What better time to work on heightening our internal illness defense mechanisms than during a pandemic! When it comes to boosting our immunity using nutrition, the following are proven methods with evidence to back them up. Some will be more surprising than others.
1. Eat more fruit and vegetables.
Sounds so obvious right? But there is some cool proof. Dr Greger from Nutrition Facts.org profiles a study that looked into immune function and our intake of fruits and vegetables. For 2 weeks, subjects eliminated all fruits and vegetables from their diets. As expected, their immune function dropped. When subjects reintroduced even 2 servings a day of fruit and vegetables, their immune function improved. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10673911
Adding to this, the more fruit and vegetables the subjects ate in these studies, the better their defenses! There was an 80% improvement in immune defense markers when bumping up from 2 to 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day! Even more protection was shown when bumping up to 9 servings per day. https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/08/21/what-to-eat-to-boost-immunity/
The addition of cruciferous vegetables like brocolli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts were even more powerful in boosting immune markers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14520020
2. Gargling with salt water
This one is a little stranger but has some evidence behind it! A study out of Japan found that daily gargling your way through a cup of salt water can also reduce the chance of an upper respiratory infection aka the common cold. This practice was not shown to prevent influenza. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16242593
3. Vitamin D
The sunshine vitamin has been proven to also boost immunity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/
Generally supplementation of 600 mg daily is needed for males and females between age 1 to 70. Vitamin D is not found in many foods but can be found in fatty fish and mushrooms. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/#h2
This one excites me! Have you ever gotten sick when you’ve bumped your training up? Exercise 3 x per week at 30 min per session is proven to improve immune function through boosting an antibody known as IgA that is found in our saliva. Too much exercise though and we drive down our immunity.
Supplementation with chlorella has been shown to prevent this IgA drop when given to a group of athletes at training camp. This could result in less likelihood of getting sick when under increased training stress. So, how do we do chlorella? Try adding a teaspoon to your daily recovery shake. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23227811
Think about one tactic you can introduce to your daily practice to boost your immunity.
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