Healthier Plate

Immune-Boosting Foods to Fuel Your Holidays

Dec 21, 2018

By Renell Cronk, RDN, LD

Cold and flu season is in full swing and with the holidays right around the corner, this is no time to be sick! So, give yourself a fighting chance by taking preventative measures where you can. There are common things you are probably already aware of, like getting a flu shot, getting plenty of rest, washing your hands, and so on. Something you might not have thought about: using the power of food to give your body another layer of protection.


Try these 7 immune boosting foods to add that additional layer of protection and keep your holidays cheery!


Bone Broth — Bone broth from beef, chicken, fish, lamb, etc., can support the immune system. Bone broth contains collagen, proline, glutamine and arginine which support a healthy gut. Did you know that approximately 75% of your immune system lies in your gut? This means that supporting your gut leads to a stronger immune system. See recipe below to make your own bone broth.


Elderberry — Elderberries contain anthocyanidins which research shows helps to stimulate the immune system.  Not only can elderberry support the immune system, it has also been proven to shorten the duration of a cold/flu if taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms. Many forms of elderberry products are available for purchase such as syrup, gummies, extract, pills, drops or dried form.


Fermented foods — Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are a great source of probiotics. These healthy bacteria have been shown to support and advance the immune system in several ways, one of which is supporting a healthy digestive tract. Fermented foods can be made at home or found in a variety of forms at the store. Note when purchasing at the store to always check the label to make sure it says “contains live culture or probiotics” to reap the real benefits.


Garlic — Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which has antimicrobial powers.  An antimicrobial is something that can kill a microorganism or stop their growth. This power can help to prevent and shorten the duration of the common cold. You can find garlic in many forms but the best way to consume it is raw, chopped or pressed, and wait 10 minutes before intaking. This will activate the enzyme to help produce the compound allicin.


Licorice — Not the licorice you are probably thinking of, but licorice root has been shown to sooth throat and lungs by soothing the inflamed mucus membranes. Licorice root is most commonly used to support the upper respiratory health, but can be helpful in detoxification. Licorice root can be taken by mixing drops with water, as a syrup, in tea or in cough drop form.

Mushrooms — Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi Mushroom contain beta-glucans which work as immune stimulators and triterpenes that help protect against infection and viruses. Mushrooms can be consumed as a supplement, tincture, powder, tea or in soup.


Oregano — Oregano’s immune benefits come from its oil. The oil contains thymol and carvacrol which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. Oregano oil can be used topically, diffused or taken internally in softgels or capsule.


Chicken Bone Broth



  • 4 pounds chicken necks/feet/wings or carcass
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peel on, sliced in half lengthwise and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5–6 sprigs parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 18–20 cups cold water


Place all ingredients in a 10-quart capacity slow cooker. Add in water. Simmer for 24–48 hours, skimming fat occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill. Use within a week or freeze up to three months.


Bowden, J. (2017). 150 healthiest foods on earth: The surprising, unbiased truth about what you should eat and why. Place of publication not identified: Rockport.

Health and Fitness News, Recipes, Natural Remedies. (n.d.). Retrieved from

About the Author

Renell Cronk is a Registered Dietitian with PsyMed, Inc. She helps educate and prepare Nicholson Clinic patients before and after surgery with meal planning, recipe ideas, nutrition education and more. Nothing gives Renell a greater feeling of accomplishment and joy than helping individuals achieve their health, lifestyle and nutrition goals.