Why do some people get sick frequently while
others can shrug off colds, flu. & other infectious agents? The answer is,
of course, the immune system. A healthy immune system keeps us well. Like a
symphony, our immunity arranges biochemicals, cells, and different processes to
work continuously to shield our bodies against invaders like bacteria, viruses,
and toxins. In addition to genetics & lifestyle scientists have identified
what we eat as the key factor in how our bodies defenses stay sharp.
Diet plays a significant role in strengthening
our body’s immune system and helps to fight against the diseases. Many natural
foods contain unique ingredients that support and boost immunity. Some also
have direct activity against the disease-causing organism. A properly
functioning immune system would be well regulated to avoid damaging its own
body’s cells and tissues.
Research has shown that our immune system
benefits from healthy lifestyle measures like avoiding alcohol and smoking,
regular exercise, good sleep, and maintaining our weight. As a result of the
coronavirus pandemic, people also learned about the benefits of zinc &
vitamin c. What follows are the top 15 ingredients that have shown benefits in
strengthening the immune system and benefits directly against the
disease-causing agents. This list only includes supplements that have a wide
safety range, have been shown in clinical studies to have benefits, and are
drug free and extracted from natural foods to help optimize
our immune system.1
a protein present in human milk and cow’s milk. Colostrum has
approximately seven times more lactoferrin than normal milk. It boosts the
immune system by applying changes to the leukocytes of innate immunity, by
modifying the synthesis of reactive oxygen species, increasing the number of
neutrophils and natural killer cells. It also promotes macrophage phagocytosis,
reduces intracellular transport of pathogens, and increases nitric oxide and
cytokine production. Lactoferrin promotes the degranulation of neutrophils. It
results in the mixing of lactoferrin to the inflammatory cells, including
dendritic cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, B lymphocytes, and T
lymphocytes. This mixing promotes the ability of lactoferrin to reduce the
chronic inflammation and increase innate and adaptive immunity of the body.
Lactoferrin also has antiviral activity against different DNA and RNA viruses,
including respiratory viruses, by blocking viral entry into the cells.
a pigment that belongs to the group called flavonoids. It is present in grains,
fruits, vegetables, and tea. Its immune-boosting effect is due to the
neutralization of free radicals by acting as an antioxidant. Quercetin has
inflammatory and immune-modulating functions to prevent different medical
conditions, including cancer, degenerative central nervous system problems, and
cardiac diseases. It enhances the chronic inflammatory response in people
taking keto diets and carrageenan-induced inflammation. These anti-allergic and
immune-boosting properties are due to suppression of histamine release and
inflammatory cytokines, inhibition of interleukin-4 synthesis, and leukotrienes
production. It works as an antiviral agent by reacting with HA protein of virus
that inhibits viral entry into cells. It is most potent against the influenza
Hesperidin is a plant chemical grouped
It is present in citrus fruits. Hesperidin possesses immune, anti-inflammatory,
and anti-tumor effects. Anti-inflammatory effects are due to the increase in
CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes. Hesperidin reduces the amounts of tumor necrotic
factor, interleukin-6, and interleukin 1-Beta. It can be used in combination
with diosmin (a citrus bioflavonoids) for many inflammatory conditions,
including hemorrhoids, venous stasis, lymphedema, and varicose veins. According
to studies, in high doses, hesperidin can also damage normal cells by enhancing
chronic inflammatory reactions. Regarding antiviral activity, it increases the
expression of antiviral genes that activate cellular immunity of both
uninfected and infected cells.
This naturally occurring compound is found in
turmeric. Curcumin act as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and immune-boosting
agent. It helps in repairing mechanism and preventing the invaders from
spreading infection in the body. It helps against the diseases that
occur due to low-intensity chronic inflammation, including cancer, metabolic
syndrome, heart diseases, Alzheimer's disease, and degenerative syndromes. In
some conditions, it can replace the function of anti-inflammatory drugs. The
molecular mechanism underlying this function is that it blocks NF-kB, a
molecule that trips into the nucleus of cells and turns and increases the
expression of genes related to inflammation. NF-kB has a significant role in
Curcumin naturally cleans the respiratory
tract and prevent viruses causing the common cold, flu, and sinusitis. It
inhibits the replication process of viral nucleic acid, so it decreases the
spread of infection among the cells of the body.
Astragalus is an herb. The root of astragalus
is processed to make different forms like capsules, teas, powders, and liquid
extracts. Active compounds of root of astragalus ( that are saponins,
flavonoids, and polysaccharides) have immune-boosting, antiviral, antioxidant,
anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties. The primary
mechanism responsible for the immune-boosting property is that it increases the
production of white blood cells that prevent illnesses, especially the
destruction of cancer cells, prevent HIV and common cold infections, and
reduces muscle wasting. It activates macrophages via heparanase enzymes that
promote the inflammatory response. The antiviral activity of astragalus is mild
and no danger of chronic inflammatory reactions.
Zinc is vital for a healthy immune system.
