Enhancing Immunity With Strawberries

  • Suzanna Nock BSc (Hons) Immunology and Pharmacology, University of Strathclyde, Scotland

Importance of a Healthy Immune system

The immune system is your body’s defence against any invading pathogens, or germs, which could potentially cause harmful diseases. Additionally, your immune system can protect you against cancer and any abnormal cells or carcinogenic substances can be removed or destroyed. The immune system involves many organs including your thymus, bone marrow, lymph nodes and spleen which all work intricately together to develop an immune response to protect you from a range of harmful agents.

There are two sections of your immune response which include the innate and the adaptive system. The innate immune system is activated first in response to a foreign substance. Occasionally, the innate system has the ability to clear the foreign substance however, if it cannot, the adaptive immune system is activated. This occurs through intricate communication pathways between the two systems.

If there is a deficiency in your immune system, this can be detrimental to your health and even be fatal. This highlights the importance of your immune system and the impact it can have in maintaining your short-term and long-term health.
Diet can have a profound effect in the functioning of your immune system, whether that be a positive or negative effect. Adding nutritionally dense foods into your diet, which include strawberries, can have an amazing impact to your health. Strawberries are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are great for fighting harmful chemicals within your body which can cause inflammation. These vitamins and minerals are also great for strengthening your immune system and enhancing your immune response. 
In this article, we will delve into the positive effects that strawberries can have on your immune system.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A has been found to be a crucial vitamin in the diet which helps to maintain the thymus, an important organ in the generation of effective immune cells called T cells. When we are low in this vitamin, this impacts our whole immune response.
Many immune cells, including T cells, rely on vitamin A for proper development and function. T cells are a crucial player in your immune response and can target a vast range of infections. Vitamin A helps to improve the migration of these cells which can help any infection you may have be cleared as quickly as possible.

This happens through a ‘lock and key’ process. The T cells in your blood stream need to enter into the surrounding tissues to then target the infection and they have a particular ‘key’ to allow them to do so. Vitamin A helps to keep the number of ‘locks’ available to your T cells high and therefore, enhances your immune response.

Antibodies, which are produced by an immune cell called B cells, bind onto their targets, which are normally harmful substances, and allow them to be easily recognised by the immune system for destruction. Scientists have found that adding foods rich in vitamin A can help improve your immune response by enhancing the production of antibodies, which are produced to help destroy infections. Antibodies are a crucial part of your immune system and a decrease in your antibody levels can decrease the defence your immune system gives you.

This can increase your chance of harmful infections. A particular antibody, named IgA, plays a big role in the health of your gut. It is produced within the gut and helps to destroy any harmful bugs that enter through your digestive tract. It was found that vitamin A helps to improve IgA production, highlighting the importance of vitamin A in your gut immunity and in the overall health of your gut.1

Vitamin C

A severe deficiency in vitamin C leads to scurvy which causes breakdown of supportive tissues in your body, as well as a deficient immune system. This is why making sure you are adding enough vitamin C into your diet is important for a properly functioning immune system. Strawberries are very high in vitamin C, with one serving of strawberries offering you enough vitamin C for the day.

There are many ways in which vitamin C helps improve the functioning of your immune system. It helps to improve the migration of immune cells to where they are needed most. This is very important for your health as it allows the infection to be cleared up or the injury to be healed as quickly as possible.2 Once an infection has been detected in the body, many immune cells called lymphocytes will start to multiply rapidly which will allow your body to build a proper defence.

Vitamin C enhances this process which means that adequate vitamin C levels can improve your immunity by speeding up the time it takes to produce an immune response.

As mentioned above, antibodies are an integral part to the immune system and vitamin C helps to improve your antibody defence. This is because vitamin C helps to induce the production of some key antibodies to your immune system. IgA, a key antibody in the defence against gut infections, is enhanced by vitamin C and helps to protect against a wide range of infections which enter through your mouth. This antibody is particularly important with bacterial or parasitic infections within the gut as it helps to prevent the adherence of bacteria onto your gut wall which prevents the bacteria from growing and causing a serious infection.


Antioxidants are great for your health as they help to kill harmful chemicals within your body called free radicals. Free radicals can be produced within your body through normal metabolic processes or through exposure to external risk factors including pollution, cigarette smoke, UV rays and medication. Chronic exposure to free radicals can cause damage to your DNA which can eventually lead to cancer, which highlights the importance of antioxidants to your overall health.3

With regards to your immune system, antioxidants can greatly enhance your immune response. Chronic exposure to free radicals can lead to a deficiency in an immune cell called T cells which are crucial in your overall immunity, including immunity against cancer and viral infection. Strawberries are a great source for many antioxidants which all help to improve your immunity. Below are the antioxidants which are contained within strawberries.


