Research Review: 9 Foods that Boost Human Immunity

The immune system is the body's main defender against the effects of any foreign agents (bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxic substances).

Unfortunately, with a lack of vitamins and some elements in the diet, abuse of bad habits, a fixed lifestyle, the work of well-coordinated immune mechanisms is disrupted.

Malfunctions of the immune system manifest themselves equally in women and men, and are characterized by frequent allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases, as well as a decrease in resistance to pathogens of infectious and inflammatory pathologies (in other words, a person begins to get sick more often).

Diet plays a key role in strengthening and maintaining the immune system of an adult. Saturation of the body with valuable amino acids, vitamins, macro- and microelements has a beneficial effect on the formation and differentiation of "protective" cells.

Below is a list of the 9 most useful foods and drinks that need to be consumed on a regular basis to boost immunity.

1. Broccoli

The vegetable contains a large amount of vitamins (A, C, E), macro- and microelements, antioxidants and fiber, which are extremely useful for the adult body.

Broccoli contains a natural flavonoid – quercetin, which has anti-allergic properties (blocks the release of histamine, interleukin-4), but at the same time is a stimulant of the immune system (increases the ratio of T-helper types I and II).

Scientists recommend use broccoli in the presence of allergic diseases (for example, bronchial asthma), as well as respiratory viral infections (broccoli has direct antiviral activity – blocks neuramidase, which, by preventing the cleavage of the bridge between the microbial cell and sialic acids on the surface of the epithelium, prevents bacteria from leaving the cells of the body human after replication).

Broccoli is an important component in the diet of people suffering from allergic pathologies and frequent viral infections.

2. Garlic

Due to the large number of sulfur-containing compounds (allicin), garlic has an immunomodulatory effect.

The effects of garlic are numerous, and many folk remedies are made on its basis in alternative medicine.

Garlic stimulates leukopoiesis in red bone marrow cells (useful for patients with viral diseases or severe immunodeficiency conditions). Against the background of regular intake of garlic, an increase in the concentration of natural killers and T-link cells is observed.

One of the studies found that after 1.5 months of regular consumption of garlic, the content and activity of white blood germ cells increases, and after 3 months, respiratory viral infections and influenza are less frequently registered, and the diseases themselves occur in a milder form.

It is recommended to eat 2-3 cloves of garlic per day.

Garlic should be consumed every day for 2-3 cloves to increase the effectiveness of the immune system and get sick less often with SARS and flu.

3. Seafood

Seafood contains huge amounts of zinc and selenium.

Zinc helps to increase the number of cells of the T-link of the immune system, as well as natural killers. As a result, the body's ability to phagocytose any foreign agents (bacteria and viruses) increases.

Is known that shrimp, mussels, squid, crayfish, oysters, crabs are an excellent source of zinc.

Selenium is necessary to stimulate the production of red bone marrow young leukocyte cells, which scientifically confirmed .

Mussels, octopuses, seaweed, crabs, oysters, lobsters, tuna are rich in selenium.

One of the studies conducted in 2008, proved that the combination of zinc and selenium enhances the effect of each of the trace elements.

Seafood should definitely be included in the diet due to the high content of zinc and selenium, which can activate the immune system.

4. Ginger

Ginger improves the functioning of the immune system as a whole, promotes the activation of cell synthesis in the thymus gland. The positive effect of the plant on the immune system  scientifically proven and is implemented through a large number of mechanisms.

Additional advantages include that the use of ginger reduces the concentration of free radicals, and, as a result, helps prevent the appearance of malignant transformations, as well as slows down the processes of natural aging and cell death.

Ginger also has pronounced anti-inflammatory properties, which is important for fighting infectious diseases.

One of the studies demonstrated that ginger normalizes lipid profile parameters and is effective in the presence of chronic pain.

Ginger acts on several mechanisms of maintaining immunity at once, and also eliminates symptoms that are often found in infectious diseases.

5. Yogurt and other fermented milk products

Fermented dairy products, which contain live biocultures, increase the efficiency of the functioning of general and local (in the intestinal lumen) immune factors.

Fermented dairy products are also rich in vitamin D. Animal experiments have shown that vitamin D contributes to the prevention of autoimmune diseases, increases resistance to various pathological agents.

It should be mentioned separately works of American scientists . They proved through human studies that "live" yogurts enhance the immune response to bacteria, viruses and fungi in the elderly.

Useful bifidobacteria contribute to the prevention of intestinal dysbiosis. They reduce the number of representatives of pathogenic and opportunistic flora. The absence of regular exposure to unwanted bacteria helps to prevent immunological failures and reduces the incidence of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Fermented milk products enriched with beneficial bacterial cultures are an essential component of nutrition in people with reduced immunity.

6. Green Tea

Green tea has pronounced antiseptic properties (it acts in the intestinal lumen).

The drink is able to effectively fight viral particles that circulate in the blood in some infectious diseases.

Individual studies have shown that green tea increases the production of white blood cells and their release into the peripheral vascular bed.

Green tea is effective for frequent viral pathologies, and also stimulates leukopoiesis.

7. Almonds

Doctors recommend eating this type of nuts during viral infections of the upper respiratory system.

The beneficial properties of almonds are due to the presence of large doses of vitamin E in the composition, which stimulates the production of B-link cells and natural killers.

Almonds are recommended to be eaten together with fatty foods that help the absorption of vitamin E in the lumen of the digestive tube. 100 g of almonds provides the body with a daily allowance of vitamin E.

Almonds should be used for private viral diseases of the respiratory system, as well as for general immunity enhancement.

8. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds contain huge amounts of vitamin B6 and E, phosphorus, and magnesium. Such a set of useful components makes sunflower seeds a powerful antioxidant and a stimulant of the immune system.

