A diet to strengthen the immune system – 10 rules based on science

Immunity is the body's ability to resist the effects of any foreign agents (from bacteria, viruses and other infections to toxic substances coming from air and food).

The work of the immune system is often subject to failures, the main role in the development of which is played by an incorrect lifestyle and diet, bad habits.

According to scientists, in order to increase local and general immunity factors, it is necessary to adjust your diet. It has been proven that adding some food groups to the diet and excluding others helps strengthen the immune system as a whole.

We present to your attention 10 proven diet rules that will improve the functioning of the immune system and increase the body's resistance to foreign agents.

1. Give preference to low-fat protein foods

Proteins are amino acid compounds that are extremely important for the adequate synthesis and subsequent differentiation of white blood germ cells. With protein deficiency, there is a uniform decrease in all components of the immune system.

The U.S. Department of Health recommends eat the following foods: chicken and turkey breasts without skin and tendons, fish, shellfish, egg whites, beans.

Protein foods are especially important, according to scientists , for the production of immunoglobulins that provide immunity against viral and bacterial agents.

An ordinary person needs from 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per 1 kg of your weight per day. Persons who are engaged in regular sports activities – from 1.6 g/kg.

Proteins are necessary for the synthesis of cells of the immune system and the adequate functioning of the body's defense mechanisms.

2. Consume more beta-carotene

Beta-carotene helps strengthen the immune system by accelerating the production of lymphocytes.

Organic pigment is also effective in cancer prevention, reduces the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and their complications (stroke and myocardial infarction).

For full assimilation, it is necessary to combine the use of beta-carotene with fatty foods (about 3 g). Olive oil, rapeseed oil or balsamic vinegar are perfect.

Large doses of beta-carotene are found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, lettuce leaves, melon and dried apricots. It is possible to use specialized food additives.

Recall that earlier we considered9 Immune-boosting Foods .

Beta-carotene is important for the human body, as it increases the content of lymphocytes in the peripheral blood.

3. Add zinc and selenium to the diet

Zinc helps to increase the concentration of natural killer cells and T-link cells, accelerates the production and release of lymphocytes into the vascular bed.

Selenium stimulates the formation of all leukocyte cells in the red bone marrow .

Scientific research shows that with the simultaneous use of these trace elements, the effect of each increases significantly.

Large amounts of selenium and zinc, according to the US National Institutes of Health , found in mussels, oysters, fortified cereals, crab meat, lobsters, tuna, turkey, beef, beans.

Selenium and zinc must be included in the daily diet for the normal functioning of all immune factors.

4. Get enough vitamin C

Vitamin C increases the production of lymphocytes in the red bone marrow, has a positive effect on erythropoiesis.

Experiment by Swiss scientists has shown that the use of vitamin C (especially in combination with zinc) helps to accelerate recovery in viral diseases of the upper respiratory system (ARVI, influenza), and also reduces the duration of the clinical course of rhinitis, accompanied by rhinorrhea.

The human body is not able to accumulate and produce vitamin C, therefore, it must be obtained every day on a regular basis with food.

The most vitamin C-rich foods are: oranges, lemons, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, sweet peppers, broccoli, cabbage and spinach.

Vitamin C is an important element for maintaining low immunity and rapid recovery from viral pathologies.

5. Do not abuse alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing infectious diseases (especially from the lungs), disrupts the work of any protective barriers (skin, mucous membranes, liver, etc.).

In addition, according to scientists from the USA , alcohol abuse leads to a deficiency of essential nutrients that are essential for maintaining immunity .

It is important to note that in moderate amounts alcohol does not harm the immune system and the human body as a whole. Harvard Medical School cites the following alcohol consumption limits: women – 15 ml of pure ethanol per day, men – 30 ml.

Alcohol is one of the main enemies of the immune system. It is recommended to abandon it, if it is impossible, limit consumption as much as possible.

6. Eat more fruits and vegetables

One of the scientific studies showed that consuming fruits and vegetables on a regular basis increases the body's ability to produce antibodies against bacterial agents. The experiment was conducted on elderly people.

In addition, fruits and vegetables contain a huge amount of vitamins, macro- and microelements, which are quickly absorbed by the body.

It is recommended to add zucchini, turnips, green apples, oranges, plums, peaches, bananas, red grapes, cherries, cranberries, strawberries and black currants to food.

Fresh vegetables and fruits support the immune system and help a weakened body fight bacterial infections.

7. Don't forget about probiotics

Probiotics are food products that contain live cultures of bacteria. They are extremely good for the intestines and maintaining overall health.

One of the studies showed that with daily use of probiotics, the frequency of infectious pathologies decreases (by 2.5 times), and the severity and duration of their course are so minimal that they are sometimes not noticed by the patient himself.

Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system are the least frequent and easiest to occur. For example, Japanese scientists have proved that regular use of fermented milk with lactobacilli reduces the duration of respiratory infections.

Probiotics affect many components of the immune system, among which the following should be emphasized:

  1. Increased synthesis of nutrients and antioxidants. As a result, the body receives more valuable "building material", and the processes of aging and programmed cell death slow down.
  2. Improving the efficiency of lymphoid formations enclosed in mucous membranes (for example, Peyer's plaques in the intestine).
  3. Suppression of the synthesis of immunoglobulin E. It is he who is responsible for the appearance of allergic reactions of any type.
  4. Stimulation of the secretion of immunoglobulin A. It is responsible for protection against foreign substances in places where barrier tissues come into contact with the external environment.
  5. Modulating the cytokine response. Cytokines provide rapid information transfer between individual cells of the immune system.
  6. Increased production of macrophages. They are the first to capture any foreign substances that enter the bloodstream.
  7. Improvement of tissue regeneration and repair.