Lower level of zinc is a risk factor of certain disorders and medical
illnesses. Zinc is responsible for the proper functioning of approximately one
hundred enzymes. It activates and increases the synthesis of T lymphocytes. T
cells aid the immune system of the body in two ways that are destroying
infected and benign cells or tumors and regulating inflammatory and immune
Deficiency of zinc, especially in newborn
children, pregnant mothers, and lactating mothers, can cause severe and
life-threatening immune distress. Zinc has a considerable antiviral activity
against respiratory viruses. Deficiency of zinc can cause pneumonia in
It is an element, a nonmetal with various
health benefits to the human body. It boosts the immune system by working as an
antioxidant that prevents the cells from oxidative damage. Antioxidants lower
the inflammation and reduce the risk of cell and tissue damage. It also
increases the leukocytes and other inflammatory cells in the bloodstream that
enhance the immune system.
Studies have shown that people who have
deficient selenium supplementation are at higher risk of developing respiratory
diseases, especially those caused by the Influenza virus. Selenium
supplementation also reduces the risk of developing HIV infection, tuberculosis,
and hepatitis C. Further, it reduces the DNA damage and destroys cancer cells.
It boosts immunity against prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and
uterine cancer. It increases the level of inflammatory cells in the blood, so
excessive or abnormal function may result in a severe chronic inflammatory
Glutathione is produced inside the human body.
It is available from exogenous sources that are spinach, okra, avocados, and
asparagus. It balances
our innate immunity at the site of infection. It causes leukocytes
infiltration, and this kills bacteria and other organisms. It is a
thiol-containing antioxidant. It neutralizes free radical reactions. It may
increase or decrease inflammatory reactions by regulating white blood cells.
Glutathione rebalancing reduces chronic inflammation. It induces an antiviral
response by holding back the effects of the Influenza virus. Glutathione has a
role in lung diseases. It reduces the transcription factor NF- kB by reducing
the amount of ROS.
Olive leaf extract:
It is the best way to boost up immune system
naturally. It enhances the immune system in two ways:
- Increasing phagocytosis that promotes the engulfing and
destruction of harmful elements in the body.
- Stops the replication of viruses and bacteria and prevent
there spreading from infected cells to the normal cells.
Olive leaf extract is the best way to treat
cold, flu, and their associated symptoms, which include sore throat, coughing,
sneezing, and pain. It also reduces the inflammatory response to save normal
cells. Other functions include neuroprotection, gastroprotection, antioxidant,
antibacterial, and anticancer.
This flowering plant belongs to Family
Fabaceae. It is an herbaceous legume. Its root extract is helpful for immune
support and provides muscle health. It is widely used for herbal
immune-boosting. Immune activation through herbal products has always been the
safest method. The active ingredient of Licorice, Glycyrrhizin is responsible
for immune support. It helps our bodies to maintain a balance of inflammatory
reactions. It contains more than 20 triterpenoids. All of these, two
triterpenoids, GL and GA have antiviral qualities. These directly target viral
replication and virus gene expression.9
It is one of the elements of folk medicine and
extracted from the oregano plant. It has diverse properties and act as an
excellent antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. It helps to get rid of
infections. Oregano oil is rich in antioxidants. It reduces free radicals and
diminishes inflammatory reactions. According to research, it reduced swelling
in the mice’s paw by up to 57%. It has a significant antiviral role and great
activity against Herpes simplex virus, Rotavirus, and respiratory syncytial
It is a group of herbaceous plants belonging
to the daisy family. The flowering plant has 10 species. Extracts of Echinacea
have great effects on the immune system. Various studies demonstrate that it
increases the number of white blood cells in our body. This herbal product has
a critical role in preventing the common cold. It boosts immunity by
consumption of dry powdered extract (300-500 mg) or liquid tincture extract
(2.5ml), three times a day. It has been used in wound healing for a long time.
It improves respiratory diseases caused by common bacteria. It helps in the
treatment of respiratory viral infections, caused by rhinovirus, influenza
virus (A, B), coronavirus, etc.
Herbal medicines contain bioflavonoids as
active ingredients. These include Ginkgo biloba, Hypericum perforatum,
Tanacetum parthenium, Echinacea spp, licorice root, Glycyrrhiza glabra, St.
John's wort, and feverfew. These help to increase the benefits of vitamin C.8
Immune boosters are the supplements that
increase the immunity of our body. Zinc is a vital mineral to the body in
several ways. Zinc is a key part of cells that are first-responders
against invading bacteria and viruses. Studies have shown that zinc nasal
sprays help to decrease the number of upper respiratory infections in
children and may reduce the duration of colds in adults.
The immune defense comprises all the tools of
the immune system present in organisms. Zinc lozenges may assist you to beat
an infection, but likely won't help you prevent one. It prevents the
viruses from multiplying. Zinc lozenge are more effective, which allows
the substance to stay in the throat and come in contact with the viruses. But
zinc in lozenge form has certain side effects, including nausea and unpleasant
taste in the mouth.
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2 Li, Y., Yao, J., Han, C., Yang, J.,
Chaudhry, M., & Wang, S. et al. (2016). Quercetin, Inflammation and
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3 Lee, Y., Jung, J., & Kim, H.
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4 Gao, X., Kuo, J., Jiang, H., Deeb, D., Liu,
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cytotoxicity, and cytokine production in vitro. Biochemical
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5 Qin, Q., Niu, J., Wang, Z., Xu, W., Qiao,
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6 Maggini, S., Wintergerst, E.,
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7 Ghezzi, P. (2011). Role of
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9 Catanzaro, M., Corsini, E.,
Rosini, M., Racchi, M., & Lanni, C. (2018). Immunomodulators Inspired by
Nature: A Review on Curcumin and Echinacea. Molecules, 23(11), 2778.