How to Support Your Immune Function
By Amy Sunderman, MS, RD
If you're wondering how to support a healthy immune response, these quick tips and picks may be the edge you're looking for. Here is a rundown of our experts’ top selection and habits for a healthy immune system during the cold months.
Studies have found that elderberry can supply the body with an additional boost of antioxidants, increasing your natural immune response and supporting a healthy resilience.1
Research indicates a higher supply of vitamin C may support several immune system parameters, including maintenance of cellular health and providing antioxidants to defend against oxidative stress.2
Along with its well-known bone building benefits, this nutrient also contributes to immune cell modulation and response, making the sunshine vitamin a hot pick year-round.
Dubbed as the “Gatekeeper of Immune Function,” this antioxidant functions in cellular signaling pathways. But researchers are certain that isn’t the extent of its immune-supporting superpowers.3 Research into zinc’s effect on the immune system continues, specifically its role in responding to intruders.3
HOW TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY IMMUNE RESPONSE
1. SLOW DOWN, STRESS LESS
Take steps to reduce stress like taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music or practicing breathing exercises.
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY
Stay active by doing 30 minutes of physical activity a day to help your immune system fight back quicker when it faces an attack.
3. EAT A BALANCED DIET
Reach for immune-supporting foods like citrus fruit, sweet potato, poultry, dark leafy greens and low-fat yogurt.
4. STAY HYDRATED
Drinking plenty of water helps support healthy immune function by carrying oxygen to cells and by flushing out toxins in the body.
5. GET ENOUGH RESTFUL SLEEP
Restful sleep helps your immune system release special proteins called cytokines that help fight off foreign invaders, shoot for 7 to 9 hours a night.
DID YOU KNOW?
Certain herbs and spices may boost your immune health in addition to adding flair to your food. Reach for herbal teas or include herbs and spices such as thyme, turmeric, ginger and garlic into your favorite recipes for added immune-boosting antioxidants.
If you enjoyed this quick read and want to know more, you might also like Benefits of Vitamin C and The Best Vitamin C Supplements to Try and Benefits of Elderberry.
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About Amy Sunderman, MS, RD
Director of Science & Innovation, Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health
Amy is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author with over 20 years of experience in the supplement industry. Amy is passionate about dietary supplements and the health benefits they offer. She enjoys working to find novel nutritional ingredients with strong clinical research behind them to drive innovation and provide health-promoting products to consumers.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1. Tiralongo, et al., Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Apr; 8(4): 182.
2. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
3. Zinc as the Gatekeeper of Immune Function. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29186856