Manganese has strong antioxidant properties which has powerful effects within the immune system. Manganese helps to form superoxide dismutase (SOD) which offers protective help with the immune system and can tackle and destroy harmful infections more efficiently. SOD will capture and destroy of any damaging chemicals which will cause damage to your body cells and ultimately cause inflammation. SOD also has anti-cancer effects within your body.

When you are exposed to carcinogenic agents, such as cigarette smoke or UV rays, it leads to DNA damage which can, over time, cause cancerous cells to form. SOD will work with the immune system to find and remove any cancerous cells from the body before they become detrimental to your health.4 


This agent has both antimicrobial and antiviral effects and therefore, plays a strong role within your immune response. Anthocyanin can have powerful effects in viral infections, in particular influenza A infections. This is because it can stop the replication of viruses within our cells which stops the growth and therefore, the virus cannot cause damage or an infection. Due to its powerful effects in combatting viral infections, it has been suggested as a medication for viral infections.

Anthocyanins also help to hinder bacterial infections by preventing a process called bacterial adhesion. This is the first stage of a bacterial infection and allows the bacterial cells to grow and multiply.5 By preventing bacterial adhesion, anthocyanins can work with the immune system to help kill the bacterial invasion which highlights the powerful effects that strawberries have in your immune system and the importance of this fruit in your diet.


Quercetin is a potent antioxidant which has a wide range of effects within the immune response. Whilst also helping to protect against infection, this also helps to reduce excess inflammation which can cause damage within the body. It does this through preventing the release of harmful substances from immune cells called histamine which is linked to an allergy response, such as that of hay fever or asthma. Quercetin is known to have long lasting effects in reducing excess inflammation which can be caused through a range of reasons, including infection or chronic exposure to free radicals.6 This makes it important to add to the diet.


Is it good to eat strawberry everyday?

Enjoying these berries every day is a great way to help benefit you and your family's health. When you're looking for a healthy snack, think strawberries. Not only are they low in sugar, but the benefits of eating strawberries are many.

Are strawberries a Superfood?

So, in addition to being juicy and delicious, strawberries are packed with surprising health benefits. Some experts consider strawberries a kind of "super fruit" because, even though they're small, they have loads of vitamins and other beneficial compounds. In other words, strawberries are deliciously nutrient-dense.

Are strawberries antiviral?

The strawberry fruit juice at varying concentrations and pH exhibits a potent antiviral effect against CV-B5, echovirus 7, poliovirus-1, reovirus-1, and HSV [42].

Can you eat too much strawberries?

A serving size of strawberries is about 1 cup, or seven to 10 strawberries depending on their size. More than that could lead to side effects of eating too many strawberries, including gas, diarrhea, constipation or other digestive issues.

Do strawberries help with the flu?

There's some evidence that vitamin C can help people with the flu feel better faster. To increase your intake of vitamin C when you're sick, try adding lemon to your water or tea. Or drink a glass of orange juice. You can also try other foods high in vitamin C, like red and green peppers, strawberries, kiwi, and mango.


Strawberries contain a range of healthy compounds which are crucial to the overall functioning of the immune system including vitamins A and C and antioxidants including manganese, anthocyanins and quercetin. Vitamin A helps to mount a powerful immune response with white blood cells and antibodies. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which help reduce inflammation and allow for the generation of a proper immune response. Manganese has powerful antioxidant properties which can work alongside the immune system and also has anticancer benefits. Anthocyanins are important for immunity against bacterial and viral infections. Quercetin can have anti-allergy properties and can reduce inflammation.


  • Huang Z, Liu Y, Qi G, Brand D, Zheng S. Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2018;7(9):258. doi: 10.3390/jcm7090258
  • Carr A, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. doi: 10.3390/nu9111211
  • Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C. Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. Int J Biomed Sci. 2008;4(2):89-96. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/
  • Younus H. Therapeutic potentials of superoxide dismutase. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2018;12(3):88-93. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5969776/.
  • Dunne WM. Bacterial Adhesion: Seen Any Good Biofilms Lately? Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2002;15(2):155-66. URL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11932228/
  • Li Y, Yao J, Han C, Yang J, Chaudhry M, Wang S, et al. Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity. Nutrients. 2016;8(3):167. doi: 10.3390/nu8030167.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Suzanna Nock

BSc (Hons) Immunology and Pharmacology, University of Strathclyde, Scotland

With a strong interest for science, Suzanna pursued a degree in Immunology and Pharmacology in one of the top universities in Scotland.

During her final year and with the hopes of delving into a career in medical writing, she joined Klarity as an intern where she has elevated her writing skills and increased her range of knowledge within other areas of science and healthcare.

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