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Ten Home Remedies for Boosting Your Immunity

The immune system keeps us healthy by recognizing dangerous cells and fighting them within the body. The immune system works in part by distinguishing between normal, healthy cells and cells which are foreign, unhealthy, or compromised. In order to stay healthy and keep illnesses at bay, the immune system needs support through vitamins and minerals, a varied diet, and a healthy lifestyle. Here are ten tips to make your own remedies with herbs to boost the immune system and keep your natural defenses up against pathogens and disease.


Caitlin S.

Staff Writer

I hold two Bachelors of Science degrees in Molecular Biosciences and Psychology from the Pre-Medicine program at Washington State University. I have spent the last decade researching health and lifestyle through an alternative and holistic approach. I love to share my research and ideas with others!

1. Eat a Varied and Colorful Diet

Leafy greens and deeply colored fresh produce are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals which support the immune system. You should aim to “eat the rainbow” and seek out produce and herbs in every color. Many brightly colored foods, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, and spinach contain massive amounts of vitamin C. 

Listed below are the most common foods that boost immunity. You should aim to eat foods in all these colors.

  • Red: Bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries 
  • Pink: Grapefruit, dragon fruit, radishes, raspberries
  • Purple: Concord grapes, plums, eggplant
  • Blue: Blueberries, elderberries, blackberries
  • Green: Limes, broccoli, spinach, green tea, kiwi
  • Yellow: Lemons, ginger, turmeric
  • Orange: Oranges, tangerines, clementines, papaya, carrots
  • White: Garlic, yogurt
  • Brown: Almonds, sunflower seeds, mushrooms

2. Get Enough Vitamin D

It can be tough to get the full recommended amount of vitamin D from food sources. In fact, it is estimated that 90 percent of American adults are vitamin D deficient, and a 2012 pediatric study concluded that all children should be tested for vitamin D levels due to the likelihood of deficiency and the side effects that come from it. Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to a weak immune system as well as poor bone growth and cardiovascular problems. 

You can get this vitamin by eating egg yolks, mushrooms, and fish, and the human body does produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, although people with darker skin do not get vitamin D as easily this way. Many people need to take a supplement to get the daily recommended vitamin D.

3. Drink Green Tea

Many kinds of teas support immune function by containing flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. But while both green and black teas are packed full of flavonoids, green tea comes in first place for supporting immune function because it also contains a high level of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another potent antioxidant which supports immune function and health. Black tea is processed, which destroys any EGCG it may have contained, making it a less effective option for those seeking a boost in immunity. Green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which aids in the production of T cells within the immune system.

4. Take Selenium

Selenium is a mineral that is vitally essential for immune health. Studies have found that selenium enhances the body’s antiviral defense mechanisms and aids in the body’s ability to attack multiple influenza strains. One or two brazil nuts per day can give you the daily recommended value of selenium to keep your immune system in top shape. Depending on where you live, brazil nuts may be difficult to find. Selenium is easily absorbed by the body when taken as a supplement, so many people prefer to get their daily dose of selenium that way instead.

5. Add Elderberry to Your Diet

Elderberries contain both antibacterial and antiviral properties and have been historically used to improve immune health. Studies have found that elderberry extract can shorten the duration and reduce the severity of colds and flus. 

6. Eat Medicinal Mushrooms

There are nearly 300 different types of mushrooms which are classified as having medicinal value. Some of the most common mushrooms for immune health include cordyceps, reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail, shitake, and maitake. A significant number of studies have looked at the immune system benefits of mushrooms. Research supports medicinal mushrooms’ ability to prevent, treat, and/or lessen the severity of many conditions related to immune function and inflammation, including tuberculosis, asthma, lung infections, cancer, and low white blood cell levels. Depending on where you live, some of these mushrooms can be tricky to find. So you might consider a tincture, tea, or supplement to benefit from medicinal mushrooms.

7. Try Fermented Foods or Add a Probiotic to Your Diet

Gut health is directly tied to the immune system, and researchers have found that having the appropriate levels of beneficial gut bacteria can help your immune system differentiate healthy bacteria and cells from foreign pathogens and organisms. The best sources of fermented foods for immune function include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha. You can also take a probiotic supplement to help keep gut flora in check.

8. Eat More Healthy Fats

Inflammation is directly related to poor immune function. Healthy fats, like those found in plant-based oils and oily fish, can boost the immune system by reducing inflammation. Olive oil has been linked to a decreased risk of certain diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish such as salmon, have also been found to fight inflammation and aid in fighting off bacteria and viruses.

9. Take Care of Yourself

This one is not really a home remedy, but it is good advice for keeping your immune system in top shape. 

  • Stay active: Even mild to moderate exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation and accelerate the circulation of white blood cells which fight diseases including colds.
  • Get a good night’s rest: During sleep, the body releases a type of protein, called cytokines, to help regulate the immune system and fight infection.
  • Keep your stress under control: Cortisol, the main stress hormone produced in the brain, has a direct effect of inflammation and immune system function. Adding yoga or meditation to your daily routine can help keep your stress levels in check.
  • Quit smoking and drinking: Smoking decreases the number and efficiency of immune cells and carbon monoxide smoke reduces oxygen levels in the blood. Studies have found that alcohol consumption can damage dendritic cells, an important part of the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. 
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands before eating or touching your face and after touching shared objects, such as door handles, office equipment, card readers at the store, etc. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, utensils, and drinks. Wash commonly used items often, such as children’s toys.

10. Take an Immunity-Boosting Supplement

It can seem impossible to add all these foods to your daily diet. A healthy supplement can bridge the gap and ensure you get the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your immune system functioning. Look for supplements that are plant-based and contain vital vitamins and minerals. One easy way to ensure that you are getting the best immunity-boosting formula available is to find one supplement that contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, plants, herbs, and mushrooms.


The Bottom Line

The immune system serves a vitally important function of the body, keeping us healthy and functioning. There are many simple dietary and lifestyle changes that can help to bolster the immune system, and the best results come from using a variety of these methods. One easy way to access many of the foods on this list is to add a plant-based supplement derived from multiple sources which contain vitamins and minerals that support immune function.

References

  1. 15 Foods That Boost the Immune System: Citrus, Bell Peppers & More (healthline.com)
  2. Cold & Flu Prevention: The Secrets to Never Getting Sick (healthline.com)
  3. 7 Delicious Blue Fruits with Powerful Health Benefits (healthline.com)
  4. The Effects of Smoking on Your Respiratory System (healthfully.com)
  5. 9 Tips to Strengthen Your Immunity Naturally (healthline.com)

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