11 Natural Foods That Promote Immune Health

Having a healthy immune system is vital to avoiding illness and disease – but it can also be easy for your immune system to become compromised. There is little more important than diet when it comes to the health of your body’s defense system. Food fuels the immune system with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best, and if you eat the right things, you can promote overall good immune health now and for years to come. Let’s take a look at some natural foods that promote immune health.

What foods boost your immune system naturally? 

Many nutritious foods can help you boost your immune system and keep yourself safe from outside pathogens. They include: 

1. Citrus fruits 

Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps increase white blood cells. White blood cells are vital players in the fight against pathogens. Some of the best citrus fruits you can eat if you want to improve your immune health include: 

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Clementines

The body doesn’t store vitamin C, so it’s important to incorporate fruits like these regularly into your diet. 

2. Red bell peppers

Another great way to get the vitamin C you need is through red bell peppers. Bell peppers of the red variety contain three times the amount of vitamin C as one orange. If you don’t want to eat a citrus fruit every day or need variety to get your daily needs, adding some red bell peppers to your meals is a great way to accomplish that. 

3. Broccoli 

Broccoli contains several nutrients that can keep your immune system healthy. It has vitamins E, C, and A, and antioxidants that help reduce widespread inflammation. When there is inflammation in the body, especially chronic, it can weaken your defenses. By eating more broccoli, you can gain the nutrients your body needs to fight off pathogens and keep inflammation down when you are not contending with an illness.  

4. Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries as a flavorful addition to food and medicine. Garlic is excellent for the immune system because it contains the compound allicin. Allicin has the ability to both help the body fight off viruses and regulate the immune system for better overall functioning. 

Image by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash: Is garlic an immunity booster food? Yes! 

5. Ginger

Ginger is another food many people turn to when ill because of its medicinal properties. Ginger contains antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. The root vegetable is also a diaphoretic, which can help the body sweat out colds or cases of flu faster. Research has shown that ginger can reduce inflammation in the body and fight off oxidative stress, which can help the immune system to become better regulated. 

6. Spinach 

Spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients. It contains high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta-carotene. All these nutrients can increase the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and stay better protected against disease. 

7. Yogurt 

The health of the immune system and the gut go hand in hand. Roughly 80% of all immune cells are found in the stomach, so when it is healthy, the immune system generally is, too. This is why eating yogurt regularly can promote good immune health.

Yogurt contains beneficial live bacteria that help to stimulate the cells of the immune system in the gut to fight off disease effectively. As one of the best foods for immune health, the cultures in yogurt also help to keep the gut bacteria balanced in a way that improves not only immune health, but overall bodily health. 

8. Almonds

Almonds contain high levels of vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant within the body. According to research, vitamin E is one of the best nutrients for immune health because it modulates immune function. When the immune system is regulated correctly, it responds better to harmful pathogens. 

sunflower seeds
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9. Sunflower seeds 

Similar to almonds, sunflower seeds also contain high levels of vitamin E. Along with this nutrient, the seeds also contain selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin B6, each of which is important to overall immune function.

Selenium acts as an antioxidant, reducing overall inflammation levels and enhancing the immune response. Phosphorous plays an essential role in immunity because of its ability to create barriers against pathogens in the body, and magnesium can strengthen the action of white blood cells. When you get enough magnesium, your immune cells can better find and destroy pathogens. 

10. Turmeric

Turmeric has long been used in the natural medicine world because of its ability to combat illness and treat various types of arthritic diseases. The substance that gives turmeric its medicinal properties is curcumin. According to research on curcumin and immunity, the spice can influence how well immune cells function. That influence helps the immune system maintain readiness for fighting off infections. 

11. Green tea 

Green tea is another immune-friendly food touted for its health benefits. Green tea contains flavonoids, which are great for regulating the immune response. The compounds help immunity because they can inhibit the activation of specific immune cells that harm how well the immune system functions. 

An antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is also found in high amounts in green tea. Research has shown that this particular antioxidant can boost the immune system.

