Immune Boosting Nutrients

Immune boosting foods

Your immune system is like that friend you have that is just there, hanging out, chilling and being cool until someone threatens you — then they are ready to attack. Unless they are inebriated, then there is no telling what they will do, or when. That would be like an autoimmune disease/disorder.
I will admit, I am not the best with analogies.
Also, that pretty much describes me as a friend.

foods to help build immune system

In all seriousness, healthy immune systems are something that some people take for granted. When it functions properly, our immune system seeks out threats such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites and triggers an immune response to fight off the invaders and destroy them.

Keeping your immune system running at tip-top shape is important to make sure that your body is ready and in fighting shape!
I’ve put together a shortlist of some of the most important nutrients to help keep your immune system boosted and running optimally. I’ve added some examples of foods that are good sources of these nutrients.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important nutrient needed for tissue and bone growth and repair. Unfortunately, the human body doesn’t create any. Studies have shown that Vitamin C can help boost the immune system and ward off viruses such as the common cold. It is best to get this vitamin from your foods. Fruits and vegetables are usually the best sources. Vitamin C is also essential for the body to be able to absorb Iron.
Light and heat can destroy Vitamin C in foods, so consuming fresh and uncooked sources is best.

Food Sources of Vitamin C

  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Leafy Greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed in the body for calcium and phosphorous absorption and regulation. Sun exposure is one of the easiest, efficient, and most reliable ways to get this vitamin. By exposing the hands, arms, legs, and face to sunlight two or three times a week for about a quarter of the time that it would take for you to get a sunburn will allow the skin enough time to produce Vitamin D. There is not a definite set amount of time (eg 17 minutes) as it will vary according to age, skin type, location, time of year and time of day. Older people have been found to have less receptors for Vitamin D in their skin. Darker skin tends to absorb less Vitamin D due to evolutionary traits. Being low in Vitamin D can compromise the immune system and also cause fatigue.
Vitamin D deficiency is really common. It has been suggested that Canadians are at risk for year round deficiency. Anyone living in northern latitudes or are darker skin may be deficient and it may be worth having your physician test your Vitamin D levels.

Natural and Food Sources of Vitamin D

  • Sun – with caution
  • Fatty fish
  • Egg yolk
  • Liver
  • Cheese
  • Vitamin D Fortified foods


Zinc in an essential trace mineral element. The body only needs a small amount of it, and it doesn’t store it. Zinc has shown to be effective against viruses. It usually lessens the symptoms of the common cold. Zinc helps the body activate white blood cells and is needed for wound healing.

Food Sources of Zinc

  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs


Selenium, a mineral found in the soil, water and some foods. It is needed in body to ensure that many of the bodily processes are carried out correctly. Selenium increases the actions of antioxidants in the body and helps to protect the cells. Most of the selenium that we get is from food, and it vary based on where the food originates. A selenium deficiency can result in an under active thyroid and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Walnuts

The best way to stay healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet and to incorporate some exercise for musculoskeletal and cardio health.
The key is to try and maintain good health, not just try to fix things once you’re sick. If you can’t get all of your nutrients from food, talk to your i-health care provider about adding in a vitamin or a multi-vitamin.

Don’t forget about sleep!!
Not just any sleep, but a good restorative sleep with help your body be in the right condition to help fight off invaders like viruses and bacteria.
Stress will also take a toll on your immune system too. Check out my post for five of the best foods that can help improve and boost your mood.

Who am I to offer advice?
I am a certified NESTA Lifestyle and Weigh Management Nutritional Specialist. I have also worked in the natural health and supplement industry for over a decade. All of my free time was spent reading and learning about nutrition in hopes of keeping myself, family, and customers as healthy as possible.
Still, all of this is simply advice and presented for educational purposes. I am simply sharing information. Talk to your physician or medical professional before making any changes or starting a new program or supplement. I am not here to diagnose. prevent, or treat any disease or illness. I am simply offering advice from a nutritional standpoint.

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Mood Boosting Foods

mood boosting food

Fatty Fish – Omega-3

Containing Omega-3 essential fatty acids, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel – even sardines – provide your brain with this nutrient that your body does not produce. Our brains are made up of mostly fat, so it’s important to consume Omega-3 through your diet. Consumption of Omega-3 has been linked with lower levels of depression. It is also very good for your joints, eyes, hair, skin, and nails.
Simply add fish to your meals 3-5 days a week.

Not a fish eater?
Me neither.
You can find some high quality supplements. You can also purchase algae based Omega-3 if you chose not to consume fish. Things I look for is the coating to help with fishy burps. Enteric coatings help to ensure that the pill doesn’t doesn’t dissolve until it’s passed through the stomach. Another thing to be aware of, the dosage. Sure you can find a mega bottle of 1000mg of “Fish Oil” at your local super centre, but if you look closely, you generally get minute amounts of Omega-3. LOOK at the make up of your fish oil. Generally, it’s only a very low amount of DHA and EPA.

You can get Omega-3 from nuts and seeds as well,
Often the amount of DHA and EPA are much lower than with fish or a supplement. Nuts also have Omega-6 which in excess, can cause inflammation.

food boost mood

Additional thoughts on fish consumption.
Try to make sure that your fish, or fish oil is free from mercury and sustainably caught.

Complex Carbohydrates

Full of fibre, complex carbs will help to stabilize blood sugar and help to keep moods and energy levels consistent throughout the day. Most complex carbs are a source of B vitamins which can help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters.
Bonus: fibre helps fill you up so you’re less likely to overeat chips and ice cream.

  • Fibre rich fruits such as apples, berries and bananas
  • Whole grains
  • Fibre rich veggies such as broccoli, leafy greens and carrots
  • Beans and other lentils

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in many mood boosting compounds including flavonoids, caffeine, theobromine, N-acylethanolamine.
Look for 70% or more cocoa content and watch out for added sugars.
It’s best to enjoy 1-2 small squares per day.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi contains probiotics, the good bacteria, that your body needs. Up to 90% of your serotonin is made in your digestive tract so it is important to keep to keep your gut healthy. Look for sugar free versions that you can flavour yourself with berries, cinnamon, vanilla and honey.


Caffeine acts as a mild anti-depressant by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, mood boosting neurotransmitters. Caffeine increases alertness and attention by preventing adenosine from attaching to brain receptors that promote tiredness. Decaf coffee has also been shown to increase mood, possibly due to the presence of antioxidants.
Enjoy 1-2 cups a day, but limit consumption in the afternoon and evening so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

mood booster coffee caffeine

On the flip side . . . too much caffeine can cause restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness. So don’t over do the coffee.

Who am I to offer advice?
I am a certified NESTA Lifestyle and Weigh Management Specialist.
I have also worked in the natural health and supplement industry for over a decade. Still, all of this is simply advice. I am sharing information. Talk to your physician or medical professional before making any changes or starting a new program or supplement. I am not here to diagnose. prevent, or treat any disease or illness. I am simply offering advice from a nutritional standpoint.

If your brain doesn’t make the chemicals it needs — store bought is fine!

Please don’t be afraid to talk to someone or get help.
There’s no shame in taking medication to help with moods.
And if one doesn’t work, talk to your medical professional.
There are so many options.
Click here for a list of worldwide helplines

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