How to Boost Your Immune SystemFoods, Vitamins and Minerals that help the immune system
If you are among the millions of people across the world who are looking for help on how to boost your immune system, then you have come to the right page. Here we will answer the fundamental question ‘what is the immune system?’ We also provide you with some examples, which are primarily foods that contain minerals and vitamins to boost your immune system.
What is the immune system?
This may seem like an obvious question, but while the definition is rather simple, an actual explanation of how the human body’s immune system works is far more complicated and beyond the scope of this page. Basically, the immune system is your body’s defence mechanism. It fights against germs, bacteria and other microorganisms that would otherwise invade your body and cause illness, diseases and infections. This system is made up of cells, organs and tissues that are involved in the detection and destruction of harmful microorganisms. In this way it protects other vital bodily systems, and ensures you remain healthy.
Immunity means the body’s ability to launch a defence against germs or other invaders. In order to function properly the immune system needs to distinguish between its own tissues and organs, and things that originate from outside. Failure to make this distinction can result in autoimmune diseases. The immune system prevents you from getting sick with illness, infection and disease. However, its effectiveness often depends on how well you look after yourself. Eating the right foods and ensuring you look after your nutrition will help to maintain a healthy immune system. Conversely, eating unhealthy foods, crash dieting, or not looking after your body may leave the immune system weak and vulnerable.
So in a nutshell, the immune system the body’s way of defending itself against illness. If you look after your body, then your body is going to be able to look after you. In our next section we will discuss how to boost your immune system to ensure you are making every effort to look after your health.
Immune System BoostersHow you can help yourself
Now that we have answered the question ‘what is the immune system?’, we move on to immune system boosters. A lot of these are relatively easy and can really go a long way to helping you stay in good health.
At this point we should mention that, even if you make all of the necessary efforts described here, you may still get ill sometimes! A healthy immune system does not mean that you are ‘immune’ to all illnesses and infections. This may sound like a contradiction in terms, but in fact the immune system is active all the time. There are various diseases, from the common cold to far more serious illnesses, that can develop despite all our best efforts. However, having a healthy immune system tends to mean that when you do get a cold, for example, your body will be able to fight it off more quickly than otherwise.
So, the best thing we can do is make the relevant efforts to stay healthy and boost the immune system.
Here we have listed some fundamental immune system boosters that almost everyone can follow:
This is without a doubt the key element in relation to boosting your immune system. By enjoying the right foods you make sure that you get all of the necessary nutrients you need in order to remain strong and healthy. We talk more about immune system foods further down the page, particularly some of the specific minerals and vitamins to boost your immune system.
Keep your body fit
You do not need to go to the gym every day in order to maintain a basic level of fitness. Half an hour of moderate exercise, five times a week, is what is recommended in the UK. Whether this is cycling, hiking, swimming or simply walking to and from work, this level of activity will go a long way to keeping your body healthy.
Your body needs a MINIMUM of 8-10 cups of water every day to work normally. Without this you can become dehydrated and thus more vulnerable to illness and infection. Making sure you keep hydrated is a key immune system booster. Remember that all drinks count towards your water intake, even hot drinks like tea and coffee. However, water, milk and unsweetened fruit juices are the healthiest choices.
The body needs rest in order to stay well. If you have a regular sleeping pattern and get a sufficient amount of sleep each night, then you are going to be helping your immune system and overall health of your body. This is one very important factor when it comes to how to boost your immune system. On average, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, though this varies between individuals.
Get your five a day
Everyone knows fresh foods are good for you, but eating at least five portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day goes a long way towards making sure your body gets the nutrition that it requires. As well as the regular choices of things like apples, spinach or carrots, you can try other options. Fresh garlic is particularly good for the immune system, as are varieties of mushroom including reishi, maitake, and shiitake.
Reduce your stress levels
Chronic stress exposes your body to a steady stream of hormones that suppress the immune system. This makes you more vulnerable to illness. While you may not be able to eliminate stress from your life, you can learn to manage it more effectively. Meditation, guided imagery and a strong social network are all proven to lower stress levels.
