20 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

RELATED ARTICLES

Mushrooms: These 3 Fungi Actually BOOST Your Immune System
Lower Your Risk of Getting the Flu Learn about strategies to keep from getting the flu, and how to recover quickly if you do get the bug. When it comes to mushrooms , your choices are many: One of the most promising areas of GSH research is the role that it plays in cancer. Glutathione GSH is a peptide consisting of three key amino acids that plays several vital roles in the body. If you feel the flu coming on, stay home from work and avoid close contact with others. Boost your immunity They say you are what you eat, so it makes sense that eating healthy foods can help you stay, er, healthy. Discover more tips on how to keep your immune system strong during the flu season by reading my recent blog post.

Explore Everyday Health

15 Foods That Boost the Immune System

The immune system is pretty complex. It is made up of several types of cells and proteins that are charged with keeping foreign invaders such as colds or flu at bay. This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.

In simple terms, sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function. Sleep loss not only plays a role in whether we come down with a cold or flu. It also influences how we fight illnesses once we come down with them.

For example, our bodies fight infection with fevers. But if we are not sleeping, our fever reaction is not primed, so we may not be waging war on infection as best we can. Studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived also get less protection from flu vaccines than those who are getting adequate sleep, Balachandran says.

Sleep loss also plays a roll in our ability to fight off serious health conditions. Research suggests that sleep-deprived people are at higher risk of dying from heart disease , according to Balachandran. CRP is a marker of inflammation, and inflammation may play a role in heart disease.

The caps contain more nutrients than the stems. This superstar mushroom contains beta 1,3-glucan , a polysaccharide that has potent immune-stimulating effects, 2 and a close relative of the beta 1,6 glucan found in Maitake see above. When beta glucans bind to immune system cells like NK cells, T-cells and macrophages, the activity of these cells is increased. Mushrooms are, after all fungus, and maybe the cells think the harmless little critters are dangerous.

It also appears to help inhibit tumor growth in mice. In traditional Chinese medicine, Reishi is still considered to be among the highest class of tonics. Even the conservative and highly regarded Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has Reishi mushroom listed on its website, stating that Reishi mushrooms stimulate the immune system through their positive effect on macrophages and other immune compounds.

Sloan-Kettering also references clinical studies showing that Reishi enhances the immune responses in advanced-stage cancer patients.

Reishi mushrooms appear to be a natural stress-buster. Roundtree, Reishi is the mushroom of choice for people under extreme physical or emotional stress. I almost omitted crimini mushrooms from the list completely—I mean, after all, how could these little prosaic mushrooms possibly hold a candle to the downright medicinal value of their famous siblings?

But crimini mushrooms are super dense with nutrients. Beta-glucan recognition by the innate immune system. The American Journal of Epidemiology reports that adults eating the most vitamin C-rich foods had far fewer asthmatic attacks than those eating little of these foods.

Drink a glass of orange juice for breakfast, and eat several slices of red peppers with your lunch and a cup of broccoli with dinner to provide a vitamin C boost to your body.

A new British study found that children eating an all- Asian diet had far fewer allergic symptoms than their schoolmates eating a typical Western diet. Many people suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, commonly to milk, wheat, peanuts and soy, although almost any food can trigger symptoms in certain people.

Food allergies like all allergies involve an over-reactivity of the immune system. Antibodies that are designed to protect us from disease for various reasons can react against proteins in foods, causing injury to our tissues and symptoms of food allergy such as bloating, headaches, hives and diarrhea. Of course, unlike inhaled allergens such as ragweed or tree pollen, food allergens enter the body through the intestinal tract.

The gut is ordinarily lined with an antibody called IgA, which helps attack food allergens that inappropriately "leak" across the mucosal surfaces of the intestine and cause trouble. Trans-fatty acids, found in all hydrogenated oils, appear to encourage this destructive permeability of the intestine. People with food sensitivities have unusually low levels of IgA in their blood.

And stress, besides its many effects on the immune system, can decrease the amount of IgA. This may help explain why allergies are often worse during high-stress periods. There are many other immune system reactions involving the four other major types of antibodies as well as T-cells that can come into play in food allergies of various types. In addition, there are food "sensitivities" that, although they are not technically allergies, cause similar symptoms.

Some foods contain substances such as histamine or other amino acids that can cause reactions in the blood vessels, leading to allergy-like symptoms. Whether our unpleasant symptoms are caused by a true food allergy or by food sensitivities of various kinds, a dietary scheme known as the "rotation diet" can be helpful.

This diet does not prescribe or forbid any particular food; rather, it suggests that we avoid eating the same foods or food groups every day. The idea behind this is that the body can become over-sensitized to certain food components if it has to deal with them constantly, whereas if it has to metabolize them only infrequently not more often than every four days it is less likely to develop a sensitivity or allergy to them. Theoretically, the body completely clears any food substance within 3 days.

The main rule of thumb with the rotation diet is to try to vary your foods from day to day, particularly foods that are common allergens: For example, if you tend to have food allergies, it's probably wise to rotate your morning orange juice with apple and other juices and fruits. Also, try substituting corn bread or rice crackers for wheat toast.

The diet is certainly helpful in avoiding the development of new food sensitivities. With already existing sensitivities, if they are not severe, you could try eating a small portion of the offending food not more frequently than every four or five days.

Some people can avoid triggering reactions this way, while others will have to completely remove allergy-provoking foods from their diets. Botanically speaking, foods belong to families. If you are sensitive to one member of a family, it is best to avoid other members as well during the 4-day break from your allergen. For example, people sensitive to potatoes should avoid too frequent consumption of eggplant, tomatoes and peppers -- all members of the same family.

And if cashews cause symptoms, be careful with their botanical cousins, mango and pistachio. Lists of plant families are available in many nutrition books. The information provided is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to review the original article, and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.

The article on this Life Alert website and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. You are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work; to make derivative works; to make commercial use of the work -- under the following conditions: Attribution -- You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for more information on the CC license that applies to this work. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors. For more information about Life Alert and its many services and benefits for seniors — available in New York, California, Florida, and other states nationwide -- please visit the following websites: The Immune System, Part One: Don Rose -- Introduction Your immune system is your personal defense system against attack of all kinds from viruses, bacteria, toxins and other enemies.

Foods that lower immunity Fats - particularly polyunsaturated oils such as corn and safflower oils - weaken our immune system in many ways. Foods that boost immunity Vegetarian diet. More immune-boosting dietary items Garlic. Herbs and immunity Several herbs have extensive folk histories that indicate they can help us fight a variety of diseases. What is an allergy?

Video of the Day