Incorporating these foods regularly into your diet will ensure you get all the nutrients your immune system needs to keep you well protected now and in the future.  

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How Anxiety Can Influence Immune Function

The immune system is a vital piece of the health puzzle. It acts as the body’s defense system and has three main functions: fight outside infections, neutralize harmful substances, and ward off non-infectious diseases. Within the immune system are cells, chemicals, and organs all working together to ensure your body is ready when something threatening occurs.

The immune system can be fickle, and many things can compromise its ability to do its job. Sometimes, a simple illness can throw the immune system out of sorts. Other times it can be an internal attack. This means that things you do regularly or specific things you experience can all affect how well your immune system functions. When looking at it from an emotional standpoint, how you feel daily greatly influences how ready your body will be when it needs to fight a cellular battle. 

One emotion that affects immune function is anxiety. But what exactly is anxiety, and what role does it play in immunity? Read on to learn how anxiety can influence immune function.

What is anxiety? 

In simple terms, anxiety is a feeling of anticipation. It is how the body primes itself for a future worry or concern. Our ancestors used anxiety as part of the stress response to prepare to deal with threats. The stress response—or fight or flight reaction—occurs when there is a perceived threat to safety. The physiological changes, such as an increased heart rate and tense muscles, get the body ready to either fight an oncoming threat or flee the situation for your safety. 

In modern times, the need to be alert to possible threats isn’t the same as it once was – people are much safer today than they were in ancient times! This is why anxiety, or anxiety disorders, are more closely related to emotional experiences than the need to protect one’s physical safety. Today, anxiety can manifest when there is no true danger at all. When that happens, the body goes through physiological changes that prime it for danger even though there is no actual risk. 

Similar to stress, the physical symptoms of anxiety often manifest the way they do because the body isn’t aware there is no threat. However, acute stress comes with symptoms that subside, while anxiety symptoms generally remain. 

anxiety symptoms
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Anxiety and the immune system

Anxiety triggers the stress response in the body. As mentioned above, this response determines the right course of action between fighting or fleeing. During high periods of stress, the body goes through various physiological changes. Certain hormones, including adrenaline, are released into the bloodstream. Your breathing and heart rate increases when the adrenaline increases. The body responds this way so that the brain can access more significant amounts of oxygen and react to the stressful situation appropriately. 

When anxiety sets off this response and the stress hormones are released, the immune system gets a little boost. Research shows that bouts of short-term stress can activate innate and adaptive immune responses. The innate immune response acts as a dispatcher to the danger call, and the adaptive is the first responder. Specific immune cells are produced to prepare for battle. This increase in immune activity protects you during periods of stress.

While anxiety initiating the stress response may seem helpful to immunity, however, it applies only if the stress and anxiety are short-term. The body and the immune system return to normal when the short-term stress begins to subside. Long-term anxiety and stress are entirely different stories. 

Does stress and anxiety compromise your immune system? 

While short-term stress boosts the immune system, the opposite is true for long-term anxiety and stress. Research has found that when a person experiences long-term anxiety, the innate and adaptive immune responses become compromised. That is because chronic stress and anxiety can cause the immune system to become dysregulated. A dysregulated immune system responds to nonexistent threats and cannot fight appropriately if an invader shows up.

person struggling with anxiety
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What’s more is that cytokines – small proteins that control the growth and action of immune cells – become altered by chronic anxiety and stress. If cytokines are not functioning as they should, the preparedness of other immune cells suffers along with them.

Other issues that the immune system faces because of anxiety include: 

  • Chronic inflammation, which can drive the development of chronic illness and disease 
  • The suppression of immune cells designed to protect against non-infectious diseases such as cancer 
  • Decreased production of new immune cells, which leaves the body defenseless when invaders do show up
  • Problems with how immune cells move freely through the body, leading to their inability to be where they need to be to fight infection
  • An increased risk of developing chronic disease 

With all these changes caused by anxiety, the immune system will not be able to fight the good fight against pathogens or internal bodily threats. If the body is always anxious or stressed, it is left wide open and unprotected without a properly functioning immune system. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment for anxiety symptoms before they get out of hand.

