Immunity Stimulating foods

Hello my holistic friends,

I think it is a good choice to start this new year by giving some boost to our immune system. This will help us be healthier and thus enjoy more fun- filled days with full energy and spark.

Our immune system is a complex interaction among cells of different parts of our body. These cells function by protecting our body from the foreign invaders. The big master,our brain along with the blood, the liver, the bone marrow,the lymph system, the spleen, the thymus gland, the skin and some endocrine glands all work together to make up our immune system.

We need an efficiently functioning immune system in order to maintain a good health and be able to fight off infections. The genetic makeup of a person is shown to greatly influence the immune system. Environmental factors also exercise a lot of influence on our immune system.

Diet is known to be one of the most important factors in building up our body’s immunity. Food contain different vitamins, minerals and many other important nutrients that help in stimulating the immune function which in turn increase the body’s resistance to various bacterial and viral infections as well as some type of cancerous growth that flourish or die according to the operation of the immune functions.

Lets look at some of the immunity stimulating foods:


  • One of the richest sources of antioxidant beta-carotene.
  • Shown to strengthen the immune defense against both viral & bacterial infections.
  • A study done by Dr. Ronald R. Watson, Ph.D., at the university of Arizona on 60 older men and women, average age of 56, showed that betacarotene increased the percentage of natural killer cells and activated lymphocytes and T-helper cells. This study showed that the more intake of beta-carotene, the greater increase in protective immune cells. According to this study, once the beta-carotene intake was stopped, the immune cells returned to the pre- experiment levels. Thus a diet high in carotene rich foods, such as carrots, could provide immune stimulating beta-carotene.
  • Carotene rich foods besides carrots are mangoes, papaya, orange, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin and curd-yoghurt.

Curd or Yoghurt

  • Curd or Yoghurt has been regarded as an age old fighter of disease as well as powerful protector against infections.
  • Studies have shown that the intake stimulates atleast two vital immunity components,1. natural killer cells, 2. gamma interferon. 
  •  The first large scale study of effects of yoghurt on immune system  done by Dr. George M. helpern M.D. of the University of California School of Medicine at Davis and his colleagues showed that people consuming 450 gms of yoghurt a day for upto four months had five times more infection- fighting gamma interferon in their blood then non-yoghurt eaters. This study involved 68 persons between age 20 to 40. Out of these 68 participants, one-third were not given yoghurt in diet, one-third got yoghurt with active live cultures and remaining got yoghurt that had been heated to destroy the live cultures. Only the yoghurt with live active cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus, which are standard in yoghurt worldwide, showed stimulated interferon.
  • Another year long study done by immunologist Dr. Halpern, involving 120 young and elderly adults showed that eating 170 gms of yoghurt a day significantly reduced the number of days the subjects had hay fever attacks especially from grass pollens. Yoghurt eaters were found to have few symptoms of hay fever and allergies and those eating yoghurt daily were shown to have  about 25 percent less cold in a year compared to non-yoghurt eaters.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Contain large number of compounds that can boost immunity including beta-carotene and vitamin C
  • A study done at a German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg compared the blood of male vegetarians with the meat eaters and found that the white cells of the vegetarians were twice as deadly against tumor cells then those of the meat eaters.
  • Vegetarians are also found to contain more levels of carotene in their blood which can greatly help strengthen the immune system.


  • Shown to greatly help stimulate immune functions.
  • Possess anti-bacterial and anti viral properties which are shown to be partly due to its ability to enhance immune functioning.
  •  In a study done by Benjamin H.S. Lau, M.D. of the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University, garlic intake found to stimulate the power of T-lymphocytes and macrophages, which play an important role in immune system functining.
  • Shown by another study that a small amount of 1.8 gms of garlic, about half a clove, can result in an increase in natural killer cell activity.


The healing power of Shiitake mushrooms has been long known by the practitioners of traditional chinese medicine.

In 1960, Dr. Kenneth Cochran, at the University of Michigan, isolated an anti viral substance called lentinin from the shiitake mushroom which showed a strong immunity boosting activity.

Zinc Rich foods

  • Foods high in zinc content are shown to enhance immune system functioning.
  • Zinc has been shown to help in the production of antibodies and T- cells as well as other white blood cell activity.
  • Experiments done on animals show that when they are deficient in zinc, they cannot efficiently fight off attacks by viruses, bacterias and parasites.
  • Adults and childrens deficient in zinc, have been shown to have more cold and respiratory tract infections.
  • Dr. Nicola Fabris, Ph.D., at The Italian National Center on Ageing in Ancona, gave 15 mg of zinc daily to a small group of people over the age of 65 and found that their blood levels of homones as well as T- cells increased to be equal to the levels seen in young people.
  • Main vegetarian food sources of zinc are milk, beans, whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds. 

An Immunity mix – recipe taken from the book “AN ANSWER TO CANCER is never giving it a chance to start by Sharma, Mishra and Meade.”


6 part turmeric

3 parts ground cumin

3 part ground coriander

6 parts ground fennel

1 part powdered dry ginger

1 part ground black pepper

1/4 part ground cinnamon

a. Mix the spices together and store in an airtight container in a cool place, away from sunlight.

b. Heat 1 tsp of spice mixture in 1 Tbsp of ghee until the mixture releases aroma. remove from heat immediately, so it won’t burn.

c. Put this spiced ghee on rice, vegetables or other foods (vegetables can be cooked with this spice mixture).

According to H. Sharma M.D., R. K. Mishra G.A.M.S. and J. G. Meade Ph.D., the authors of the book “An Answer To cancer”, taking this combination of spices regularly with each main meal of the day, may boost the immune system and enhance digestion(Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. 2002, pg 48).

Hopefully this will help all of  us include some of these foods in our daily diet and be healthier.

Have a healthy and fun filled 2010.


****The above information is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.****


1.Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. (2002). The Answer To Cancer. New York: Select books, Inc.

2.Bakhru, H.K. (2007). Healing through natural foods. Mumbai, India: Jaico publishing house.




One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Bhavna Patel on February 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Nice to know!


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