Many of these tips are also critical when it comes to boosting your metabolism. Many people think there is some big secret when it comes to how to boost the immune system, when in actual fact it is a combination of these methods listed here that do the job. Please read on for some ideas on immune system foods and also minerals and vitamins that will help you as well.
Vitamins to Boost Immune System
Vitamins to boost your immune system
Now that we have discussed how to improve the immune system and provided some examples, we will give some practical examples of immune system boosting foods that can be consumed in order to get the necessary vitamins to boost your immune system.
Boosting your immune system is going to be achieved much more effectively if you consume foods containing the following vitamins:
Helping the overall health of the body, vitamin B12 helps with metabolism and is vital for a healthy nervous system This important nutrient also helps your body use iron and folic acid efficiently. Some of the types of food rich vitamin B12 include seafood, red meat, yeast extract, cheese and eggs. For more information please see our page dedicated to foods high in vitamin B12.
Another very important immune system nutrient. Vitamin A protects the body from vision related diseases as well as helping to maintain healthy skin, bones, teeth and digestive system. Foods that are high in vitamin A include carrots, cod liver oil, cheese, eggs and sweet potato. For a full list of vitamin A rich foods please click here.
Despite common misconceptions, unfortunately vitamin C is not the cure for the common cold. However regularly taking this immune system boosting vitamin can help you stay healthy and prevent the onset of such illnesses. Vitamin C helps produce white blood cells, which in turn increases the body’s defense mechanism against germs and harmful microorganisms. This immune system vitamin is found in citrus fruits such as oranges, as well as broccoli, spinach and potatoes. For a full list of vitamin C foods please click here.
This is an essential vitamin that helps to regulate levels of calcium in your blood and also keep your bones healthy. It is without a doubt one of the key vitamins to boost the immune system because it is known to reduce the chances of cancer, osteoporosis and various other autoimmune system diseases. A few foods with this vital immune system vitamin in are red meat, fortified cereals, sea food, mushrooms and orange juice. For a full list of vitamin D rich foods please check out our dedicated page.
One of vitamin E’s key roles is that it helps the body to create antibodies in order to fight against germs and harmful microorganisms. It is an antioxidant that really can help boost a lagging immune system. This is one of the most important vitamins to boost the immune system. VItamin E can be obtained from eating nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and vegetables such as asparagus and spinach. For a full breakdown of foods rich in vitamin E, please see our comprehensive page.
Another important immune system vitamin. There are many benefits to be obtained from consuming vitamin K, in particular it helps protect against cardiovascular disease and helps with blood clotting. Foods that contain vitamin K include grapes, cashew nuts, cabbage, eggs and chicken. For a full list of foods high in vitamin K please click here.
Minerals to increase your immune system
We now move on to immune system minerals and some of the foods that they can be found in. All of the foods that we have listed both above and below are fantastic health boosters. These should be taken into serious consideration when you plan your diet with how to increase your immune system in mind.
Zinc is what is known as a ‘trace mineral’. This means that although we require a regular dose of it, we only need very small amounts compared to some nutrients. However, zinc is an important immune system mineral. It accelerates skin cell renewal which speeds wound healing, and seems to have some antiviral effect, although researchers don’t yet understand why. Zinc can be found in many foods, notably oysters, nuts and seeds, chicken, dark chocolate, egg, beans and yogurt.
Another trace mineral, however this nutrient plays a pivotal role in the well being of your body. Selenium ensures the thyroid gland works effectively and also works as an antioxidant. It is believed to be able to fight off free radicals, which can cause cancer. Foods that contain selenium include brazil nuts, wheat, oats, tuna, rice and bacon. For a full list of selenium rich foods please click here, where you will also find many more details on this vital nutrient.
We hope that this section on nutrients to boost the immune system has been helpful. Please remember to check out the other pages that we have on this site. We look at vitamins and minerals found in foods and the positive benefits that can be obtained from consuming them regularly. These nutrients are vital to the body for many more reasons than just being immune system boosters.