Boost your immunity through your diet, but not only…

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Immunity is the body’s ability to defend itself against threatening substances (bacteria, viruses, etc.) for its proper functioning or survival.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

On the front line the lymphocytes (a category of leukocytes, also called white blood cells). T lymphocytes (cellular immunity lymphocytes) destroy infected cells, in particular by absorbing and digesting germs.

For various reasons (fatigue, stress, poor lifestyle, etc.), our immune system is often weakened and overwhelmed by attacks.

It is possible to stimulate and strengthen it, you just need to change your diet a little and be more attentive to your lifestyle (sleep, physical activity, management of your daily life and stress)!

Here are some tips to naturally boost your defenses!

Some nutrients to favor to help your immune defenses

Vitamin A : It stimulates the production of white blood cells and antibodies by lymphocytes. It is also essential to the barrier function of the intestinal mucosa.

It is found in carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, spinach and fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut, etc.).

Vitamin C : It is a powerful antioxidant that protects white blood cells and increases their mobility. It stimulates the production of cytokines, the messengers that activate the immune response. It is found in lemon, citrus fruits, kiwis, carrots, mango, dried apricots, red peppers, acerola….

Vitamin D : is known to activate white blood cells (T lymphocytes) necessary to make antibodies and destroy microbes. It is mainly found in fatty fish (cod liver and its oil, smoked herring, mackerel, etc.). The two most common forms are vitamin D2 (of plant origin), and D3 (of animal origin) which you can find in the form of drops to take daily (5 drops per day) throughout the winter.

Vitamin E: Naturally present in sunflower seeds, vegetable oils, red fruits, oilseeds (almonds, sesame seeds, walnuts, olives, etc.). It compensates for the loss of immune response due to aging by stimulating the production of white blood cells and its value in the fight against respiratory infections.

Red fruits

Certain trace elements are also very effective:

Selenium, which intervenes at the immune level by keeping a pool of white blood cells on alert. It is found in Emmental, cooked ham, oysters or button mushrooms.

Zinc, which protects cell membranes from infections by microbial agents. It is found in oysters, periwinkles, seafood in general, poultry, cheese (maroille), dried vegetables, oilseeds (sesame seeds, nuts, etc.), rye or wholemeal bread.

The copper, participates in the constitution of numerous enzymes with an antibacterial and antiviral action, it stimulates the immune system by promoting the production of antibodies, activates the formation of red blood cells through its role on iron, on collagen and elastin, hence its use in inflammatory processes in rheumatology.
It is mainly found in liver and its derivatives, crustaceans, shellfish, algae, chocolate, starchy foods, dried vegetables, red wine, eggs.

The iron intervenes at all levels of modulation of the immune system. It is found in meat, particularly beef, but also poultry, offal, dried vegetables, oilseeds, rye or wholemeal bread. Vitamin C promotes the absorption of non-heme iron. On the contrary, coffee and tea (which contain tannins), phytates and polyphenols (which are present in plants), and calcium hinder its absorption.

Magnesium, to fight against inter-season fatigue and stress which make us more susceptible to infections. It helps stimulate the production of white blood cells. It is found in whole grain sprouts, dried fruits, oilseeds (almonds, cashew nuts), dark chocolate, dried vegetables, certain mineral waters (Courmayer, Contrex, Hépar, etc.). You can also do a treatment of 3 weeks of marine magnesium.

Serotonin: boost its production in order to better manage stress, by consuming quality slow carbohydrates at each meal, rather semi-complete or complete: pasta, rice, bulgur, etc.

Honey contains antiseptic compounds and trace elements to fight against winter ailments (angina, cough, etc.). Use it daily, in small quantities.

Garlic, onion, shallot, the herbs (chives, rosemary, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, etc.) and spices (turmeric, black pepper, etc.), grapefruit seed drops, Goji seeds can be consumed daily because they strengthen immunity!

Plants, infusions, herbs: likee thyme, L’purple coneflower helps in the production of white blood cells and can be used for prevention as well as curative against colds, sinusitis, tonsillitis, etc.

Other plants with stimulating and protective powers, ginseng with toning properties and rhodiola which reduces fatigue and helps fight seasonal depression.

Your intestine contains 2/3 of your immune defenses. So pamper him!

Nourish your microbiota, so that it is balanced and strong because good quality intestinal flora provides an effective barrier against micro-organisms.

Eat every day at least one natural yogurt (contains natural probiotics), a not too ripe banana (natural prebiotic: onion, garlic, wheat, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, oats, legumes).

