How to Strengthen the Immune System
Immunity and the immune system have been a huge part of our lives this
year. Boosting our immune system sounds like an enticing idea but is much more complicated. The immune system is incredibly complex and requires balance to function well.
The body’s immune system works to recognize and identify and infection or injury in the body. This triggers an immune response with the goal of restoring normal function. According to Dr. Suzanne Cassel, an
immunologist at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, some of the symptoms we experience when we are sick are the body fighting off an infection or virus. As you can see from the picture, our immune system is spread out across multiple organ systems and found throughout the body. Click the button below to learn an overview of the immune system.
What can I do to protect my immune system?
Some diet and lifestyle factors can influence our immune system. Exercise, a healthy diet, and getting plenty of sleep can be beneficial. According to Harvard Health, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is your first line of defense. Healthy living strategies that Harvard recommends include:
• A diet high in fruits and vegetables
• Regular exercise
• Drink alcohol only in moderation
• Get enough sleep
• Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly
• Minimize stress
• Stay hydrated
Can supplements help immunity?
Vitamins and supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet, but our bodies absorb vitamins and nutrients better from food sources. However, if you do want to add in vitamins and supplements, make sure that they are from a reputable brand that undergoes third party testing to ensure that you are getting exactly what you’re supposed to be.
What vitamins and supplements are best for immunity?
Vitamin C is the biggest vitamin associated with immunity. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick. The body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C, so we must get it from our diets or supplements.
Research has shown that vitamin D plays a larger role in immune health than was previously thought. Clinical studies in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics showed that vitamin D significantly decreases the risk of respiratory infections.
Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. It can be found in chicken, salmon, tuna, green vegetables, and chickpeas. It is also available as a supplement or part of a B-complex supplement.
Zinc is a mineral that may help shorten the duration of rhinovirus colds. Symptoms such as nasal congestion, nasal drainage, sore throat, and cough appear to resolve sooner with zinc supplementation. Taking
zinc within 24 hours of symptoms starting leads to the fastest recovery. Do not take more than the recommended dose of zinc as it can lead to zinc toxicity in the body.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new supplement to avoid any potential interactions.