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How Body Fat Percentage Can Influence Immune Function

A well-functioning immune system is essential for your overall health and wellbeing. An optimally operational immune system will defend the body against foreign pathogens and disease. It will also not attack the body or cause unnecessary and harmful chronic inflammation (the way it does in the case of autoimmune disease).

Many factors affect how well your immune system operates, and it’s important to make lifestyle choices that are likely to lead to your immune system working well. Let’s talk about how body fat percentage can influence immune function.

What Is Body Fat Percentage?

A person’s body fat percentage is their total mass of fat divided by their total body mass and multiplied by 100. It is the percentage of their entire body that is made of fat. Body fat percentage is seen as a good indicator of a person’s overall health and fitness status. Studies suggest that body fat percentage can have an effect on immune function.

How Is Body Fat Percentage Measured?

The main methods of measuring body fat percentage are:

  • Skinfold measurements
  • Body fat scales
  • Circumference measurements
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan
  • Air displacement plethysmography
  • 3D body scanner
  • Hydrodensitometry (underwater weighing)
measuring body fat
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The Different Types Of Body Fat

Body fat comes in six types. These are:

  • Essential fat: Essential fat helps to regulate body temperature, vitamin absorption, cell structure, and hormones, and is essential for optimal health.
  • White fat: White fat cells store fat in the form of triglycerides and are the main form of fat cell in the body. White fat is the body’s largest energy reserve, and it provides cushioning for the organs and external body structure. When people are overweight, the majority of their excess weight will be in the form of white fat.
  • Brown fat: Brown fat cells burn energy. Brown fat is packed with mitochondria, which burn fatty acids to generate heat and keep the body warm. Brown fat is especially prevalent in babies.
  • Beige fat: Beige fat cells function somewhere between white and brown fat cells. They help burn fat rather than store it.
  • Subcutaneous fat: Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat directly underneath our skin. Subcutaneous fat is made up of a combination of white, brown, and beige fat, and makes up about 90% of fat in our body.
  • Visceral fat: Visceral fat is white fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity around organs such as the heart, liver, and pancreas.

What Does Body Fat Percentage Indicate?

Body fat percentage can indicate whether you are a healthy weight, overweight, or underweight. However, body fat percentage is not a foolproof indicator of general health or of a healthy lifestyle.

Body fat percentage depends on multiple genetic factors that vary between individuals, such as metabolism, activity levels, and musculature. Also, where body fat is stored has a large impact on health outcomes. For example, if you have a healthy body fat percentage but an unhealthy amount of your fat is visceral fat around your waist, you may be at increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

What Is A Healthy Body Fat Percentage?

A healthy body fat percentage for males is generally between 8% and 18%. When men get to age 50 and over, a body fat percentage of between 8% and 22% is considered healthy.

A healthy body fat percentage for females is generally between 14% and 20%. From age 50 and over, a body fat percentage of between 8% and 27% is considered healthy.

Risks Of An Unhealthy Body Fat Percentage

If you have an unhealthy body fat percentage, you increase the risk of various negative health outcomes. These include:

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Autoimmune diseases

If your body fat percentage is too low, you risk:

  • Hormone imbalances
  • Loss of reproductive function
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of muscle tissue
  • Dry, fragile bones

What Is The Immune System And What Does It Do?

The immune system is the network of organs, tissues, and cells that prevents invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites from taking hold in the body and causing disease. When germs get into the body, the immune system triggers the release of special cells that attack them. So how does body fat affect the immune system?

thin body
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How Body Fat Percentage Can Influence Immune Function

Studies suggest that excess visceral fat, particularly around the stomach, can trigger the immune system to release proinflammatory immune cells. By circulating in the blood and causing inflammation, these cells can damage the body rather than protect it.

Can Excessive Body Fat Lead To Immune Disorders?

Studies suggest that excessive body fat can lead to immune disorders that cause inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

Can Low Body Fat Affect The Immune System?

