Nutrition • 7 Aug 2020

Eating the Rainbow to Boost Your Immunity

By uci_admin

Eating the Rainbow to Boost Your Immunity

By Maggie Quinn, ND – SSIHI Naturopathic Practitioner

Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute

UCI Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences

During this challenging time, we may find ourselves reaching for our favorite comfort foods that contain more sugar and fat than we normally eat in order to soothe ourselves. But in order to maintain our immune system it is important to reach for fresh produce and whole foods.  Eating fruits and vegetables with a variety of color ensures that our body is nourished with essential nutrients to support our immune system. It doesn’t matter if you are a vegan, paleo, keto, ovolactovegetarian – eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables every day! I recommend 2-3 different colors with each meal.


Orange foods, such as carrots, squash, sweet potato and pumpkin get their color from their high quantity of carotenoids, which convert to Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to support our white blood cells, which act as first responder’s during a viral or bacterial infection. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits and lemon are high in vitamin C.  Red foods, such as grapefruit, red bell peppers, tomatoes and watermelon contain a high quantity of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant.


Spinach, Kale, Brussel Sprouts – contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamin A, C, and E. Kiwis contain high amounts of vitamin C, folate and potassium. Green veggies are most nutrient- dense when consumed raw or lightly cooked.


Dark blues and purples – such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and grapes are full of polyphenols, specifically anthocyanidins. These powerful phytonutrients are anti-inflammatory, and also help to regulate blood sugar and decrease risk of heart disease. Studies indicate that individuals with poorly regulated blood sugar and high blood pressure may be at a higher risk of developing complications with the Coronavirus.


Garlic and onions both contain antiviral and antibacterial properties. They nourish the body with quercetin, a nutrient which helps regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Ginger is another herb which helps to moderate pain and reduce inflammation.

Eat to nourish your body, and to support your immune system. Remember, at least 2-3 colors with each meal to create your daily rainbow!

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