Probiotic-rich foods : kefir, yoghurts, other fermented milk products, as well as sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers.

Probiotics are extremely important not only for the adequate functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, but also for increasing local and general immunity factors against various pathogenic microorganisms.

8. Add garlic to your food

Garlic itself is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent (effective against most gram-positive microorganisms and individual representatives of gram-negative ones). Garlic is also an immunomodulator.

Proven that allicin, which is contained in garlic, inhibits carcinogenesis (formation of cancer cells), slows down aging, improves the work of central departments of the nervous system and prevents the appearance of drug resistance of bacteria to antibacterial drugs.

A study conducted in Florida showed that with regular addition of garlic to food, the number of white blood germ cells increases, viral infections of the upper respiratory system are less often registered, and with clinical manifestation, it proceeds in a milder form.

Scientists recommend eating 2-3 cloves of garlic a day.

Daily consumption of 2-3 cloves of garlic improves immunity and reduces the frequency of viral infections of the upper respiratory tract.

9. Use medicinal herbs

There are a large number of herbs that improve the functioning of local barriers and immunity in general. The most effective are:

  • Eleutherococcus;
  • Ginseng;
  • Astragalus.

Ginseng, according to scientists , supports the homeostasis of the immune system, increases the body's resistance to bacteria and viruses. A positive effect was noted on T and B cells, macrophages and natural killers.

When using ginseng is declining duration of the course of any colds. The plant can be used for the prevention of seasonal respiratory infections.

Astragalus, when consumed for 7 days, stimulates the work of immune cells, which has a beneficial effect on infectious morbidity. The effect is scientifically proven .

The addition of medicinal herbs to the diet has a beneficial effect on the body's resistance to pathogens of common infectious pathologies.

10. Take vitamin D

Vitamin D has multiple positive effects on the human body.

It reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, stabilizes the central nervous system, thereby reducing the severity of depression and other psychoemotional disorders that play a key role in suppressing immunity.

Recent scientific research shows that vitamin D is much more important for the immune system than previously thought. In people with vitamin D deficiency, an increase in the incidence of autoimmune pathologies, allergies, infectious and inflammatory diseases, as well as oncology, hypertension and osteoporosis was noted.

A large amount of vitamin D is found in the liver of cod, trout, red caviar of sturgeon fish, eggs (hard-boiled).

Vitamin D helps to maintain mental balance, increases the body's resistance to pathogenic factors, and also prevents the appearance of malfunctions in the immune system.

Sample menu for the week

Below is an approximate meal plan for each day of the week with a brief description of each day. Such a menu will improve the functioning of the immune system.

1. Monday

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
2 hard-boiled eggs, whole wheat sponge cake, 200 ml of milk Vegetable soup, boiled turkey meat, several tomatoes, a piece of white bread, 200 ml of warm green tea. Spinach and carrot salad with salmon, seasoned with rapeseed oil, pork steak.
Saturation of the body with selenium, vitamins A and C, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Tuesday

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Cocktail or salad of strawberries, bananas and yogurt with flaxseed oil Chicken breast sandwich. Salad of tomatoes, cucumbers with garlic, 200 ml of green tea. Baked beef meat with potatoes. Salad with spinach. Vinaigrette with rapeseed oil.
The diet is rich in iron, zinc, vitamins A and C, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics.

3. Wednesday

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Sandwich with lettuce and tuna, fresh carrots and several fruits (kiwi, banana), 200 ml of yogurt. Vegetable salad (grated carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers), borscht. Herbal tea (1 cup). Baked beef with vegetables, broccoli. Sunflower oil is used as a dressing.
Day compensates for the lack of zinc, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics.

4. Thursday

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Oatmeal porridge with skimmed milk and berries. 1 cup of green tea. Bean burrito with tomatoes, onions. Mango and melon salad. 1 cup of tea. Noodles with mushrooms with the addition of cod liver or beef. Salad of stewed cauliflower. 200 ml of milk.
The diet is rich in vitamins D, A, C, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, folic acid, iron, zinc, probiotics.

5. Friday

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Bran with raisins, a glass of skimmed or soy milk. A sandwich of wheat bread with cheese. Onion soup. Salad of green apples and grapes. Baked red fish. Salad of shredded cabbage, sweet peppers and onions. 1 mango. 200 ml of green tea.
The daily diet is rich in vitamin D, iron, quercetin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Saturday

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Omelet with mushrooms and spinach. 1 piece of wheat bread and a glass of milk (skimmed). Fruit salad with apples, strawberries and melon. Wheat cracker with cheese. A glass of green tea. Baked chicken breast with avocado, cheese and legumes. Yogurt or tomato sauce is used as a seasoning.
Foods are rich in vitamins D, A and C, beta-glucans, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, gluten and quercetin.

7. Sunday

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Whole grain waffles. Baked apple with cinnamon. 200 ml of tea. Pasta soup with broccoli, olives and tomatoes. 1 pear with low-calorie cheese. 200 ml of skimmed milk. Beef stew with potatoes, carrots and garlic, herbal tea.
The diet is rich in quercetin, vitamins (C, D), folic acid, probiotics.


Thus, if the banal rules of the diet are followed, it is possible to ensure reliable prevention of infectious and inflammatory diseases, strengthen the immune system, and prevent the development of allergic and autoimmune pathologies.