world realise why having a strong immune system is crucial.

How does the immune system work?

Several interdependent cells are part of our immune system. These cells can fight infections and destroy infection-causing agents. The immune system cells wait for signals from the T helper subset to act against infection-causing germs. Some individuals are gifted with special kinds of genes that equip them with a strong immune system. But all are not that lucky. People who do not have a genetically strong immune system need to increase their immune system’s strength by eating nutritious food, leading an active lifestyle, getting plenty of sun exposure, staying stress-free, and getting enough rest. [1]

In this article, we will learn about immunity and about the various foods to build immunity.

Essential nutrients to improve immunity power [3]

A well-balanced diet with immunity-boosting nutrients can strengthen your immune system. Some of the essential antioxidants and nutrients in food with amazing immune-strengthening properties are listed below: 

  1. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant in green leafy veggies, carrots, and potatoes. It reduces inflammation and boosts immune function by incrementing disease-fighting cells.
  2. Zinc boosts the formation of white blood cells in the body, which form a protective shield against viruses and other diseases. The mineral is intact in nuts, sesame seeds, beans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds.
  3. Vitamin D reduces the possibilities of viral infections such as respiratory tract infections, a symptom of COVID-19. It also reduces the risk of tuberculosis, hepatitis, and cardiovascular disease. It can be found in cereals, plant-based milk, and supplements.
  4. Vitamin C and E are rich in antioxidants and support the body’s natural immune response. Vitamin C is most available in red bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, lemons, mangoes, and broccoli. Sources of vitamin E include nuts, spinach, seeds, and broccoli.
  5. Iron helps you carry oxygen to the cells; thus, it plays a major role in building a strong immune system. The sources of iron include beans, broccoli, eggs, tofu, paneer, and dried fruits such as apricots and berries.

Superfoods to build immune system

1. Indian Gooseberry (Amla)

Ayurveda recommends the use of this fruit to improve the immune system. This magical fruit can balance the entire body, including the immune system. This fruit is remarkably high in vitamin C and contains plenty of tannins and beneficial polyphenols. All these attributes make Amla an excellent immunity booster. [1]

2. Garlic (Lahsun)

Garlic is a common Indian spice and a member of the Allium family. The organosulphur compounds in garlic can prevent the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Consumption of garlic can increase the number of lymphocytes and macrophages, that’s giving you a better defense against harmful microbes. [1]

3. Turmeric (Haldi)

This spice is an indispensable ingredient in Indian curries. It contains an active compound, curcumin, which can protect your body’s cells against the damage caused by free radicals. This makes turmeric an amazing immune system booster. [1]

4. Ginger (Adrak)

This is another aromatic spice with various culinary and medicinal uses. Due to its antioxidant properties, ginger can positively impact the functioning of the immune system. [1]

5. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are one of the best superfoods for the immune system. Ample amounts of vitamin C in citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, mosambi, and limes can strengthen your immune system remarkably. [9]

6. Mushrooms

Consumption of mushrooms can give you strong immunity power. Studies show that mushrooms can increase macrophage activity, thereby strengthening the immune system. [4]

7. Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Holy basil is often used as a flavoring herb in many culinary preparations. But do you also know that holy basil is one of the Ayurvedic superfoods for boosting immunity? Yes, holy basil has a remarkable immunomodulatory effect. The chemical composition of this herb makes it an elixir for your immune system. [1]

8. Green leafy vegetables 

Green leafy veggies are one of the superfoods to build the immune system. The healthiest green leafy vegetables include spinach, broccoli, and fenugreek greens. Loads of essential vitamins and antioxidants in these vegetables can enhance the power of your immune system. [10]

9. Curd (Dahi)

Curd is rich in probiotics. This implies that curd has live bacteria, which can improve your gut health. Consumption of curd supports the cleansing of the gut by eliminating toxins or ama from your system. Removal of toxins can help your immune system function properly. Also, the vitamin D in curd enhances the functioning of your immune system. [6]

