The question of how to boost the immune system naturally is only answered with the use of immune system boosting foods. A weak immune system is commonly referred to as lowered resistance. Fundamentally there are two functions of the immune system, which are vital to the survival of any living organism:
- Identification of all types of microorganisms and foreign substances that are potentially dangerous (chemical products, dust, other living cells, and the body’s cells that have deteriorated by a genetic mutation that could lead to cancer if allowed to develop).
- Destruction of these organisms, substances, or foreign cells.
The immune system boosting foods described in this article contribute in special ways to the proper function of this complex defense system.
Contributors to a weakened immune system: These vary widely, and in some cases are unknown. These are some of the most common:
- Under or malnourishment. Lack of any essential nutrient, particularly the vitamins and trace elements noted here, can reduce the body’s immune capabilities.
- Stress, either physical or psychological.
- Chemotherapy (anti-cancer medication).
- Infectious diseases.
- Various congenital or hereditary disorders.
- Aids: Immune system deficiency caused by a viral attack on the body’s defense mechanisms.
Manifestations of a weakened immune system: frequent infections, particularly viral, cancer.
Immune System Boosting Foods
ANTIOXIDANTS: The body requires antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals generated as a consequence of infections, stress, pollution, and the body’s metabolic processes. Free radicals reduce the body’s resistance capacity. Provitamin A, vitamins C and E, and flavonoids are the most powerful antioxidants. Plant-based foods are the only source of these nutrients, which are essential to the proper functioning of the immune system.
PROTEINS: The antibodies that the body produces to combat microorganisms and foreign substances are formed of proteins. A protein-poor diet weakens the immune system. There is a myth that only animal-based proteins can strengthen the system. Nevertheless, properly combined vegetable proteins also provide the amino acids required by the body to synthesize antibodies and other proteins.
TRACE ELEMENTS: Zinc, selenium, copper and other trace elements are essential to activate the enzymes that synthesize antibodies. Molasses, sesame, and wheat germ are good sources of trace elements, which makes them essential among the list of immune system boosting foods.
CITRUS FRUITS: Citrus fruits provide vitamin C and flavonoid phytochemicals, which increase the defensive capacity of the leukocytes (white blood cells). Citrus fruits are amazing immunity boosting foods for kids.
OILS: Seed oils contain linoleic acid, which is necessary for the formation of antibodies. They also supply vitamin E, which also improves immunity.
PROPOLIS: This antibiotic substance produced by bees reinforces the body’s resistance to infection.
ROYAL JELLY: This general tonic stimulates all body functions, including the immune system.
YOGURT: Biotic yogurts that contain live bacterial cultures protect the intestinal mucosa and increase resistance to infection. They also strengthen the body’s general immune response.
ACEROLA: The American acerola is among the most vitamin C-rich fruits that boost immune system, it contains up to 50 times more than lemons, which makes it superior to the other immune system boosting foods on this list. The azarole, or Mediterranean variety, which belongs to a different species, is also rich in vitamin C, but not to the same extent. Vitamin C reinforces the immune system by increasing the capabilities of the white blood cells and promoting the production of interferon (an antiviral protein).
KIWI: Because of their vitamin C and trace element content, kiwis stimulate the body’s disease-resistance mechanisms.
TOMATO: Tomatoes are rich in antioxidant carotenoids (provitamin A) and minerals that build the body’s defense system.
ALFALFA: Alfalfa sprouts are rich in minerals and trace elements that stimulate the synthesis of antibodies.
Foods That Weaken Immune Systems
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Alcohol depresses many body functions, including the immune function. Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages diminishes the body’s ability to resist disease.
WHITE SUGAR: A diet rich in refined sugar and products made with it reduces the body’s capacity to resist infection. Sugar is one of the main foods that weaken immune systems.
SHELLFISH: Shellfish often contain toxins, bacteria, and viruses that threaten the immune system. Shellfish consumption is extremely dangerous when the immune system is compromised and can result in very serious infections. Although they provide zinc and other trace elements, it is preferable to use other, safer sources such as molasses, sesame, squash, and nuts.
TOTAL FAT: The defensive action of the immune system is compromised when there is excess fat in the diet, more than 30% of total caloric intake.
COFFEE: There is a suspicion that coffee is among the list of foods that weaken immune systems. It should be eliminated in cases of lowered resistance.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 350-351.[immune system boosting foods]