Getting sick never makes it onto anyone’s to-do list. But it still happens. One day your productivity is through the roof, the next you’re lying in bed hugging a box of tissues wishing you had a nickel for every time you sneezed or coughed.
Some folks rush to the doctor to get whatever they can to get them back in the game, while others choose the wait-it-out approach, hoping their immune system will do its job.
Some rarely get sick while others can’t seem to stay well. At the end of the day it comes down to immunity.
Many have heard the common sniffle-prevention advice before: Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and wash your hands frequently. This is good advice.
However, few give thought to just how important food is for wellness. In fact, many foods are packed with essential vitamins for immune support. It seems that Hippocrates had it right: Let food be thy medicine.
Let’s dive a little deeper into some of these immune support foods and vitamins, shall we?
The Immune System at a Glance
The reasons for getting sick can be many: Stress, inadequate sleep, nutrition, etc. But to understand the role of foods and vitamins in immune system support we must first understand the immune system itself.
The Immune System and How It Works
In short, the immune system is essentially the self-defense system of the body. It protects against unwanted toxins and various germs. In a healthy body, the immune system is very active and works around the clock.
It is also extremely complex and comprises various organs, tissues, and a wide range of cells. Each works in tandem with the other. When one is out of whack, the whole system suffers. There are two types of immunity within the body: Innate and adaptive immunity.
Innate Immune System
Innate immunity is first on the scene during the immune response. Its primary responsibility is to launch an immediate, but non-specific attack against pathogens. It brings with it a host of white blood cells (macrophages and natural killer cells) and signaling cells (cytokines) during immune response.
Adaptive Immune System
Whereas the innate immune response is non-specific, the adaptive immune system is responsible for targeted, specific attacks on pathogens, using white blood cells known as dendritic cells and lymphocytes (B and T cells).
Again, many systems in the body work together in immunity and many are dependent on various vitamins and minerals to aid in the immune response. Many of these come to us through dietary means; through the foods we eat or the supplements we take.
Wellness Foods and Vitamins for Immune Support
As noted, the immune system is beyond essential for overall health and wellness and is a formidable shield to ward off sickness. That is why feeding your body with the proper immune-supporting foods and vitamins is so important.
Let’s take some time to highlight a few wellness foods and vitamins that can aid in immune system support.
Citrus Fruits and Vitamin C
If you’ve been paying attention to nutrition advice surrounding the immune system then citrus fruits will come as no surprise to you. Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes are just some of the citrus fruits that can play a big role in overall immune health.
The reason citrus fruits are important for immune support is obvious to most: Vitamin C. When many people think of warding off the common cold they think of orange juice and Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a natural, water-soluble essential nutrient. It also goes by the lesser known name: Ascorbic acid. Water soluble vitamins are not stored within the body and humans are unable to produce them naturally. That is where the oranges come in.
Vitamin C, like all essential vitamins, must be consumed through diet, whether through food or supplementation. Vitamin C is needed for the repair and growth of tissues, protein formation, and immune health.
Vitamin C and Immune Support
Vitamin C is a key player in immune support due to its antioxidant properties. It helps the fight against oxidative stress; which can ravage the body’s cells. A few immune function properties of Vitamin C include:
- Helps protect immune cells against potential oxidative damage from germs.
- Stimulates the production of white blood cells (WBC); enhancing the proliferation of T cell and B cells (lymphocytes).
- Supports the production of certain proteins (interferons) that get released during immune response, e.g. Immune signaling cells called cytokines.
Vitamin C can also be found in other foods such as bell peppers, spinach, kale, and broccoli.
Other Vitamins for Immune Support
Vitamin C is perhaps the most popular vitamin when it comes to immune support, but it is not the only one. Vitamin B6, found in many animal proteins, also supports immune cell production. Other vitamins such as vitamin A, E, and D also have important immune-supporting and antioxidant properties.
Another wellness food for immune support is elderberry. In fact, elderberry has been used for centuries in traditional herbal medicine. Its juice was used to make wines, syrups and even vinegars can help to support overall health.
Elderberry and Immune Support
Elderberry is known for its vast antioxidant properties as it contains vitamin C, various flavonols, phenolic acids, and anthocyanins. Together these antioxidants pack a punch against oxidative stress and harmful free radicals.
In terms of research, one meta-analysis review showed elderberry supplementation helped reduce symptoms of upper respiratory issues such as nasal congestion, cough, and runny nose.
Other Herbal Immune Boosters
There are various other wellness foods — plants and herbs — that have also been found useful as immune support boosters. Here are a few:
Get your root on for immune support. The astragalus plant root is an immuno-modulating herb that has been shown to help support the immune system by helping fight off certain germs, and helps to regulate white blood cell production.
This antimicrobial herb is not only great for warding off vampires, but it can play an essential role in digestive and immune health, helping combat certain infections. It is known to have allicin and it is responsible for its therapeutic effects. It has shown to be a helpful ally against certain germs like E coli and salmonella.
Another wellness superfood is moringa, also known as the drumstick tree or miracle tree. It makes for a potent immune booster due to its high antioxidant content. It is also rich in essential vitamins, such as vitamin A, C, and vitamin B6.
Our food provides us with benefits that go beyond taste. Many wellness foods are packed with essential immune support vitamins we need to save on tissue boxes. However, sometimes dietary restrictions or other issues can keep us from getting the immune support we need from our foods; sometimes supplementation is necessary.
So, if you’re looking for a well-rounded immune booster, Shop Hope has you covered. We use an all-natural formula consisting of elderberry, vitamin C, and moringa in our Immune+ Organic supplements. It is non-GMO, organic, and 100% cruelty-free.
Your immune system works hard for you around the clock — sometimes it needs a little boost.