Studies suggest that lowering body fat can change immune system activity quickly and positively and reverse some of the adverse inflammatory changes seen in obese people with diabetes.

Lowered body fat percentage causes the immune system to reduce the amount of proinflammatory cells circulating in the blood. This reduces chronic inflammation throughout the body and can improve prediabetes and type-2 diabetes.

How To Reduce Body Fat Percentage

You can reduce body fat percentage through:

  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting more sleep
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Weight training

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How Your Quality Of Sleep Can Influence Immune Function

Getting enough sleep in today’s fast-paced world is a challenge. We have to maintain social, professional, and family lives, take care of household duties, make food, exercise… The list goes on. Because of all these factors, many people are unable to get the quality and quantity of sleep that they need to wake up feeling rested, restored, and ready to take on another day.

What many people don’t consider when they think about their personal sleep habits is the detrimental effects that poor sleep can have on overall health. Several health issues can be tied to a lack of good-quality sleep, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Considering how serious these diseases and conditions can be, it’s important that we think more critically about our sleep. As well as the specific issues mentioned above, sleep can also affect how well your body’s general defense system functions. But how does sleep influence immunity, exactly? Read on for all you need to know about how your quality of sleep can influence immune function.

Sleep quality and immune function

It can be difficult to commit to proper sleep habits if you don’t properly understand how sleep affects your body overall, or how it contributes to keeping you as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

The reason why sleep is so important for immunity is because of the way it ties into the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal clock. Also known as the circadian cycle, this function regulates the body’s sleep–wake cycle – the natural cycle that prepares you for sleep and then wakes you back up again. This natural cycle is crucial in giving the body the time it needs to rest and refresh for the upcoming day.

person sleeping under covers
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When considering the circadian rhythm to the immune system, studies have found a symbiotic link between the two. The circadian rhythm plays a role in the processes that need to be constantly regulated for immune cells to be properly produced.

For example, the immune system relies heavily on T-cells, which are produced to fight off pathogens and ward off disease and infection. The circadian rhythm’s role to make sure that T-cells are produced and released into the bloodstream in proper amounts and at the right time so that the body can use them effectively.

Other aspects of the immune system known as cytokines are also heavily influenced by sleep. Cytokines are specific proteins released by immune cells that help with proper immune function. They also aid the body in cell signaling processes, which are important for many other systems.

When it comes to the immune system, these proteins can control the deployment of other immune cells that are needed to fight off infection when a pathogen invades the body. Essentially, they are the alarm system that goes off to alert the immune cells to respond to the threat. When someone gets proper sleep, their cytokines work as they should, and the immune system can fight another day. However, when they don’t, this aspect of immunity is compromised.

How are proper sleep and immunity linked?

Proper sleep and immunity are linked because of how sleep affects the action of immune cells and other processes that are required to alert the immune system to take action against pathogens.

T-cells, which we mentioned above, are designed to fight against pathogens that can reproduce inside the cells of the host they have infected. One particular study examined how T-cells were affected by sleep, and found that it is essential for a person to get enough good quality shut-eye in order for these cells to work. This is because of the way T-cells rely on certain molecules known as integrins.

Integrins provide adhesion that allows T-cells that come into contact with a pathogen to target, attach, and obliterate it. Without proper “stickiness”, this task becomes much harder and some pathogens can evade T-cells entirely. So what does this have to do with sleep?

When the body and brain are at rest, the adhesive capabilities of these molecules are much higher than when you’re awake. During sleep, immune cells also peak in specific areas of the body, such as in the lymph nodes. This peak is due to the hormone known as cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone. Levels of cortisol go up and down at various points of the day. Right before falling asleep, they are lower, and as soon as a person wakes up, levels peak to their highest of the day.

The reason why this is all tied to immunity and T-cells is because high levels of cortisol make integrins less adhesive. This means that if a person isn’t getting proper sleep and their cortisol cycle is out of tune, integrins may not be able to produce the adhesion that T-cells need to fight off pathogens. 

woman sleeping
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How many hours of sleep is good for the immune system?