10. Nuts 

Vitamin E-rich nuts like walnuts and almonds can positively impact your immune system. These nuts also come with anti-inflammatory properties, making it easy for your immune system to function hassle-free. [8]

11. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are packed with the vital vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that fuels your immune system. Consumption of these seeds regulates and maintains the functioning of your immune system. [7]

12. Ghee

Ghee is a kind of clarified butter that can give a big boost to your immune system due to its high content of essential fatty acids and essential fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, K & E. [5]

Additional tips to boost immunity [2]

You can do many other things besides eating healthy to improve your immune system. Here are some more tips for you:

Stay hydrated

One of the most critical aspects of building strong immunity is keeping the body hydrated, so this is a reminder for you to sip some water right now and have it throughout the day.

Get sufficient sleep

Sleep is an aspect of immunity that must be adhered to. In your sleep, you heal and grow, which is the most crucial part of the body. So, sleep for 7-9 hours daily, on average.

Stay physically active

A sedentary lifestyle is harmful to your body in various ways. If you follow a sedentary lifestyle and are not physically active, you may develop metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, and more. Also, your digestive fire or Agni may weaken, eventually leading to a weak immune system. So, it is best to do some exercises regularly or practice yoga.

Relax yourself

Stress is one of the main culprits behind a weak immune system. So, do not let stress destroy your health. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation to get rid of stress and anxiety.

Give up smoking and alcoholism.

If you are in the habit of smoking and drinking alcohol, you need to give up those bad habits. These bad lifestyle habits can weaken your immune system.


1. What powers our immune system?

The white blood cells made in our bone marrow play a pivotal role in empowering our immune system. These cells move throughout the body to spot and eliminate dangerous invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing microbes.

2. Can essential oils strengthen immunity?

Yes, certain essential oils can generate an anti-inflammatory response in your body through their aroma. Peppermint oil is one such example. The strong minty aroma of the peppermint oil can stimulate your immune system.

3. What are the causes of a poor immune system?

The leading causes of a poor immune system are:
• Malnutrition
• Smoking
• Alcoholism
• Infections like measles, flu, and mononucleosis

4. What are the signs and symptoms of immunodeficiency?

If you fall sick frequently with infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infection, sinus infection, or meningitis, you probably suffer from immunodeficiency. Skin disorders and blood disorders also indicate immunodeficiency.

5. Can Satvik Bhojan improve immunity?

Yes, Satvik Bhojan can be a great immunity booster. These foods come with rajasic properties and can balance the Doshas and improve the energies within the body. Therefore, these foods are ideal for strengthening the immune system.


It is claimed that immunity helps create antibodies against infectious diseases like the novel coronavirus. All types of minerals and vitamins should be balanced to build a strong immune system. Consuming foods full of essential minerals and vitamins can help balance the three Doshas and boost your immune system. With the support of the Ayurvedic superfoods mentioned above, you can build a strong defense against diseases and lead a hale and hearty life.


This article has been written from a health and wellness perspective and is not a substitute for medical advice.


  1. Ayurveda for improving Immune system
  2. Six Tips to Enhance Immunity
  3. Exploring the Immune-Boosting Functions of Vitamins and Minerals as Nutritional Food Bioactive Compounds: A Comprehensive Review
  4. Therapeutic potential of mushrooms
  5. Ghee : Its Properties, Importance and Health Benefits
  6. Probiotics and immunity
  7. Foods Boosting the Immune System -Sunflower Seeds (Helianthus Annuus)
  8. Edible seeds and nuts in human diet for immunity development
  9. Effects of Citrus Fruit Juices and Their Bioactive Components on Inflammation and Immunity: A Narrative Review
  10. Nutrition, lifestyle, and immunity

Dr. Ashwini Konnur

Dr. Ashwini has 17 years of experience in Clinical Practice, Research & Education in the field of Ayurveda with competency in acute & chronic conditions & lifestyle diseases. She has also expertise in treating Female Infertility disorders, other Gynecological Problems & General disorders along with specialised focus in Ayurvedic detoxification therapies, Panchakarma & other Ayurvedic treatments


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