5 Easy Ways to Pump Up Your Immune System
Why do some people catch colds, the flu and other bugs while others don’t? It has a lot to do with your immune system, a collection of tissues, cells, proteins and organs that work together to help the body prevent the infectious diseases and illnesses that can make us sick.
Some health conditions can compromise our immunity, including severe allergies, immunodeficiency disorders (IgA deficiency, HIV), autoimmune diseases (such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis), and some forms of cancer.
Regardless of your current health status, everyone could use an immunity boost from time to time—but especially during cold and flu season. Add these immunity lifters to your regimen:
Citrus fruits and their juices are good sources of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that boosts the immune system. This vitamin increases the production of white cells and interferon, an antibody that stops viruses from entering cells. It is also an antioxidant that helps to reduce free radicals, which can disrupt the immune system. Eat a fresh orange or drink a glass of unsweetened juice every day—or consider a vitamin C supplement if that’s not practical.
Green leafy veggies are packed with antioxidants that keep your immune system running like a well-oiled machine. They are filled with carotenoids, including beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to strengthen your immunity levels. Broccoli, spring greens, cabbage, spinach and sprouts are all good sources of these carotenoids, but kale is especially good—and it's loaded with vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that helps keep the immune system strong.
Fend off nasty bugs by swapping white, processed carbohydrates for whole grain cereals, bread, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. These beneficial grains stimulate the production of good bacteria and increase resistance to disease.
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that boost immunity by ensuring white cells and antibodies are ready to attack if they're needed.
Vitamin E stimulates cells that destroy germs and enhances the production of immune cells that produce antibodies. Wheat germ oil, almonds and turnip greens are all good sources of Vitamin E.
Having trouble fitting any of these foods into your diet? There are natural supplements containing these nutrients to strengthen your immune system.