Many studies have examined how much sleep each person needs for optimal health, and the agreed-upon number sits anywhere between seven to nine hours. While all people are different, this is typically the time it takes to go through the proper sleep cycles and receive all the benefits that sleep has on the immune system. However, it isn’t just quantity of sleep that’s necessary. Good quality sleep is far more important than the length of time a person spends asleep.

At the end of the day, sleep is vital to your immunity and your overall health, so getting enough good-quality shut-eye is something that everyone should prioritize.

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How Stress Can Influence Immune Function

Everybody experiences some form of stress – it’s just a normal part of everyday life. Whether it’s acute stress, such as having a really tough day at the office, or something more chronic because of a continually stressful situation or lifestyle, there isn’t a person on the planet who hasn’t felt this emotion at some point in their life.

The stress response is an evolutionary part of human existence and initially acted as a way to protect you from harm. However, it was designed solely for this purpose, and typically, when our ancestors were out of the stressful situation, their bodies returned to normal because the stress response was no longer needed.

Today, however, that initial stress response (also known as fight-or-flight) still works for you and your health, but it can be skewed in the sense that it may be activated for too long. When that happens, different bodily processes can be negatively affected. One such system that can be affected by stress is the immune system – but what is the role of stress in immunity, and can it make your immune function worse? Read on to learn more about how stress can influence immune function.

visual representation of stress
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What is the relationship between stress and the immune system?

The immune system acts as your body’s first line of defense, and technically speaking, stress can actually be helpful when it comes to your immune response. As mentioned above, stress was initially a psychological response that protected people against harm. In terms of the immune system, that initial response primes the body to be better prepared to fight off infection and avoid or heal any injuries a person may have from fleeing a dangerous situation.

Since the same rules don’t apply today (the stimuli our ancestors experienced were very different to the ones we experience today!), that stress response now invokes an immune response that isn’t necessarily needed. For example, if you get stressed while waiting in line for coffee while you’re late to work, your body isn’t in any real danger – but you’re still stressed. The physiological response is still the same, and the activation of your immune system to help heal injury or prevent infection will still occur, even though it isn’t really needed.

How does stress affect the immune system?

Stress can affect the immune system in many ways because of the way it influences various bodily systems that tie into immunity. For example, the bowel is a large part of immunity since it houses immune cells needed to fight off infection. Stress can cause issue with the bowel that can lead to various unpleasant symptoms.

When it comes to immunity, stressful situations can reduce the amount of nutrients that are absorbed into the body and the gut bacteria can become imbalanced. The immune system can become weakened when the nutrients it needs are not getting absorbed, and when gut bacteria are off balance, immune function also falters. 

The nervous system also gets activated during times of stress. During this activation, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released. These are designed to help the body prepare for battle, so to speak – but when there is no battle, the body doesn’t really benefit from their release.

An overproduction of cortisol that is not used appropriately, or remains high due to constant and chronic stress, hinders the action of the immune system. This is because too-high levels of cortisol end up causing the immune system to become less responsive to the hormone, thus increasing the production of inflammatory cells that hinder the immune system’s function.  

stressed person using laptop and talking on phone
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Cortisol also has the ability to disrupt how well the immune system works because of its effect on the endocrine system. The endocrine system acts as a series of messengers throughout the body to regulate the action or organs and glands. Because acute levels of stress cause inflammation to occur due to the production of cortisol, chronic stress drives chronic inflammation.

When the body’s inflammatory process isn’t acting as it should, the immune system does not activate when it needs to, because the connection between it and the glands that produce stress hormones is compromised.Altogether, when chronic inflammation and the connection pathways in the body are hindered, you are more at risk of chronic diseases.

Can stress cause a weak immune system?

As mentioned above, stress can weaken the immune system. While acute stress isn’t as much of an issue, chronic stress can cause real problems. Brief periods of acute stress are a normal and typical response that leads to the re-regulation of the immune system once the stressful situation has passed. Chronic stress, on the other hand, drives crossed wires and poor functioning because the body is in a constant state of stress when there is no actual situation that it needs protection from.

