Immune Boosting Food to Help You Survive Pittsburgh’s Cold and Flu Season

A strong immune system is helpful to have for many reasons. You want your body to be in top shape and primed to fight off any potential illnesses, especially during cold and flu season. Cold and flu viruses are easily transmitted between people during this time, and maintaining our own health is one of the best ways to fight this. You don’t want to miss out on all the great things you can be doing with your time because you’re stuck in bed all day. And missing work is no fun when you’ll be spending your day off in bed wheezing. 

The best thing you can do for your body is to regularly take in the nutrients it needs to fend off viruses. And thankfully, that isn’t too difficult to do when you’re equipped with the right information. There are some key foods that are particularly helpful for your immune system. You can enjoy them in many different forms. You’ll likely want to up your intake of these foods for the best results, and if you don’t yet eat these foods, introduce them to your diet! You’ll be overall healthier which will up your immunity to pesky cold and flu viruses. We’ve compiled a list of immune boosting foods that will help you survive this sickly season with your health intact!


Peeled oranges in a bowl surrounded by unpeeled oranges.
These juicy oranges are such a tasty way to give your body a boost. 

Oranges are a powerful source of vitamin C. Each orange contains over 100% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to prevent the common cold for people in sickness inducing environments. It can even help to lessen the severity of a cold. Vitamin C is also helpful for preventing cell damage, lowering the stress hormone cortisol, and lowering blood pressure. All of these combined factors make for a body primed to defend itself from illness. 


Turmeric has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Its medicinal properties are so strong, it can even boost the immune system of people with immune disorders. Studies over the past few years have shown curcumin, a component of turmeric, to be a potent agent for modulating T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells. Curcumin has been shown to enhance the body’s antibody response even in low doses. 


Garlic is made up of compounds that help the immune system fight off illnesses. Garlic contains allicin, a compound that takes effect when chewed. Allicin converts into other sulfur-containing compounds, which is what gives garlic its medicinal properties. These compounds have been proven to boost the immune response of certain white blood cells when they come in contact with viruses like the cold and flu. As well as working to prevent the cold and flu, garlic can also lessen the severity of cold and flu symptoms. Anyone who gets sick frequently will benefit from eating more garlic. 


A pile of blueberries.
These vibrant blueberries are a great addition to any smoothie. 

Blueberries contain flavonoids, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system and reduces damage to cells. People who consume flavonoids on a daily basis have been found to be overall less susceptible to illnesses like the cold and flu. Blueberries are also loaded with plenty of helpful vitamins. They contain vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber among other things. Consuming blueberries is a great way to stay in top physical shape. 


Tomatoes help your immune system by protecting your cells from damage. Tomatoes contain a substance called lycopene. It is what gives tomatoes their distinct red color and also keeps them from sustaining damage from the sun. It also protects our cells and helps to reduce inflammation. Tomatoes contain several vitamins aside from vitamin C. They also contain vitamin A and potassium. It is also the case that your body absorbs lycopene better when tomatoes are cooked, so make sure to optimize the level of nutrients you take in. 


Ginger is often used for healing purposes. It reduces nausea, which makes it a popular go-to for people who aren’t feeling well. Ginger doesn’t directly boost immune cells, but it does help reduce inflammation, which ultimately helps the cells function better. This effect takes place because of ginger’s antioxidant properties. When your body is in a healthy place, your cells have a lot more power to fight off the cold and flu viruses. 

Bell Peppers

A large yellow pepper dunked in clear water.
This yellow pepper will refresh your immune system. 

People often think of citrus fruits when they think of vitamin C sources, but a bell pepper actually contains even more vitamin C than an orange does. Since an orange already contains a full day’s supply of vitamin C, a single bell pepper is more than enough to support your immune cells in their fight! A bell pepper contains even more than the amount of vitamin C you need for the day. This underrated immunity booster would make a great addition to a healthier diet. 


Spinach is another food that is unexpectedly high in vitamin C. It is also packed with vitamin A, B, and K, and abundant in calcium and iron. If you eat spinach on the regular, additional supplements may not be necessary. It is a powerful food all on its own. 

You can enjoy these foods on their own or you can include them in smoothies and teas. There are plenty of shops that offer smoothies and foods that contain immune boosting ingredients so that healthy eating is convenient for you. Smoothies are a popular and delicious way for people to get all the nutrients they need. Some popular smoothie shops in Pittsburgh are Salud Juicery, Clean Juice, and The Pittsburgh Juice Company. You can find juices and smoothies that contain blueberries, turmeric, oranges, ginger, and so much more when you visit Salud and similar stores!

Cold and flu season in Pittsburgh can be rough, especially when you are unprepared for it. Making sure you take in the right nutrients can make it so this season goes by just as comfortably as all the others!