Wondering how to boost the immune system? Well, your immune system consists of specialized cells, tissues, and proteins. It’s responsible for fighting foreign invaders like pathogenic bacteria and viruses that cause disease and infection in your body.
When your immune system comes into contact with pathogens, it releases antibodies, which ultimately kill those antibodies.
This system also destroys the cells within the body when they become cancerous.
Poor nutrition, along with other factors results in increased infections rate, slow healing from injury and infections. Also, these factors increase susceptibility to symptoms and complications of a specific disease like COVID-19 infection.
Research studies showed that your immune function often decreases with age. Recent research suggests this decrease is also related to how you can protect your body during these troubling times.
Making healthy lifestyle choices by consuming nutritious foods, multivitamins, and supplements, along with avoiding bad food habits and getting enough sleep and exercise, are the most important ways to bolster your immune system.
Read on to discover how to build your immune system? Which foods can boost your immune system naturally?
Which Foods Can Boost Your Immune System Naturally?
A balanced and healthy diet plays a vital role in staying well. Feeding your body certain immune boosting foods may help keep your immune system strong.
Arrange your meals to add these powerful immune system boosters.
Citrus fruits are enriched in vitamin C. Many people turn vitamin C when they have caught a cold or flu. That’s because it helps build up your immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells.
Another study suggests that vitamin C can improve the components of your immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cells (5).
To increase your vitamin C intake, add these citrus foods to your diet:
Keynote: For continued health, you must need daily vitamin C as your body doesn't produce or store it.
Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. It also contains a high amount of beta carotene. It’s a pigment that found naturally in several plants. When consumed, beta carotene converts into vitamin A.
Studies showed that vitamin A helps regulate the immune system (6).
Keynote: Beta carotenes are better absorbed when cooked or eaten with fat.
Blueberries can help boost a person’s immune system as it contains a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin. A research study conducted in 2016 found that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defence system (7).
Researchers also found that individuals who ate flavonoids enriched foods were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection or common cold than those who did not.
Elderberry is a shrub which extract has antiviral, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also enriched in flavonoids.
People take elderberry syrup as a remedy for colds, flu, and bacterial sinus infections. It works by reducing swelling in mucus membranes. Some research studies suggest its extract reduces the duration of the flu.
Keynote: Although, elderberry benefits are numerous but it may interact with certain prescription medications including laxatives, steroids, diuretics and diabetes medications. Consult with your doctor before adding any new remedy to your regimen.
Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant. They also contain magnesium, manganese, and fiber.
Vitamin E improves your immune function. It does this by fighting off free radicals, which can damage cells. A study showed that it protects cells from damage and assists immune function (8).
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin. It means it requires fat for proper absorption. Almonds are also packed with healthy fats.
Keynote: Forty six whole, shelled almonds or a half cup of almond serving provides around 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.
Yogurt is an enriched source of probiotics (live and active cultures) that are necessary for proper digestion and detoxification. It also regulates your immune system to help fight diseases.
Yogurt also provides you with calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin B2. The adequate level of these vitamins is necessary for robust immune function.
Especially, vitamin D helps stimulate the immune system and is thought to boost the body’s natural defences against diseases. A research study showed that higher vitamin D3 doses might be useful for the treatment of people who become infected with COVID-19.
Keynote: Try to consume plain yogurt instead of flavoured one that is loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with a drizzle of honey or healthy fruits instead.
Garlic has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal and immune boosting properties. It is a common home remedy for the prevention of colds and other illness.
According to a review study, precipitants were evaluated whether taking garlic supplements containing allicin reduced the risk of getting a cold. The research concluded that individuals who were not taking garlic supplements had more than double the number of colds than those taking the garlic supplements.
However, more research is still necessary.
Keynote: Be mindful, if you do try garlic supplements; choose the one that contains the active ingredients “allicin” contained in real garlic.
Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables. It’s enriched in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber, minerals and many other antioxidants. Sulforaphane is one of the potent antioxidants; for this reason, it is an excellent choice of vegetable to support immune system health.
Keynote: The key to keeping its nutrients intact is to cook it as less as possible. Even it’s better to eat raw broccoli. A research study has shown that steaming is the best way to keep more intact nutrients in the food.
Green tea is supercharged with flavonoids, a type of antioxidants. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is another powerful antioxidant present in green tea as well as in black tea. In multiple research studies, EGCG has been shown to improve immune function.
Green tea is also a good source of L-theanine. It’s an amino acid that may help in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells.
Research studies also found that green tea may help you live longer. In a research study of 40,530 Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period (9).
Another research study in 14,001 elderly Japanese individuals aged found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the six-year study period (10) .
Keynote: The fermentation process destroys EGCG. Try to consume green tea instead of black tea as green tea is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.
Mushrooms are high in polysaccharides (sugar like molecules), selenium and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin. These compounds are necessary for your immune system to work efficiently.
Other Ways To Boost The Immune System
The other lifestyle strategies that may make a person’s immune system stronger are to:
- Engage in moderate exercise
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid alcohol or drink moderately
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limit added sugar
- Stay hydrated
- Practice correct hand-washing and oral hygiene
- Supplement wisely
Supplements to Boost Your Immune System
Wondering how to boost immune system quickly? Immune boosting supplements and whole-food multivitamins may help as these contain good and optimum daily doses of antioxidants and other nutrients found in whole foods. But, it's a good idea to consult your healthcare provider first.
It’s essential to be mindful that consuming just one of the above listed immune booster foods won’t be enough to help fight off infections even if you eat it constantly. You should pay to attention to serving sizes and recommended daily intake so that you don’t get too much of a single nutrient and too little of others.