How To Boost Your Immune System By Eating The Right Foods

Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases. It protects your body from infection. It is essential to give your body excellent daily nutrition to keep your immune system healthy and strong.

There are still relatively few studies of the effects of nutrition on the immune system of humans, and even fewer studies that tie the effects of nutrition directly to the development (versus the treatment) of diseases.

This is not the same thing as getting enough sleep. For example, microarrays or "gene chips" based on the human genome allow scientists to look simultaneously at how thousands of gene sequences are turned on or off in response to specific physiological conditions — for example, blood cells from athletes before and after exercise. This tutorial on how to peel garlic in 7 seconds makes it easier than ever to add garlic to your meals. Oranges and kiwis are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is the vitamin that many people turn to when they feel a cold developing. Of course work and life stress of the common variety are what we think of when we think of stress traditionally, but too, the body also perceives food intolerances and allergies as stressors on the body, along with exposure to toxins and other environmental factors.

  • The scientist can only measure things that may reflect stress, such as the number of times the heart beats each minute, but such measures also may reflect other factors.
  • A number of recent medical trials have demonstrated that individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D had the highest rates of serious illness and infections.
  • Most people peel it, but when you include the peel, you triple the amount of fiber you get from this tasty fruit.
  • Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach.
  • If you happen to be travelling in different time zones on a regular basis, consume 2–3mg of Melatonin to reset the circadian rhythm.
  • She recommends eating nine servings of vegetables every day — most than the USDA recommendation — and in order to do that, she says it is imperative to build all three meals around vegetables.
  • Choose foods first as your source of vitamins and nutrients.

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But all year around, you must also nurture your body. Herbs such as andrographis, AHCC, astragalus, echinacea, and elderberry are among those people use in the belief they may help reduce the duration and severity of sickness if taken as soon as cold or flu symptoms arise. Sign up to receive the latest health and science news, plus answers to wellness questions and expert tips.

A note on why we want to reduce excess inflammation: Keep the whole family healthy to avoid exposure to influenza when possible. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should sit back and wait for the inevitable. The one big exception to this “eat your vitamins” rule is vitamin D, which isn’t easy to find in food. 10 simple and natural ways to boost your immune system, instead, we should be thinking about optimising our body's ability to fight infections. Some people seem to breeze through cold-and-flu season without so much as a sniffle.

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Along with frequent hand washing a strong immune system is one of your best defenses against illness. This causes inflammation around the body, as does the natural accumulation of old “zombie” cells, called senescent cells, and inflammation compromises the immune response. Get a good night's rest. It also plays the vital role of determining what tissues belong to your body and leaving them alone, and quickly recognizing and eliminating foreign proteins from a bacteria or virus. These immune-strengthening tips may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget them until after you get sick.

  • They observed better functioning T-cells and reduced inflammation, in a way not seen before through drug interventions.
  • Reducing stress and giving your immune system a break on the go is possible if you learn to incorporate meditation into the busy parts of your day.
  • Many studies have shown that nutrient deficiencies cause impaired immune function in the elderly.

Harness the Power of Garlic Cloves

The more plants you eat, the more antioxidant rich, vitamin rich and mineral rich your diet will be — which is one of the quickest ways to appropriately support your body’s immune response. Strengthening immunity is a holistic process that involves nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and other factors. As you head into cold and flu season, try stocking up on health-boosting foods and see what happens. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens. Walnuts, fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C (e. )A calming, soothing aromatic that also delivers antimicrobial action to an irritated respiratory tract.

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Need a recipe for cooking with nutritious bell peppers? You might not feel up to going outside for a walk in bad weather, but movement is proven to help your immune system. “If you don’t have adequate vitamin D circulating, you are less effective at producing these proteins and more susceptible to infection,” says Dr. Vitamin D is essential for healthy functioning of the immune system as it helps the body to produce antibodies. Kefir yoghurt and pickles such as sauerkraut and kimchi are among the fermented delicacies now fashionable thanks to our increasing knowledge of the microbiome. Considering that communicable diseases like colds and flu are highly contagious and have no cure other than to run their course, your best bet is to prevent becoming ill in the first place. If you are concerned about immune health, you may consider having your vitamin D level checked and talking to your doctor about whether to take a supplement.

Spinach may boost the immune system, as it contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants, including: On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. Teach your kids to wash their hands. Staying hydrated can boost your immune health too, Zumpano says. Modern medicine has come to appreciate the closely linked relationship of mind and body.

I use it in everything. So far, researchers who are studying this question think that normal exposure to moderate cold doesn't increase your susceptibility to infection. This is important because antioxidants help protect your cells from damage and can lower your risk for infections and disease. Plus, we usually end up taking care of other people more than we take care of ourselves.


Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly. Children and adults exposed to tobacco smoke are more at risk for respiratory infections, including colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis and middle ear infections. In one study, after researchers inoculated volunteers’ noses with cold viruses (a reward was involved), men and women who habitually slept less than seven hours a night were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients—like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E—that can boost immune function. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. You cut your sleep short for a few nights in a row, only to find yourself sick with a head cold. According to the Mayo Clinic too little shuteye lowers your body's number of infection-fighting antibodies and cells making you more likely to get sick after being exposed to the cold or flu virus.

If you suspect that your diet isn't covering all the nutritional bases talk with your health care provider about taking a daily multivitamin. Always feel sick: causes, treatment, and when to see a doctor, “Parents getting sick from their kids isn’t really something CDC tracks or has data on,” Martha Sharon, a CDC public affairs representative wrote in an email. Low levels of vitamin D are related to a higher susceptibility to infection and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin B6-rich foods include chicken and cold water fish such as salmon and tuna. It helps you build muscle by carrying more oxygen to your cells.

Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity. Fortunately, there are ways you can strengthen your immune system. Author, Deepak Chopra, characterizes a more modern view: Onions are good for you!

Demonstrating whether an herb — or any substance, for that matter — can enhance immunity is, as yet, a highly complicated matter.

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So stock up on oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and tangerines this winter for some easy, grab-and-go flu fighters. People take elderberry syrup as a remedy for colds, flus, and bacterial sinus infections. It’s not that vitamin C isn’t crucial to immune function (and other things, such as bone structure).

If you starve yourself, your body will pump out stress hormones. Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. “Exercise mobilises them by increasing your blood flow, so they can do their surveillance jobs and seek and destroy in other parts of the body. Keep a gratitude journal. A study published in Neuroimmunomodulation found that simply smelling citrus fragrances could reduce stress-induced immunosuppression. But that doesn't mean the effects of lifestyle on the immune system aren't intriguing and shouldn't be studied. A number of studies have shown that a strong immune system goes hand-in-hand with being fit. When it is working, the viruses and toxins don’t have a chance.

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Also, research shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage. The best part of how nutrition can boost your immune system, is that we have complete control over what we put in our bodies and the bodies of our kids. While vitamins and supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet, the best way to load up on essential nutrients is to get them straight from food. When your immune system is compromised, it’s like tearing down a wall that would otherwise help to keep germs at bay.

If you do only one thing when you feel like you’re coming down with something, eliminating sugar will do the most good. Take the 1000 Hour Challenge. While flu shots and rest are common advice for prevention, a strong immune system is critical to keeping you healthy all year long. Scientists have dunked people in cold water and made others sit nude in subfreezing temperatures. Probiotics can help your digestive system function normal and stay balanced. Several studies have demonstrated that people who consumed elderberry syrup (1 tablespoon daily) had a lower incidence of viral infection than those who did not. The immune system is your body’s network of organs, tissues, and cells that work together to keep you healthy by fighting off harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Decrease your intake of refined foods, sugar and alcohol, all of which have been shown to decrease resistance to infection.

The answer is that not all immune systems function alike. Taking drugs that suppress the removal of the invader(s) and instead trapping it inside your body? For individuals, prevention is key. Bradley recommends eating lots of dark green, leafy vegetables and berries, as well as nuts and seeds, and to minimize foods with sugar and trans fats, which aren’t as nutrient-dense. We will soon be entering into a new season, which includes school and colder weather. Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not.

Garlic is full of compounds like allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates, powerful molecules that help your body prevent and fight infections.

Make Friends with Ginger

If you do take supplements, try to take them early in the day and with food. In our household, we drizzle it over oatmeal or add it to seltzer water for a delicious elderberry spritzer. Just about anyone could catch the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that is spreading around the world, but it is especially affecting those who have compromised immune systems. He recommends engaging in activities that people find relaxing, such as meditation. This post is meant to inform and educate—it is not a replacement for medical advice and should not be construed as such. But is this something we should be spending our money on?

You can find 224 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in a single papaya. Sleep helps your T cells stick to and attack infections. Can supplements help your immunity? Your immune system can become compromised by dietary, environmental, and lifestyle insults. It’s trying to bypass all the early stuff and create the memory, so you don’t have to be sick. While it’s not fully understood why, it may be that exercise contributes by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently along with improving our antibody response to infection.

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Over the past few decades, though, the average time asleep has dropped to less than 7 hours a night for adults. Commit to 1000 Hours Outside in 2020. Add spinach to your eggs. Depending on the nature of what’s got you under the weather, a prescription or over-the-counter medication may be needed. When you’re “in the slumps,” it can be easy to avoid eating altogether.

It is necessary to soak the dried ones until tender, about 20 minutes before cooking. Your body also synthesizes Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Oysters are the richest source of zinc, which is essential for immune cell function, and many studies have shown that even a mild deficiency depresses immunity. The skin microbiome is important, too, but we know less about it. Simply put, they can turn on the immune systems T-cells, which travel the bloodstream seeking and destroying cancer cells. ” Making healthy lifestyle choices during cold and flu season (and all year round) will help build defenses in your body so you are not susceptible to illness. Run through a mesh strainer and discard pulp. Sambucus nigra, or black elderberry bush, is the version most commonly used to make syrup and lozenges.

