12 Immune-Boosting Foods to Eat If You Don't Want to Get Sick This Winter

When we think about protecting and improving our immune systems (especially this time of year when sickness feels rampant), we typically think of popping Emergen-C, trying to get more than our usual three hours of sleep, and ordering the most vitamin C–filled cocktail on the menu. Tequila sunrise, anyone? Alas, those probably aren't the best strategies, and we know we could be more strategic when it comes to throwing our immune systems a bone come flu and cold season. "We are constantly being exposed to organisms on a daily basis that we ingest or come in contact with," explains functional nutritionist Samantha Franceschini. "Our Immune system is constantly on defense, and the strength of our immune system determines whether these organisms make us feel sick or slowly manifest into disease."

Since no one likes being sick—this cheery time of year in particular—we asked the industry's top nutritionists to share which tasty foods can help boost our immune systems and why they love them. Spoiler: Immunity is very much linked to what's going on in our gut, so prioritizing gut flora above all else proves vital. "It is important to remember that 80% of your immune system lives in your gastrointestinal system," says Franceschini "A healthy gut contributes to a healthy immune system. It's all about balance, and if you are eating more anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in vitamins and phytonutrients, you'll automatically support healthy immune function." But let's elaborate shall we? Ahead,12 tasty foods that boost your immune system without sacrificing the integrity of your comfort-craving taste buds this season. Keep scrolling!