While avoiding stress completely is essentially impossible, one of the best things you can do for your immune system is practice stress reduction techniques. This could include meditation, practicing a hobby you enjoy, or exercising regularly. Keeping overall stress levels down as much as possible will ensure any acute stress you experience doesn’t stick around to harm your health in the long run.

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Can Peptides Help With The Immune System?

Having a well-functioning immune system is one of the most important aspects of bodily health. After all, our immunity is what keeps us safe from disease and infection. Without the immune system working as it should, people become more likely to experience frequent infections, more severe symptoms, and even the onset of various chronic diseases.

Many things can be done to ensure that your immune system is functioning as it should, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, keeping up with proper hygiene, and avoiding coming into contact with pathogens when possible. That said, those staples of immune health aren’t the only roads you can take to keep yourself protected and your immune system running at its best.

One other avenue that has become increasingly popular for immune health is the use of peptides. But what exactly are they? And can peptides help with the immune system? Read on to learn more.

What are peptides?

Peptides are strings of amino acids, which are what many people refer to as the “building blocks” of proteins. Proteins are important because of how they influence cells that are tasked with maintaining the structure, function, and regulation of tissues and organs. Peptides can be both naturally occurring and taken in synthetic form.

Naturally occurring peptides form within the body during a process known as transcription, which happens when certain DNA gene sequences are copied and turned into messengers to provide code or instructions. They are used to produce or build various vital substances within the body such as hormones, enzymes, cells, and tissues.

Lab-created peptides are designed to act in the same way as the natural peptides the body creates. Recent research has seen synthetic peptides being used to develop viable medications for a large number of different diseases.  

dna chain
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Is there a connection between peptides and the immune system?

Since peptides play a role in virtually every aspect of human health, their connection to the immune system is strong. Various things can affect how the immune system functions, such as hormones, cells, and the health of certain organs. The immune system requires symbiosis throughout the body for it to do its best work, and peptides play a large role in that symbiosis by influencing other substances within the body.

Are peptides good for the immune system?

While naturally occurring peptides play a vital role in immunity, studies on using synthetic peptides for their immune capabilities have also found that they may be beneficial in a variety of ways. One particular study looked at the influence peptides had on the immune response in conjunction with vaccination against diseases, finding that using peptides to create vaccinations could be highly effective at creating the right immune response at the right time. 

Other research has investigated how peptides can influence innate immunity, which is the defense system essentially built in to every person’s body. It doesn’t react to specific pathogens, but it still has two important roles: it prevents access to the body through the use of barriers such as the skin, and it acts as an alarm system that sets off an immune response so that specific antibodies and immune cells can be created to fight specific pathogens.

One particular study investigated key antimicrobial peptides and how they help to form innate immunity. The research shows that these peptides have worked as a team against microbes for hundreds of millions of years. This has led researchers to believe that antimicrobial peptides could open the door to forming new and more viable antibiotics.

What peptides boost the immune system?

While all peptides have their own respective tasks within the body, some may be better for the immune system than others. Those include:


Sermorelin is also referred to as growth-hormone releasing hormone, or GHRH. As the name suggests, it helps with the release of growth hormone. It has 44 amino acids and is produced in a small region in the brain known as the hypothalamus. When sermorelin helps to release human-growth hormone to maintain overall levels, it can reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation, although useful in some cases, can cause dysfunction within the immune system, so reducing it overall can help to curb any issues.


Ipamorelin is another type of peptide that acts on human growth hormone, but is released from the pituitary gland, a small gland located in at the base of the brain. The action of ipamorelin is similar to semorelin in that it helps to stimulate the release of growth hormones.

peptide injection
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Another peptide that affects human growth hormone is CJC-1295. It is a synthetic peptide that has been used to mimic the actions of ipamoreline and sermorelin. When someone takes this peptide as a way to address certain health issues, it can lead to a more active immune response that helps fight off invading pathogens.