The key to good health is a strong immune system.


Give your body time to rest. Above 30 is optimal. Massage has shown to improve immune function in studies of Dominican children with HIV. By ingesting up to 1 gram daily of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, you may be able to shorten the length of a cold or flu. Some experiments with mice suggest that cold exposure might reduce the ability to cope with infection. Wash your hands.

Phytochemical antioxidants are immune-boosting and can be found in apples. Positive thinking could support your immune system as it fights off the flu this year. ” Anything that thinks and is conscious needs to be loved and cared for. Read more about vitamin D, sun exposure and supplementation here, here and here. Berries are also high in antioxidants, like vitamin C, which help prevent cell damage and inflammation. It can also increase the chances of developing harmful pathogenic immune responses and smoking also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system’s defenses.

It’s really important to note that by incorporating a variety of healthy fats, we are fueling our body’s ability to do it’s job. Get emotional support if you are struggling by seeing a therapist or joining a support group. Incorporating stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, calming baths, exercise, self-care practices and anything else that allows you to relax can all be helpful in mitigating the damaging effects of stress, especially on our immune system. Should you bundle up when it's cold outside? Hot apple juice is relaxing for the body and can be diluted with kukicha as a healthy alternative to cold drinks.

Friendly bacteria not only attack pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but also they trigger appropriate white cell reactions to invaders and they influence your mental/emotional state.

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As you'll see, these aren't much different from establishing a healthy daily lifestyle. Ume plums are reputed to aid in the healing of a wide array of ailments from stomachaches to migraines, because they alkalize the blood. Studies suggest that breastfeeding influences the development of the immune system and its protection against disease, for life. There are natural melatonin supplements if you feel the need. And it’s not just chronic drinking that does damage.

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A 2020 study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity fed mice diets that differed only in that some were given soluble fiber and some were given insoluble fiber. You can also take Vitamin D supplements, but studies show that without sufficient Magnesium in the body, Vitamin D supplementation is totally ineffective, and taking high doses can actually be quite harmful. The good news is that regular moderate-intensity exercise confers several benefits to the immune system. Even a dim source like a bedside clock or a night light may switch melatonin production off, so keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Healthy immune function starts with what you feed your body. Give your immune system a boost and try them today! The immune system is also responsible for inflammation, the natural process that occurs in response to injury. When someone in my family sniffles, I make an immune soup based on a recipe Brigitte Mars shared with me years ago:

Take probiotic supplements. In one study, marathon runners who took glutamine instead of a placebo had less chance of experiencing an upper-respiratory infection after racing. In general, our vitamin D levels tend to be influenced by sun exposure, skin tone and latitude — people in northern areas who get less sun exposure in the winter typically have lower vitamin D.

Exercise has many benefits. And no one wants to be sick. Most immunizations occur during childhood. If an excess of bad fats and oils are consumed on a regular basis, this triggers constant inflammation and disease WILL prevail. Lightly cooked leafy greens like watercress are also extremely beneficial.

Eat Enough Good Food

If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Just don’t swap the antibacterial for soap. Bone broth is rich in so many key nutrients responsible for boosting your immune function and helpful in healing your gut, which as we already discussed is where a good majority of our immune system lives. Part of my job as a specialist in physical and rehabilitative medicine at the UCI Health Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute is to help women improve their immune function, overcome chronic infections and treat autoimmune disorders. Tip to remember: Contact us at [email protected]

Just make sure you eat a little saturated fat from butter or coconut oil with those veggies, so you can absorb all their nutrients.

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Some scientists are trying to take the next step to determine whether exercise directly affects a person's susceptibility to infection. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits and tangerines; strawberries and papaya; vegetables, such as spinach, kale, Brussel sprouts and broccoli. Keep exercising. Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. If you can't get enough time in the sun, consider a vitamin D supplement to ward off infections. Dark-colored produce (berries, kale, broccoli) tends to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants. Rest, diet, exercise, and stress management all help equip your body to dodge diseases and recover faster if you do get sick.

Due to frequent and recurring usage of antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria have emerged and they are more difficult to treat. Breastfeeding for even a few weeks helps protect babies from disease by passing along the mother’s antibodies. The good news is there are many things you can do to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Smoking destroys our oral immune system, it should come as no surprise that washing your hands often, being fully vaccinated, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet are effective ways of protecting yourself against viruses and other germs. Not getting enough sleep can lead to higher levels of a stress hormone.

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While you could get some or all of these from a pill, he says eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the better way to go. Probiotic supplements, available at natural food stores, may reduce the risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea, viral diarrhea, vaginitis and respiratory infections. The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. Keep up with your kids’ vaccines. Please select your country.