Returning to work or school can feel a bit scary after over a year of staying home, and not just cause we aren't used to interacting with other human beings. The best way to prevent sickness is by boosting your immunity naturally. Wondering how to improve your immune system fast? These five tips will help.
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Our immunity is our body's ability to fight off a foreign organism, like an infection or a virus. When your body senses a foreign substance, our immune response is to produce antibodies. Antibodies fight the germs, which we call antigens. When your immunity is at its strongest, you produce more antibodies, which means you have more good guys fighting on your side.
So if your “it’s just allergies” coworker takes a sip of your coffee accidentally, or that guy on the subway wasn’t covering his mouth while coughing, you have a lesser chance of their antigens taking over your body and getting you sick.
Immune Boosters for Adults
As you age, your immune response decreases. This is why it's especially important for the elderly to improve their immunity through diet because they are more susceptible to lasting damage and even fatality through common sicknesses like colds and the flu. But don't worry – this article's chock full of immunity boosters for adults and kids, alike.
Ok, so if a strong immune system is the goal, how can you get there? Well, look to your plate!
You can boost your immunity naturally (AKA create more antibodies) by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet. Diets that promote 5-6 servings of fruits and veggies a day are proven to boost your immune response and antibody production.
While both fruits and veggies lessen your chances of getting sick, the best "antiviral diet" is when they're eaten in combination.
And when it comes to quantity, the more the better! The consumption of more than 6 servings of fruits and veggies was associated with an even higher immunity response (go figure)!
A whole food plant-based diet (healthy vegan diet) consistently contains the most servings of fruits and veggies of any diet and therefore is the best diet for immunity boosting.
1. Eat Foods High in Antioxidants (AKA Fruits and Veggies!)
Let’s take tomatoes for instance.
This nightshade is an absolute superfood. Not only are tomatoes delicious, they also contain compounds that prevent sun damage, have been associated with a lower chance of cancer, and can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Tomatoes also have incredible immunity-boosting compounds making them a great addition to any antiviral diet. In one study, subjects stopped including fruits and veggies from their diet. No surprise: their immune response plummeted. But by adding just 1 ½ cups of tomato juice a day to their nutrient-deficient diet, they were able to stabilize their immunity to where they were before they took fruits and veggies out altogether.
But let’s not stop at tomatoes. Did you know red peppers contain 100% of your RDA of vitamin C? Did you know pumpkin seeds contain zinc which is immunity boosting? Did you know that mushrooms, our favorite edible fungi increase our antibody production?! Stick to mainly plant foods to see real immunity boosting results.
2. Drink Lots of Water
Drinking water will keep your body hydrated and help you to flush out toxins from your kidneys and body. Try to drink eight glasses a day, minimum. Not a fan of drinking water? Try herbal teas, lemon water, or add a small splash of cherry, cranberry or grape juice to your water to flavor it slightly.
3. Get Your Blood Pumping (Outside!)
Exercise can actually help prevent communicable diseases and sickness. Studies shows us that by exercising, you can actually prevent sickness including COVID-19. Try to get your heart rate up for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. Exercising outside in the sunlight can give you a vitamin D boost, which is essentially for a boosted immune system. Outdoor exercise is also associated with increased mood and can work stronger than depression medication.
4. Avoid Refined Sugar and Animal Products
Refined sugar and animal products cause inflammation. Antioxidants found in plant foods prevent inflammation. Your body works hard to fight inflammation, and inflammation can reduce your immunity response.
Stress can cause inflammation and reduce your immunity response. Try meditating for even just 5 minutes at a time. Follow an online guided yoga flow, or even take a walk outside. If you aren’t able to get out for a walk, try 3 deep breaths when you’re starting to get stressed out.
Want to learn how to improve your immune system? Start by eating plenty of fruits and veggies! (Need help getting started? Order ready-made plant-based meals from MamaSezz – no cooking required!)
Then drink lots of water.
Avoid junk food.
Exercise in the sunlight
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.