Thymosin Alpha-1

Thymosin Alpha-1 is a type of peptide hormone produced within the thymus gland, which can be found in the middle of the upper chest area. According to research, this peptide has a way of helping the immune system by improving the response of immune cells known as T-cells, as well as activating other immune cells known as natural killer cells. It can also help to mediate inflammation so that the body reacts the way it’s supposed to against illness or disease.

Peptides, both naturally occurring and synthetic, can be part of a healthy immune system and play a vital role in your body’s defenses.

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The Role Of Antioxidants In Immune Function

The human body requires many different substances to run properly. For example, oxygen is required to make sure that every cell in the body can use the energy provided by food. Nutrients are converted into energy that each cell in the body uses to perform basic functions and regulate chemicals and other substances.

Since each process within the body is separate, it may seem as though one aspect can exist without the other. However, all these separate processes rely on the other to ensure that they can do their job properly. Think of your body as a super-efficient factory that needs every linesperson doing their part to complete the project.

One such process that requires a lot of outside help is the immune system. Immunity is your body’s defense system and protects you against illness, but without nutrients and other systems running as they should, that defense system can become powerless to stop infection or chronic disease. One particular piece of the immunity puzzle is antioxidants – but what are antioxidants, exactly, and what is the role of antioxidants in immune function?

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are important molecules that exist within the body and can also be consumed through diet. They are mostly found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods. Some vitamins, including vitamins E and C, can effectively act as antioxidants within the body as well.

close up of blueberries
Image by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash: Blueberries contain powerful antioxidants for immunity.

What is the role of antioxidants?

Antioxidants play an important role in the body because they neutralize free radicals, which are compounds that help to fight off pathogens. Free radicals can react with other molecules with ease, and because of this, they can cause certain reactions known as oxidation. Oxidation can be both good and bad, depending on how much it occurs.

Antioxidants and free radicals need to be in balance so that they can support your health. If the body doesn’t get enough antioxidants, free radicals can build up, and when levels are too high, they can cause damage to proteins, fatty tissue, and even your DNA.

Too much oxidation within the body can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress and the damage caused by an overabundance of free radicals can lead to chronic disease such as inflammatory conditions, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.

Do antioxidants help your immune system?

Both antioxidants and free radicals have an effect on the immune system. It’s because of free radicals that antioxidants are important for immunity. Since free radicals are helpful when they are in balance, as mentioned above, they need to remain at a steady level. Antioxidants help to achieve that stabilization.

To understand the process in more complex terms, we have to understand how immunity and free radicals are connected. Neutrophils are cells that are part of the immune system. They are tasked with regulating how B-cells, or immune cells, respond to pathogens. When there is a pathogen present in the body, these neutrophils begin working their magic.

When they become activated, they produce free radicals as part of the inflammatory process. While many people think of inflammation as a bad thing, it is actually an important step in defense process, because it acts as a sort of signal to where in the body immune cells need to go. Free radicals are needed for that inflammatory process. When there are too many free radicals, and the inflammatory process is occurring all over the place, the immune system doesn’t know how to react. That is where antioxidants come in to balance it all out for proper immune protection and response.

Another important immunity task in which antioxidants may play a role is hindering the free radicals’ ability to help viruses replicate within the body. They help to interfere with this process when a virus or other pathogen comes into the body to cause harm. According to research, the antioxidants’ ability to do this may even help in the treatment of certain viral diseases.  

person suffering infection
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Is there a connection between antioxidants and antibodies?

Another important aspect of antioxidant stores within the body is the way they help with antibodies, which are specialized proteins designed to fight off infection. Antibodies are created by the immune system in response to certain pathogens and are specifically designed to fight off one type of virus or other illness. For example, if a person were to get a particular strain of the flu, their body would create antibodies that remember that specific strain. If that strain of flu came around again, those specialized antibodies would be ready to fight off the infection.

This is connected to antioxidants because research has found that these helpful molecules can actually aid in producing more antibodies in response to an infection. One study examined antibody levels in healthy older adults who were given vitamin E supplements to act as antioxidants. When the subjects of the study were given hepatitis B and tetanus vaccines, it was found that they had a more powerful immune response.

