5 Back-to-School Immune-Boosting Foods

As the new school year begins, keeping your kids healthy in the midst of cold and flu season is always top of mind for parents. The immune-boosting foods in the five categories below contain key nutrients to support a strong immune system and overall health the natural way. Kid friendly, these foods are the perfect addition to your kids’ daily meals and snacks this season. 

Citrus Fruits

Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and tangerines are packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps reduce damage from free radicals and is highly concentrated in immune cells for immune-boosting support. Although vitamin C won’t prevent you from catching a cold, studies have shown that it can help reduce the length of cold symptoms. Other fruits that are a great source of vitamin C are mango, cantaloupe, kiwi, pineapple, and berries. 

Try this KIWI recipe:

immune-boosting orange mango smoothie
Mango Delight Smoothie 


Although citrus fruits are widely recognized as the go-to source for vitamin C, these three vegetables are highly concentrated with the immune-boosting antioxidant. One medium-sized bell pepper contains more than double the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Peppers are also a great source of beta carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A, an antioxidant that supports healthy skin and your immune system. 

Broccoli is high in vitamins A and C as well as beta carotene, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and the antioxidant glutathione. The best way to ensure your kids are benefiting from broccoli’s powerhouse of nutrients is to eat them raw or steamed. Spinach is also packed with vitamin C and beta carotene, which may increase the immune system’s infection-fighting ability. 

Try this KIWI recipe

rice salad
Rice Salad Stuffed Green Peppers

Nuts and Seeds

Another beneficial antioxidant is Vitamin E, which helps boost the immune system by widening blood vessels and reducing the risk of blood clots. Almonds are a good source of healthy fats, making them the perfect snack to help fat-soluble vitamin E be absorbed properly in the body. Sunflower seeds are also rich in vitamin E, which is known to support the regulation and maintenance of immune system function. 

Try this KIWI recipe:

Almond Berry Crisp
Almond Berry Crisp

Healthy Proteins

Poultry, like chicken and turkey, are lean protein sources that provide you with amino acids which help build antibodies to fight infection. Combine poultry in a dish with lots of vegetables, or boil it to make a soup, which releases gelatin and other nutrients to support a healthy gut and immune system. 

Try this KIWI recipe:

Immune-boosting soup
Miso Fennel Chicken Soup


When fighting off colds, maintaining a healthy digestive tract is key. Yogurt contains live and active cultures of probiotics to help stimulate the immune system. It’s also a good source of calcium and protein (especially plain Greek yogurt). When shopping for this immune-boosting food, check the labels to make sure it contains live probiotics.

Try this KIWI recipe:

Immune-boosting Yogurt Granola Bark
Yogurt-Granola Breakfast Bark

For more ways to support a healthy immune system, listen to our Raising Healthy Families podcast on how to nourish a healthy gut with an integrative gastroenterologist.