Keeping your immune system healthy is crucial to living a long and happy life. Our immune system is responsible for detecting and fighting against harmful pathogens. It can identify bacteria and parasites when functioning correctly, differentiating them from our body’s healthy tissue

Certain vitamins such as Vitamin C, B6, and E can help strengthen immunity operate at maximum efficiency. Luckily these vitamins are found in foods that you probably already have in your kitchen. If the best foods to boost your immune system aren’t currently in your pantry, take note for the next time you visit the grocery store!

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Vitamin C

Arguably the most important vitamin for your body, vitamin C is essential in keeping the body healthy. Just a lack of vitamin C could make you prone to getting sick. As it is the most important, it is also the most common of the bunch. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:

  • oranges 
  • grapefruits 
  • tangerines
  • strawberries 
  • bell peppers 
  • spinach
  • kale 
  • broccoli 

Daily intake of vitamin C is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it.

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Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is vital for the biochemical reactions that occur within our immune system. Foods that are rich in vitamin B6 include a variety of meats and other protein sources. Vitamin B6 is also beneficial for workout recovery. Foods that are high in vitamin B6 are:

  • Chicken
  • Coldwater fish (cod, salmon, tuna, etc.)
  • Eggs

B6 is found in vegetables and chickpeas as well.

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can increase our immuno-efficiency. This vitamin is less likely to be found in everyday items, but it still is necessary to keep our immune system running as it should. Foods rich in vitamin E include:

  • Garden asparagus
  • Nuts (peanuts, cashews)
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Avocado

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The role of our diet

Of course, none of this means anything if we do not keep a healthy eating habit. A good rule of thumb is to try and make meals as “colorful” as possible. That means trying new combinations, new recipes, whatever the case may be, to ensure you eat a wide variety of foods.  If your palette is colorful, it’s likely you’re consuming at least some of the best foods to boost your immune system.  The Cleveland Clinic sat down with registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, and asked how to make the most of our meals.

Try to eat a wide variety of foods, and aim to eat fruit and vegetables from every color of the rainbow,” Zumpano says. “Your plate will be more enticing to look at, and you will ensure that you’re getting as many health-boosting vitamins and nutrients as possible.

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