Can diet boost imunity?

With regards to COVID-19, many people have started to consume foods that they believe will help their immune systems. Citrus fruits, chicken soup, tea with honey, probiotics and prebiotics, and many others are examples of foods that are commonly associated with immune boosters. However, research has shown that the design of our immune system is rather complex and influenced by an ideal balance of many factors, not just diet, and especially not by any one specific food or nutrient. However, a balanced diet consisting of a range of vitamins and minerals, combined with healthy lifestyle factors like adequate sleep, exercise, and low stress, most effectively primes the body to fight infections and diseases, including COVID-19!

What is immunity?


Immunity refers to the system in the body that protects the body from harm. The immune system is a network of intricate stages and pathways in the body that protects us against these harmful microbes as well as certain diseases. It recognised foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites and took immediate action against them. There are two types of immunity in the human body: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity refers to the body's first line of defence from pathogens that try to enter the body, achieved through protective barriers such as skin, mucus that traps pathogens, stomach acid that destroys pathogens, and enzymes in our sweat and tears that help to create antibacterial compounds. While adaptive immunity is a system that learns to recognise a pathogen, When a foreign substance enters the body, our body creates antibodies that fight the foreign substance, and not only that, it also adapts by remembering the foreign substance so that if it enters again, these antibodies will be more efficient and quicker to destroy it.



Immune-boosting diet?


Well, frankly speaking, as mentioned above, no particular food can prevent an individual from getting disease. It is through variety, moderation, and a balanced diet that individuals may achieve a diet that will prevent them from getting various kinds of diseases, be they chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases or infectious diseases like COVID-19. However, certain dietary patterns may better prepare the body for microbial attacks and excess inflammation. Each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein. And all these nutrients can be found in a variety of foods.


Diets that are limited in variety and lower in nutrients, such as processed foods, can negatively affect a healthy immune system. Research also shows that a typical western diet that is high in refined sugar and red meat and low in fruits and vegetables can cause disturbances in healthy intestinal microorganisms, resulting in chronic inflammation of the gut and being associated with suppressed immune health.


Steps to support a healthy immune system


  1. Eat a balanced diet that is rich in whole fruits (guava, orange, and kiwi), vegetables (green leafy vegetables), lean, fresh protein, whole grains, and plenty of water.

  2. If a balanced diet is not readily accessible or your lifestyle does not promote healthy eating, consider taking a multivitamin containing nutrients sufficient for everyday use. Talk to your healthcare provider for advice on a suitable multivitamin for you. You may talk to us as well!

  3. Do not smoke (it will increase inflammation), and drink alcohol in moderation.

  4. Perform regular exercise (30–45 minutes of exercise on most days of the week is sufficient).

  5. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Try to keep a sleep schedule; waking up and going to bed around the same time each day will help with our body clock (circadian rhythm). Having a good circadian rhythm makes it easier for individuals to enter deep sleep (restful sleep).

  6. Manage stress. This is easier said than done, but try to find some healthy strategies for managing your stress. These can be exercise, meditation, journaling, or talking to a trusted friend. Another tip is to practise regular conscious breathing when feelings of stress, overwhelm, or anxiety arise.

  7. Wash hands throughout the day, especially after touching surfaces, when coming in from the outdoors, before and after preparing food, after using the toilet, and after coughing or blowing your nose.

  8. Lastly, practise social distance and wear a mask when you are outside.




  1. Harvard Health. Nutrition and Immunity.    (Accessed on Feb 9, 2021)
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Health essentials. 3 Vitamins that are best for boosting your immunity. (Accessed on Feb 9, 2021).
  3. 9 Ways to boost your body’s natural defences.