Scientists from the UK, after conducting a large study, found that the oil made from sunflower seeds helps to reduce the severity of allergic skin diseases, improves the nutrition of epidermal cells and their supply of water. It is recommended to use the product orally and topically.

Sunflower seeds protect the skin from allergic pathologies and other damage, improve trophism and healing of any defects.

9. Carrots

Carrot pulp contains a significant amount of beta-carotene, which, according to scientists, stimulates the synthesis of lymphocytes in the bone marrow.

Additional effects of beta-carotene include a reduction in the risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

To fully absorb fat-soluble beta-carotene, you should consume at least 3 g of fat together (for example, olive oil or balsamic vinegar).

Carrots are an important source of beta–carotene for the human body, which increases the content of lymphocytes in the peripheral blood.

7 foods that Reduce Immunity

In order to maintain the full functioning of the immune system and prevent various failures, a number of harmful foods should be abandoned.

It is undesirable to use such products:

  1. Fast food. Regular addition of fast food (for 30 days or more) slows down the speed of the immune system, provokes the development of allergic reactions of any type. Such an action is realized due to the high sugar content and the almost complete absence of fiber. The development of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases is also noted, and the risk of non-specific ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease (severe autoimmune abnormalities) increases.
  2. Monosodium glutamate. Nowadays, a food additive is found in a wide range of food products (you can find it by the description of the composition, it is called E621). Scientific papers show that monosodium glutamate slows down the activity of metabolic processes in the thymus and spleen, which leads to inhibition of the production of antibodies against foreign agents. At the same time, the ability of cells of the immune system to react against their own tissues increases.
  3. Alcoholic beverages. Drinks containing ethanol inhibit the formation of immunoglobulins (classes G and M), disrupt the adequate differentiation of T and B lymphocytes. With alcoholism the work of the brain is changing , circadian rhythms are lost (for example, the rhythm of sleep).
  4. Caffeine. Coffee is an indispensable source of strength and energy for the body, however, against the background of constant cortisol rises, the secretion of interleukins into the blood decreases, which are an important component of the body's immune response.
  5. Fruits and vegetables with pesticides. Many suppliers process fruits and vegetables with a large amount of chemicals that not only protect them from parasites, but also increase the ripening rate. Fruits and vegetables contain massive amounts of lectin, the concentration of which gradually decreases as they grow. In false-ripe plants, the content of this substance is exceeded, which provokes the development of intestinal dysbiosis and malfunctions of local immune factors, which quickly affect the overall immune status of the human body.
  6. Sweets. Sugar is the most desirable food source for most pathogenic organisms. Against the background of hyperglycemia, the ability of bacteria to reproduce increases, and the effect of vitamin C on various organs and tissues decreases. As a result, the immune system works in an extremely stressful mode, which causes an increase in the frequency of failures (autoimmune abnormalities).
  7. Gluten. This protein is found in most cereal plants (wheat, semolina, barley, rye). Interacting with various elements of the immune system, gluten increases the production of a special protein – zonulin, which destroys the cells of the epithelium and the muscular layer of the intestinal tube. As a result, many toxic substances and infectious agents freely enter the systemic circulation, and an undesirable immune response develops. Cereal plants are good for the body, but it is not recommended to abuse them in order to maintain the health of the immune system.

7 more important Tips

The immune system includes a large number of anatomical formations (tonsils and adenoids, thymus, multiple lymph nodes, spleen , appendix, Peyer's plaques in the intestinal wall, red bone marrow ). All these organs synthesize and accumulate cells of the immune system.

For such a complex system to work properly, diet alone is not enough.

In order to increase immunity in general, it is recommended to follow a number of simple rules:

  1. Timely access to a doctor in the presence of any diseases. Often occurring viral infections (ARVI, influenza, herpes infection, etc.) are especially dangerous, which signal a decrease in the activity of cells of the immune system. This may be the first signal of the presence of autoimmune diseases, cancer or HIV infection.
  2. Regular exercise and outdoor walks. Sports activate all metabolic processes, prevent the development of metabolic syndrome, which inhibits the immune system. Fresh air (park areas, forests) saturates the body with oxygen, promotes accelerated release of toxic substances.
  3. Tempering. Pouring cool water or a contrast shower is extremely effective for boosting immunity.
  4. Stress relief. Constant exposure to strong psychoemotional stimuli and depression knock down the work of all body systems. The intensity of metabolic processes decreases, the synthesis of protective cells and their subsequent differentiation are inhibited. It is recommended to laugh more, spend time with friends and family. Psychological trainings and yoga are also useful. Stress Reduction is the key to the health of the whole body!
  5. Full sleep. For full recovery, it is necessary to take about 7-9 hours to sleep, for children – 10-13 hours. Chronic fatigue and malaise caused by lack of sleep reduce the number of white blood cells (mainly due to lymphocytes), which significantly suppresses antiviral immunity.
  6. Quitting smoking. Tobacco smoke containing several thousand names of toxic and carcinogenic substances causes the development of chronic bronchitis. The bronchial epithelium becomes the "battlefield" of the immune system. Against the background of this condition, the incidence of autoimmune and allergic diseases increases. For example, one in 16 smokers has bronchial asthma at a late age.
  7. Maintaining body weight. Obesity is dangerous not only for the development of hypertension and diabetes mellitus in the future, but also for immunodeficiency.


Thus, changes in diet and lifestyle, combined with the rejection of bad habits, help strengthen the immune system, increase the body's resistance to infectious agents. When certain foods are used for food, there is a decrease in the incidence of autoimmune and allergic diseases and a decrease in the severity of their course.