Can Food Boost The Immune System?

Since Covid-19 came into our lives, focus on the immune system and suggestions regarding immune- boosting food has been rife. Tess Warnes, BSc RD, Registered Dietitian at independent food procurement experts allmanhall, provides advice…

Important nutrients for effective immune function are:

Copper – bread, fortified breakfast cereals, meat, fish, beans, pulses, seeds, and nuts
Folate – bread, fortified breakfast cereals, citrus fruits, beans pulses
Iron – fortified breakfast cereals, wholegrains, meat, pulses, green leafy veg, nuts, eggs, dried fruit
Selenium – bread, nuts, seeds, seafood
Zinc – fortified breakfast cereals, meat, fish, whole- grains, beans, nuts
Vitamin A – milk, eggs, orange coloured fruit and veg
Vitamin B6 – meat, fish, milk, cheese, seeds, eggs, wholegrains
Vitamin B12, – eggs, milk, cheese, meat. Fish marmite, fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin C – fruit and vegetables, potatoes
Vitamin D – fortified breakfast cereals, eggs, oily fish

No one food is recommended over another – balance is key. The immuno-protection of many of these nutrients is based on their antioxidant capacity which is lost if consumed in excess.

Beneficial bacteria (probiotic bacteria) ensure good health and prevent diseases. To support good gut health, ensure residents eat a wide range of foods, high fibre foods and live foods.

In case of specific challenges in meeting the dietary requirements, supplements can be used to add nutrients to a resident’s diet.

Unfortunately, the complexity of the immune system means that it cannot be modified acutely by a specific nutritional intervention. Rather, ensuring residents adhere to a healthy diet is important and may even delay the process of immunosenescence (the natural gradual deterioration of the immune system as people age). There is no convincing evidence that any food or dietary pattern can ‘boost’ the immune system and prevent or treat Covid-19.

Find out more at

Sign up for all the latest news from The Carer!

Sign up to receive the latest issues, along with highlights of the latest sector news and more from The Carer, delivered directly to your inbox twice a week!