The Common Cold Prevention Immune Support

The human immune system helps protect us from contracting such illness as the common cold and the flu. When our immune systems are working at their best, we can effectively fight off viral and bacterial infections and stay healthy. When our immune system is compromised, however, we run the risk of contracting an illness.

The Human Immune System

In order to learn how we can boost the immune system, we first need to learn the basics of how the immune system works. The immune system primarily uses the following to fight off foreign substances:

  • antibodies (molecules that destroy bacteria, viruses and other toxins)
  • bone marrow (the tissue in the center of bones that produces white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets)
  • hormones (proteins that affect bodily processes)
  • the eyes, nose and mouth
  • the lymph system (lymph nodes, vessels and lymph fluid)
  • the skin
  • the spleen (an organ that produces cells that help fight infection)
  • the thymus (the gland responsible for producing white blood cells)
  • white blood cells (the cells that fight infections).

Each of the components listed above work together to keep the body healthy. If something happens to even one part of the immune system, your health can be greatly compromised.

Nutrients to Boost the Immune System

Keeping your body fueled with the proper foods can help support your immune system and boost your immunity. Immune-boosting foods help increase the number of infection-fighting cells your body produces and also frees your body from harmful substances.

Add the following eight nutrients to your diet to give your immune system the boost that it needs to fight colds:

  1. Beta Carotene: Beta carotene ups the number of infection-fighting cells in the body. It also protects against cancer by stimulating immune cells to produce tumor necrosis factor, which helps kill cancer cells.It is best to get beta carotene through food rather than through supplements. Try to include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, winter squash and kale in your diet to get the benefits of beta carotene.
  2. Bioflavonoids: Bioflavonoids protect the body from environmental pollutants. To get the recommended dosage of bioflavonoids, eat at least six servings of a wide variety of vegetables each day.
  3. Garlic: Garlic stimulates white blood cells to multiply and increases the production of antibodies. Garlic may also help rid the body of carcinogens and other toxins. Try adding garlic to salads, soups, pasta and more.
  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids help in the production of white blood cells. They also protect the body from reactions to infection. You can get omega-3 fatty acids through supplements, or you can add foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. These foods include tuna, salmon, tofu and soybeans.
  5. Selenium: Selenium is a mineral that helps increase the production of the body’s infection-fighting cells. It also helps mobilize cancer-fighting cells. You’ll find selenium in tuna, shrimp and lobster as well as in vegetables and whole grains.
  6. Vitamin C: Some researchers think that vitamin C has more immune-boosting properties than any other nutrient. It works by increasing the production on white blood cells and antibodies. Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables and is also available in tablet form. To boost your immune system, aim to get 200 milligrams of vitamin C each day.
  7. Vitamin E: Vitamin E stimulates the production of cells that kill germs and cancer cells. It also increases the production of cells that produce antibodies to destroy bacteria in the body. Aim to get 100 to 400 milligrams of vitamin E each day. In order to achieve this, you will likely need to take a supplement.
  8. Zinc: Zinc increases white blood cell production. It also increases the number of cells that fight cancer. It is important to note, however, that getting more than 75 milligrams of zinc each day can inhibit immune function. Aim to get 15 to 25 milligrams per day. Good sources of zinc include oysters, fortified cereals, crab, dark-meat turkey and beans.

Resources

Brian, Marshall (n.d.). How Your Immune System Works. Retrieved October 25, 2007, from the howstuffworks Web site: http://health.howstuffworks.com/immune-system.htm.

Dr.Sears.com (2006). Feeding Your Immune System. Retrieved October 25, 2007, from the AskDrSears.com Web site: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/T042500.asp.