Take care and adapt your diet according to your overall health (fatigue, stress, etc.) and digestive health (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.); help your digestive system by, for example, favoring foods that are easy to digest: cooked vegetables, soluble fiber, cereals, lean proteins (poultry, fish, eggs), a little vegetable oil, natural dairy, cooked fruits.

Adapt the soft, warm texture, small volume, chew your food well and take your time (at least 20 minutes per meal).

Avoid hollow calories: fast sugar, animal fats, refined foods, industrial dishes, which overload the work of digestion and do not provide any interesting nutrients.

Choose seasonal foods, fresh, quality which will provide you with numerous nutrients (vitamins, trace elements, etc.).

Vegetable charcoal : in case of bloating, it naturally absorbs gas and allows you to find a calm intestine.

Consider antiviral and immunostimulating essential oils

The essential oils of ravintsara, tea tree, savory or thujanol thyme and radiant eucalyptus are excellent antivirals and immunostimulants.

They can be used as a mixture for a powerful stimulating effect: mix 20 drops of ravintsara EO, 20 drops of radiated eucalyptus EO, 20 drops of yellow lemon EO. Place 3 drops of this mixture on a neutral tablet once a day, 5 days a week, as long as the epidemic lasts. Do not use in cases of breast cancer, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and children under 7 years old.

essential fat oils

Learn to better manage your stress: yoga, meditation, relaxation, art therapy (coloring, mandala, etc.), TIPPI technique

Stress blocks the production of immune cells, making the human body more vulnerable to microbes and viruses.

Learn to manage your breathing, your emotions, listen to your body and not impose a rhythm that is not yours.

Certain activities or techniques can help you manage them better! Yoga, relaxation, meditation and art therapy can provide you with many tools.

The TIPPI technique as for it, it is a tool to no longer suffer your emotions but to tame them. When you experience a negative emotion, close your eyes for a few moments and ask yourself what unpleasant sensations you feel within yourself at that moment. Get your hands on it and wait to see its evolution, its path, then when there are no more unpleasant sensations, open your eyes and try to think again about what triggered the emotion. You should no longer feel any unpleasant sensations!

Get quality sleep!

For a good quality immune response, you need a well-rested body because if this is not the case it will have an impact on your diet (richer and in greater quantities), your concentration and the management of your emotions ( irritability, impatience, etc.), your general health (weight gain, cardiovascular problem, chronic illness, etc.).

A few simple rules for getting restful sleep:

  • at least 7 hours minimum to 10 hours maximum of sleep per night;
  • try to have a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule all the time, this will give your body a regular rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep;
  • the ideal bedroom temperature is 18-19°C; this must be well ventilated in the morning and before bedtime;
  • the evening meal should be light (vegetables, starchy foods, a little vegetable oil, dairy, fruit) and taken at least 2 hours before bed;
  • avoid white lights (telephone and computer screens turn off 1-2 hours before bedtime) because it slows down the secretion of melatonin (sleep hormone), increases brain activity and therefore delays the time of falling asleep;
  • expose yourself to at least 20 minutes a day in the sun or strong artificial light, this will allow you to stock up on vitamin D which is used to produce melatonin;
  • a short nap of 20 minutes each day allows for better digestion and thus be more efficient;
  • remember to rest when your body asks you to rather than doping with coffee or other stimulants! A rested body is stronger and more efficient to carry out all daily tasks!

Be gentle with yourself!

Practice physical activity regularly

Like simply walking, cycling, at least 30 minutes a day, by improving blood circulation, contributes to the increase in immune cells and the improvement of their functions and to having a better quality of sleep.

Be careful, overtraining creates fatigue and can lower your immune system!

Sports activity

Choose an outfit suited to your activity and the temperature!

Pay attention to the drop in temperatures and humidity which causes cooling of the body, drying out of the mucous membranes and their weakening. Remember to cover yourself with a warm insulating fabric, protect your throat (scarf, scarf, etc.), your extremities (warm feet) and take small sips very regularly!

Certain plants disrupt the immune system

Willow, meadowsweet, harpagophytum, turmeric, echinacea… these plants have anti-inflammatory properties. However, according to the National Food Safety Agency (ANSES), they could disrupt the action of the immune system to fight viruses. At the first signs of inflammation (sore throat, rhinitis, etc.), you must stop consuming them immediately!

In summary :

  • Listen to your body and pamper yourself!
  • Maintain your immune resources (diet, sleep, physical activity) and protect yourself (stress management, suitable clothing, rest)
  • Take care of yourself, your body will reward you!