Time to dust off that apron, and get into the kitchen to support your immune system naturally with these science-backed, must-have ingredients. You may be surprised at which foods researchers discovered while digging in the pantry, (and fridge) contain nutrients that help your immune system. Scoop up all the juicy details on why these delicious ingredients are so good for immunity, below. Plus, we’ve included a handy shopping list to help you get all of these kitchen must-haves into your next grocery cart.

7 Kitchen Must-Haves to Support Your Immune System Naturally

Here are 7 science-based ingredients that are kitchen must-haves to anyone wanting to support their immune system naturally:

1. Veggie Broth

Soups are not only soothing during cold and flu season, but also hydrating. Evidence shows staying hydrated is important – perhaps not directly to the immune system, but it does impact mood, cognition, and improve headaches. You can boost your immune system by adding vegetables to your soup broth. Go on! Chop up some veggies and toss them in your broth. (Never fear – any fancy culinary skills involved as the shape doesn’t matter!) Adding vegetables is important as they are a nutritious source of many vitamins and minerals that support your immune system naturally. Scientists have found that people who consume diets high in vegetables have white blood cells with a lower inflammatory profile. In non-geeky terms, that means eating vegetables support a healthier immune system naturally, with less harmful inflammatory responses in the body, which can lead to chronic illnesses.

How does this happen?

One theory is that because vegetables are naturally rich in fiber they feed probiotics in the gut, helping support the microbiome, which in turn supports the immune system. (See Prebiotics and Probiotics for more details.)

2. Barley Pearls

For an even better immune-boosting vegetable soup, add some barley, suggests researchers. Barley is one of the best sources of fiber, beta-glucan, which is well-established among researchers as an effective immune system modulator. In other words, eating beta-glucan-containing foods is a great way to support your immune system naturally.

How does it help?

Beta-glucan helps out some large immune cells called macrophages. Macrophages sort of act like the heroic PacMans of your body, who helpfully gobble up unwanted things for you. Oats are another well-known source of beta-glucan, as are mushrooms.

3. Mushrooms

Another food worth stocking up on is mushrooms. These fungi are well-known for their beta-glucan content and immune-boosting benefits. Plus, their meaty texture, offers an excellent plant-based alternative to animal products in a soup, stew, or stir-fry. Researchers agree mushrooms are a kitchen-must have to support your immune system naturally.

4. Bone Broth

Grandma knew best when she handed you a steamy bowl of broth-based soup when you were feeling ill. There’s actually a bit of science behind why Grandma’s soup was a good choice to support your immune system naturally: a study by University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers showed chicken soup influenced neutrophils (a type of white blood cells, linked to immunity ) in a supportive way for those struggling with a cold or flu. Bone broth, either chicken or beef, contains minerals that play a role in the development of bone, skin and joints. That bowl of bone broth also contains collagen, another must-have for your immunity-fighting pantry

5. Vitamin C

After the soup, the next most popular food Grandma would serve when you felt ill was oranges. Rightfully so, as they are a source of vitamin C, a nutrient needed for the body to create strong immune reactions to invading viruses, and required for collagen synthesis.

6. Collagen

Recently, oral supplementation with collagen has been studied. To date, over a dozen studies have looked at collagen use, and evidence supports its potential to help with wound healing, as well as improvements in skin elasticity and hydration. In the gut collagen is broken down into amino acids: collagen contains a number of amino acids, including glycine. That might be helpful when it comes to cold and flu season, according to research. Scientists noted in a 2021 research paper, that glycine helps reinforce the extracellular matrix (the stuff between cells that make the structure stable), which in turn enhances the body’s ability to prevent and fight viruses. Of note, at the time of publication, there were no studies directly linking collagen ingestion with immune-boosting benefits.

7. Probiotics and Prebiotics

A healthy gut can beneficially influence the immune system. There’s a lot of cross-communication that happens between the microbes that live in your gut and your immune system that exists within the lining of your gut. Beneficial microbes in the gut, called probiotics, can communicate with the immune system in beneficial ways, supporting the immune system naturally. In addition, probiotics create an environment in the gut that is hostile to pathogens, further helping out the immune system. As for prebiotics, these are fibers that some probiotics use as fuel. Many whole foods, such as plants, contain prebiotics. Some quality probiotic supplements will contain added prebiotics to support the gut microbiome.

8. Turnip the Beets

Kick off your shoes in the kitchen and turn up the volume to your favorite tune, and get dancing while you’re cooking. Research shows exercising in smaller, less intense amounts improves the ability of the immune system to survey your body for pathogens and cancer cells. Plus, joyous movement can help lower stress hormones that suppress immune cell function. Happy dancing!

Stock Up Your Kitchen to Boost Immunity

Stock up on these science-backed foods and supplements to support your immune system naturally this cold and flu season. There’s no better time to ensure your kitchen has the ingredients you need to boost your immunity and be ready to fight whatever viruses you encounter.

Shopping List of Immune Boosting Kitchen Must-Haves

Sponsored by Organika, Authentically Canadian Health Products.

Written by Nutritional Author Allison Tannis MSC RHN, the host of Vista Magazine’s Natural Health Influencer Podcast. Follow her at @deliciouslygeeky.


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Higher intake of vegetables is linked to lower white blood cell profile and the effect is mediated
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Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7.

Combination of vegetable soup and glucan demonstrates synergistic effects on macrophage-mediated immune responses. Food Sci Biotechnol 2021 Apr; 30(4):585-588.

Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients 2017 Nov; 9(11):1211.

Immune modulation from five major mushrooms: application to integrative oncology. Integr Med (Encinitas) 2014 Feb; 13(1): 32-44.

Innate immunity induced by fungal beta-glucans via dectin-1 signaling pathway. Int J Med Mushrooms 2014; 16(1):1-16.

Oral collagen supplementation: a systemic review of dermatological applications. J Drugs Dermatol 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16.

The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. J Sports Health Sci 2019 May; 8(3):201-217.

Glycine can prevent and fight virus evasiveness by reinforcing the extracellular matrix. Journal of Functional Foods 2021 Jan, 76:104318.