6 Natural Ingredients That Boost Immune Function
The immune system is arguably the most important system in the body. It acts as a defense against harmful invaders that could cause illness and damage to all other areas of the body. Immunity uses two specific facets of the immune system to do its job – the innate and adaptive immune functions.
The innate system is non-specific (skin, cough reflex, stomach acid, etc.) and acts as our first line of defense against everything we’re exposed to from the moment we’re born. The adaptive response is grown over time and uses immunological memory to keep track of pathogens that the body has been exposed to previously. This makes it easier to fight off specific illnesses if your body is exposed to them again.
For the immune system to function properly, it needs all facets of the system to be in working order. This includes white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and bone marrow. All these key components make up how well the immune system works against pathogens. If any part is not in working order, it makes it that much harder to fight off infection.
How can I naturally boost my immune system?
If the immune system isn’t working at its best, there are things that you can do to make sure it reaches its full potential. Boosting the immune system naturally can be as easy as making a few lifestyle changes. One specific lifestyle change is getting enough sleep. Research has found that adequate levels of sleep can help to regulate the immune function within the body. Getting enough exercise is also a huge immune booster because it can encourage the flushing out of toxins from the lungs.
Stress levels can also play a vital role in immune function and research has shown that lowering stress levels through meditation, coping mechanisms, or finding ways to relax regularly can give the immune system the extra boost it needs. Staying hydrated, getting enough sunlight, and socializing with the ones you love can also have a positive impact on the way your immune system functions.
Supplements that boost the immune system
There are many supplements out there that can lead to heightened immunity. Vitamin C is one of those “holy grail” supplements that have been proven to be effective against immune dysfunction. When it comes to the immune system, the powerful antioxidant vitamin C lends aids in the cellular function of both the innate and adaptive immunity.
It also plays a role in the protection of epithelial barrier function, which makes it harder for pathogens to invade cells. When the body has enough vitamin C, phagocytic cells are able to do their job of ingesting dangerous foreign substances within the body to keep them from causing damage. Vitamin C can be found in supplement form in any grocery or food health store, or it can be found in foods such as red bell peppers, oranges and other citrus fruits, and kiwifruit.
Zinc is another essential nutrient that the body needs to complete a whale host of different bodily processes, including immune function. Zinc deficiency has been linked to premature death caused by a lack of proper immune function - some as young as 25. Zinc has such an effect on immune function because of the way it affects the efficiency of T-cells.
It also lends a hand in the development of cells that are required to mediate the innate immune response. When the body doesn’t have enough zinc, cytokine production can also suffer, leading to further weakening of the defenses. Zinc is a popular and widely available supplement and can be purchased at most grocery and health stores. Good food sources include red meat, poultry, and oysters.
Foods that boost the immune system
Elderberry is considered a superfood because it is both nutrient-rich and full of antioxidants, and since it is native to the Western United States, it can be easy to get hold of or even grow in your own backyard. Black elderberry products in particular have been shown to have a positive impact on both the severity and length of an influenza infection. It does this by acting as an antiviral.
The food is also rich in antioxidants such as phenolic acids. The high amounts of these antioxidants give the elderberry its ability to help restore balance and rectify oxidative stress. It has also been shown to be helpful in the prevention of certain illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
What herbs boost the immune system?
Echinacea is a group of flowering plants. The three of the nine species of echinacea used in medicine are the Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida. The plant is used to help boost the immune system because of its ability to reduce recovery time and assist in fighting off illness. Because it has high levels of antioxidants, such as flavonoids, cichoric acid, and rosmarinic acid, it can help modulate the immune system, leading to a more active ability to fight off infection.
Research has also found that echinacea can help reduce the risk of catching a cold entirely because it has preventative properties. This widely used herb is most commonly found in teas but it also comes in caplets, dried leaves, and liquid extracts.
Spices that boost the immune function
Spices aren’t only good for enhancing the flavor of certain foods - some of them have health-boosting benefits that shouldn’t be ignored. When it comes to immune function, turmeric and cinnamon are great additions to any diet to help keep immunity working as it should.
Turmeric is the spice that comes from the turmeric plant and it works by modulating the immune response. The component in the turmeric spice that works its magic on the immune system is the curcumin. The spice contains agents that can assist the body in the activation of T-cells, B-cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killers cells, and dendritic cells. It has also been shown to inhibit the overproduction of cytokines, which could lead to inflammation.
Cinnamon contains both antibacterial and antifungal properties that can lend a hand in the body’s natural immunity. It is loaded with antioxidants that the body needs to keep free radicals at bay, and can help ward off many types of infection within the body such as viral, fungal, or bacterial infections. The best type of cinnamon to use for its medicinal properties is Ceylon cinnamon, otherwise known as true cinnamon. True cinnamon can be found at many health food stores.
The immune system can be fickle and its health relies heavily on the lifestyle you lead. Using the aforementioned six ingredients can be a great help in avoiding illness or having a strong enough immune system to decrease the severity and length of illness to stay healthy all year round. GenBoost will soon be releasing a range of immunity-boosting supplements that utilize these incredible ingredients – sign up to our newsletter for updates on our launch!Featured image by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash