A strong immune system is key to staying healthy and avoiding illness. What you eat and drink can have a major impact on immune function. Here are six nutritional tips to help boost your immune system and keep you feeling your best.
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Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Filling your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to support immune health. Fruits and veggies are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system. Try to eat a diverse mix and aim for at least 5-9 servings per day. Some great options include citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, squash, and sweet potatoes. Eating a rainbow of produce ensures you get a wide range of beneficial nutrients and plant compounds. Aside from vitamins C and E, fruits and vegetables provide beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and numerous polyphenols that act as antioxidants to battle inflammation and support immune cell function.
Choose Lean Protein
Protein provides the building blocks for important cells in the immune system. Choose healthy protein sources like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. Avoid highly processed meats which can promote inflammation. Aim for a few servings of lean protein each day. Protein is vital for the structure and function of antibodies, immune cells, and messenger molecules that help coordinate the immune response. Amino acids like arginine and glutamine are especially important. Getting adequate protein ensures your body can generate these compounds to mount an appropriate immune reaction.
Water is vital for overall health and immune function. Dehydration can negatively impact immune cells and their ability to respond to foreign invaders. Drink plenty of fluids each day, focusing on water and herbal tea. If you’re sick, increasing fluid intake can thin mucus and prevent dehydration. Ensuring proper hydration keeps mucous membranes moist and flushed of viruses and bacteria. Drinking liquids also helps thin secretions for easy expulsion from the airways. When fighting an illness, sipping warm broths, teas, or plain water can help ease congestion and prevent the effects of dehydration like headache, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.
Take a Probiotic
The gut is home to 70% of the immune system. Taking a probiotic supplement can help promote a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn supports immune function. Look for a broad-spectrum probiotic with strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Follow dosage instructions and take them consistently for benefits.
Certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs have been shown to enhance immune response. Supplementing with key nutrients can fill any gaps in your diet. Helpful immune-boosting supplements include:
- Vitamin C – Potent antioxidant that stimulates white blood cell production. Look for 500-1000 mg per day.
- Vitamin D – Critical for immune cell activation. Many people are deficient, especially in winter. Get 2000-4000 IU per day.
- Zinc – Supports the development and function of immune cells. Take up to 30 mg per day.
- Elderberry – Herbal supplement that may prevent infections and reduce symptoms. Take as directed.
- Echinacea – Herb that enhances immune cell activity. Look for capsules or tinctures.
Consider an immune support multivitamin that contains optimal doses of many key nutrients.
Take advantage of a variety of supplement coupons and deals to get these immune boosters at a discounted price.
Chronic stress takes a toll on the immune system. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and visualization. Get plenty of sleep, which is essential for immune function. Manage daily stressors and make time for fun and relaxation.
Supporting your immune system through diet and lifestyle gives your body the tools it needs to defend against germs and prevent illness. Implement some of these nutritional tips to keep your immune system strong and working its best.