Our immune system comprises a collection of cells, processes, and chemicals that defend our body from pathogens such as toxins, viruses, and bacteria. Having a strong immune system throughout the year will prevent infections and diseases. But how do you attain a strong immune system? Ever heard of a saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, what you consume goes a long way in ensuring that you have a strong immune system.
Healthy lifestyle choices that include a balanced diet, lots of colored fruits and water, exercise, enough sleep, and rest are the key to having a strong immune system. Especially now that we are learning how to change our living style due to COVID-19, everyone needs a strong immune system, hygiene measures, and social distancing to ensure that they keep the virus at bay. Additionally, there is some recommended supplement that can also help in improving the immune system. They include:
Supplements to Help Boost the Immune System
This is an essential mineral that is commonly added to supplements and other healthcare products such as lozenges to improve the immune system. Zinc is also essential for immune cell formation and communication and plays a significant role in the inflammatory response.
Additionally, zinc protects tissue barriers in our bodies, barricading pathogens from entering. Lack of this nutrient can significantly affect your immune system’s ability to function well, leading to high risks of contracting diseases and infections.
About 16% of all respiratory infections around the world are a result of zinc deficiency. The deficiency of zinc affects about 2 billion people worldwide and is most common in older adults. Up to 30% of older adults lack this mineral in their bodies.
However, most U.S. citizens have zinc deficiency related to either intake or absorption. In this case, too, older adults are the most affected. Zinc supplements intake can reduce the duration of the common cold and is safe to be used for the long term by healthy adults as long as it is taken as recommended. However, excessive doses can interfere with copper absorption, hence increasing infection risks.
Vitamin C is one of the many vitamins needed in ensuring that one has a strong immune system. Vitamin C can prevent or shorten infection’s stay. Besides citrus fruit, vitamin C is found in spinach, papaya, strawberries, bell berries, brussels sprout, and kale. Vitamin C can occur in lots of food that you may not need supplements unless your doctor prescribes. Before taking vitamin C supplements, you should seek a doctor’s advice first.
Supplements Beneficial to Your Immune System
Black elderberry has been used for quite a while to treat infections. They are also believed to play a key role in enhancing a strong immune system. Elderberry extracts have demonstrated the ability to fight bacterial pathogens associated with upper respiratory tract infections and influenza viruses. Elderberry also shortens the duration and severity of the common cold and reduces symptoms associated with viral infections.
For decades, medicinal mushrooms have been used in the prevention and treatment of infections and diseases. Many types of medicinal mushrooms can boost the immune system. In fact, more than 270 species of medicinal mushrooms can enhance the immune system.
Among these species are lion’s mane, cordyceps, shitake, turkey, and reishi. Supplementing with medicinal mushrooms may help boost your immune system in multiple ways and reduce symptoms of conditions such as lung infections and asthma.
Iron is Good for Immune System
Besides carrying oxygen to cells, iron is a crucial mineral in boosting our immune system. Luckily, iron is found in many forms and occurs in animal products, including chicken, oysters, turkey, canned sardines, and red meat (you should consume red meat in small quantities and less often). For vegetarians, you can get iron from kale, beans, iron-fortified cereals, and broccoli.
Selenium has a great ability in preventing infections hence boosting the immune system. You can easily get selenium from animal food and Brazilian nuts with more than 100% daily value in a single nut. However, you should not take too much; one or two in a day are more than enough. You can get selenium from poultry, cottage cheese, meat and liver, and seafood, including halibut, tuna, and sardines.
Can Supplements Help Your Immune System?
The answer is yes. However, though vitamins and supplements can fill the gaps in your diet, the best way to get essential nutrients is by getting them straight from food. Our bodies absorb and utilize minerals and vitamins better when they are present in our diets.
When taking vitamins and supplements, you are not sure of the quantity that you are consuming. Since supplements are regulated at food instead of drugs, the Food and Drug Administration does not assess the quality and effects that they have on our bodies. More so, avoid taking vitamin E supplements because though they are beneficial to one’s health, they can also be harmful in some situations.
How to Choose the Right Groceries to Boost Your Immune System
When shopping for groceries to boost your immunity, remember, the more colorful the fruits and vegetables are, the better. Try different fruits and vegetables with different colors for better nutrients intake. By doing so, your plate will not only be enticing to look at, but you are sure that you are eating the right thing. Remember that a one-time healthy meal cannot attain a strong immunity; it is only achieved by ensuring that you develop healthy eating habits.
As earlier said, exercise, enough sleep, and lots of water are among things that can help you boost your immune system. Avoid things that can cause mental health challenges and ensure that you are keen on hygiene and social distancing, especially with Covid-19. There are no studies yet that prove the capability of any supplements that can prevent acquiring the virus.