How to build a healthy immune system
We’d love to tell you there’s a magic bullet for building an immune system that scares all germs away, but like most things when it comes to building whole-body health, sadly, there’s no such thing. But there is some good news! By cultivating a few specific healthy habits, and kicking a few unhealthy ones to the curb, there is evidence your body will have your back (so to speak) when it comes to giving germs the heave-ho.
While there’s always been a focus on vitamins impacting our bodies’ immune systems (and for good reason—there’s lots of science to back up their positive impact on keeping us healthy), it turns out reaching for your running shoes may be a key trick for strengthening your immunity!
- There’s no magic bullet for an impenetrable immune system, but there are ways to make sure yours stays in top shape.
- Vitamins like C, E, and zinc can help your immune system.
- Eat your vitamins! Foods that boast immunity-boosting vitamins like citrus fruits, poultry, and veggie like broccoli are perfect to pack onto your plate.
- Pump up the cardio: regular exercise has immunity-boosting effects, essentially training our bodies to mobilize virus fighters!
- If you’re eating well and exercising but still want to support your immunity, you can try supplements.
- Do your homework before you supplement shop! ConsumerLab.com has a rigorous quality test for many brands of supplements.
- Humblebrag: ConsumerLab.com named CocoaVia™ their Top Rated Flavanol Product for highest flavanol level and overall quality
Why Exercise Might be Key to Boosting Your Immune System
There’s emerging evidence from the American College of Sports Medicine that whole-body, dynamic, cardio-building exercise may help protect you from getting sick, and help you recover faster if you do get sick. How so?
Exercise primes your body via the low-grade inflammatory response it creates, mobilizing billions of immune cells that are looking for a virus to fight. These exercise-mobilized fighters seem to make us more resistant to infection and better equipped to deal with any bugs that attack!
In other words, putting a certain level of “controlled stress” on our bodies with regular exercise primes us in the art of building resilience. When your immune system is challenged with a real threat (aka, a cold or the flu) it has plenty of practice on how to get better!
Ready to prime your personal immune bodyguard by pumping up the cardio? Try these exercises recommended by the American Heart Association:
- Running or jogging
- Brisk walking
- Climbing stairs
If you have access to a pool, swimming’s another great option! Whatever exercises you choose, beginners should start with 10 to 15 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, gradually building up to at least 150 minutes per week. Already a regular at the gym? Build your endurance by going longer distances, injecting a brisker pace when you can!
Foods that Help Build & Support Your Immune System
Exercise is amazing, but it shouldn’t get all the glory when it comes to building a healthy immune system! Fruits, veggies, and your beloved morning OJ (for starters) are still winners when it comes to staying well. That’s because certain foods are packed with vitamins like zinc and vitamins C and E—the undisputed superstars of maintaining a healthy immune system.
A healthy diet is one of the best ways to feel your best, and you can read more about eating well to stay well in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
If you’re looking for foods you can eat to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need for a strong immune system, try adding these to your menu:
Oranges and Grapefruits
Packed with vitamin C, citrus fruits and their juices can help boost your immune system. Strawberries and cantaloupe are A+ for C (vitamin C, that is) too!
Broccoli, tomatoes and Potatoes (oh my!)
Broccoli and tomatoes can boost vitamins C and E, both of which are great for boosting your immune system. Baked potatoes can bring the C, too!
Oysters, poultry and red meat
Can you believe oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food? It’s true! But don’t discount poultry or red meat – they provide the majority of zinc (a well-known immune booster) in the American diet!
Some foods and beverages like cereals and dairy products are fortified with vitamins—check product labels for information!
Supplements that boost your immune system
You’re getting in your cardio workouts and your plate is chock full of vitamin-boosting foods—what else can you do to take the very best care of your body?
There are lots of supplements on the market that boast immunity-boosting powers, and if you’re concerned you aren’t getting enough vitamins through diet alone, consider adding a supplement to your daily regimen. Here are a few to consider:
An immunity powerhouse, vitamin C does everything from keeping your skin healthy to keeping the immune system functioning at its best so it can protect our bodies from disease.
Not feeling your best? Grab some zinc! There’s evidence that zinc may help your immune system fight a good fight. More research is needed to determine the right amount, but there’s no doubt that zinc plays an important role in immune function.
To be in top shape, you need E in your corner. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in healthy immune function. Check the amounts carefully on vitamin-E-only supplements: according to the NIH, these can provide amounts substantially higher than the RDAs.
Cocoa Flavanol Supplements to Help Boost & Support Your Immune System
You’re taking all the smart steps to keep your immune system healthy: eating well, exercising, and taking supplements when you need to fill an immunity gap. The other smart move? Remembering to take care of all the systems in your body—like your cardiovascular system! One of the best supplements to support your cardiovascular health (and your whole body, from head to toe!) is with CocoaVia™ cocoa flavanol supplements.
Supplements can be an easy, convenient way to make sure you’re supporting your immunity and supporting your health from head to toe! But buyer beware: because the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements does not test, analyze or rate supplements, it recommends doing your homework before you buy any supplement. The NIH ODS also suggests consulting independent organizations like ConsumerLab.com that offer seals of approval to brands that pass their rigorous quality tests.