With the winter months here so are illnesses that get spread throughout your work, home, or children schools. To fight off the common cold, flu, or even help with prevention of disease it is important to maintain a well balanced diet with the appropriate nutrients. Our immune system is a powerful thing that can help fight different kinds of pathogens and viruses but it all starts with a healthy gut and maintaining it.
Start with Gut Health
Before you even start to think about adding in specific nutrients to help with increasing immune system function you must first start by revamping your gut health. If we do not have optimal gut health there is no way we can absorb the nutrient at its utmost. Therefore with an unhealthy gut its pretty much nonsense to even start supplementing anything.
A good way to start increasing immune function of the gut is to increase your healthy micro biome by adding in healthy gut flora via probiotics. They have a role in the GI tract to reinforce the barrier function of the intestinal lining which lowers the chance of bad bacteria to get into the intestines or even further into the blood stream. They can also help to keep inflammation out of the gut which in turn boosts the immune system. I choose those with at least 50 billion strains or more, but be aware it depends on the way your body reacts and handles these. There are also some foods that have probiotic properties which will be mentioned later on in this post.
Protein: this works as part of a defense mechanism for the body. The antibodies that help to fight off the disease or illness are actually made up of protein. Food Sources- lean meats, chicken, fish, pea protein, beans, and eggs.
Vitamin A: actually helps with the regulation of the immune system and protects from infections due to its function of keeping the skin and tissues healthy. Food Sources- carrots, sweet potato, kale spinach, red bell pepper, apricots, and eggs.
Vitamin C: protects your body from infection by stimulating the formation of antibodies and boosting immunity. Food Sources- oranges, grapefruits, tangerine, red bell pepper, papaya, kiwi, strawberries, and tomato juice.
Vitamin D: could modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses
Vitamin E: functions as an antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals and many improve immune function. Food sources- sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower oil, hazelnuts, and peanut butter.
Zinc: is in charge of making sure the immune system works properly and may help wounds heal. Food Sources- lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds, and nuts.
An awesome vitamin I would suggest that has most of the vitamins I have mentioned is in this great article by: barbend.com. The vitamin is called ritual essential vitamin and is reviewed in-depth here below in this link.
Ginger: is an anti inflammatory which can reduce a sore throat, nausea, chronic pain, and other illnesses.
Turmeric: an anti inflammatory to help treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Pre/Probiotics: Food Sources- plain greek yogurt, kefir, supplement, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Bone Broth: Thanks to the amino acids found in the broth they reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and boost the immune system.
Green Tea: flavonoids in both green and black teas work as an antioxidant which enhance immune function. This super tea also contains the amino acid Theanine which is responsible for aiding in the production of germ fighting compounds in your T-cells
Mushrooms: All are great for the immune system but a select five are your best bet when it comes to combating a disease or illness.
- Chaga- is the number one mushroom to boost immunity. I take this daily to help fight anything that comes my way. This super shroom is known for its highest quantity of antioxidants making it one of the best to have on a daily basis to fight against environmental and food toxins that we come in contact with on a daily basis.
- Maitake- Have a type of sugar called beta glucans that work to stimulate the immune system and activate certain cells and protein to attack cancer and pathogens.
- Shiitake- also contain the beta glucans that help to combat inflammation, bad bacteria, harmful viruses, and attack tumors. They also contain B vitamins ( B2, B5, and B6) which keep the body metabolizing efficiently. Last but not least they contain selenium, copper,manganese, and zinc that all work as a defense against oxidative stress, thyroid deregualtion, and inflammation.
- Reishi- Another that can boost immunity but is most noted for beating or preventing the flu.
- Lions Mane- yet again another immune system booster but also has a great effect on brain and nerve health. This super mushroom is also known for its help with fighting inflammation especially in the joints.
- Cordyceps- these enhance energy, longevity, and a better quality of life. These can also boost the metabolism and aid in helping with adrenal fatigue.
Echinacea: is an herb that acts as a protectant against most common colds. Therefore it is good to take or drink this tea when you feel the onset of a cold or are exposed to this.
Oregano: a strong anti bacterial and anti microbial that is mostly used in the form of an oil fights strong against colds especially in the sense of a sore throat.
Elderberry: a berry that is known to boost the immune system and a wide array of health benefits which include its ability to fight colds, the flu, allergies, and inflammation.
Collodial Silver: a broad spectrum antimicrobial agent, that can significantly inhibit the growth of bacteria growth.