This draws the conclusion that antioxidants not only neutralize free radicals, allowing the body’s immune system to function as it should, but they also play a role in the power and number of viable antibodies protecting the body against infection.

While antioxidants aren’t the be-all-end-all when it comes to immune health, they certainly play a larger role than medical researchers once thought in protecting you against both infection and chronic disease.

Featured image by Valery Fedotov on Unsplash

Does HGH Help Your Immune System?

The past few years have brought the importance of the immune system front and center for many people. The onset of a global pandemic has made being healthy enough to fight off a viral infection even more vital. With rising cases and death tolls, there has been a lot of talk about which medications, supplements, or other factors could be used to improve the body’s ability to battle against infection.

One such supplement that has been explored for its effects on immunity is HGH, otherwise known as human growth hormone. But what is HGH, exactly? What can it do for the overall health of the body? And does HGH help your immune system?

What is HGH?

HGH, also known as somatotropin, is a type of peptide hormone that is naturally occurring in the body. It is secreted by the pituitary gland, a bean-shaped gland that sits at the base of the brain. The hormone itself consists of one chain of amino acids. The number of amino acids on the single chain is 191.

The production of the hormone is regulated by other hormones. One in particular, growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), is mainly responsible for its production. GHRH is produced in the hypothalamus, which is another gland located in the brain. Other hormones involved in controlling HGH production include somatostatin and ghrelin.

HGH is produced on an hourly basis, so the body always has some level of HGH secretion happening. The highest levels can be seen following exercise, sleep, or trauma, and nighttime is when the hormone peaks at its highest level.

white blood cells
Image by FLY:D on Unsplash: Does HGH increase white blood cells?

What does HGH do in the body?

HGH is most commonly associated with growth during childhood, as well as the health of the metabolism. It helps bones and cartilage grow during the early years of a person’s life. The release of HGH activates certain proteins that are involved in cell signaling and drive bone-forming cells to replicate. This process of cell signaling also leads to an increase in cellular growth and gene replication.

HGH plays a role in the function of a person’s metabolism by upregulating the insulin-like growth factor 1 – a polypeptide hormone that is similar to insulin in structure. When that regulation occurs because of HGH, protein synthesis and amino acid uptake increase within the body. HGH can also reduce how much glucose is found in the muscles and tissues.

Recent research has also found that there is more to HGH than was once previously thought, and that it can actually play various roles, including helping to regulate the composition of the body and maintain healthy heart function.

What are the positive effects of HGH?

When looking at HGH from a supplemental standpoint, there are several positive effects it can have. Since HGH is highest in childhood and plays a role in growth and development, recent research has looked into whether or not the hormone can help with issues that may arise due to low levels of natural HGH, such as a decreased ability to exercise, muscle mass loss, and lower bone density. It was found that taking an oral supplement of HGH did help to restore higher levels in healthy adults.

People with certain health issues may also benefit from HGH because it causes levels to deplete or affects the body’s ability to hold onto muscle mass. Some conditions that could benefit include muscle loss caused by HIV/AIDS or short bowel syndrome. The most positive effects of HGH are associated with increasing a person’s endurance and exercise tolerability. Other claims have been made surrounding its use in anti-aging, but these have not been clinically proven as yet.

supplement pills
Image by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash: Do HGH supplements really work?

Is there a connection between HGH and the immune system?

HGH has been found to play a crucial role in the development of the immune system throughout childhood. Because of this, there have been many claims that it could also help immune function as an adult. There is some research to back up these claims, but a lot of it revolves around certain diseases that cause the immune system to become weak.

For example, one study looked at HGH as a way to control COVID-19. The researchers found that many patients who were more vulnerable to the worst effects of the viral infection were found to be deficient in HGH. While the study called for more research surrounding HGH and COVID-19, it is their thought that HGH could potentially be helpful in reducing the risk of severe disease in those who contract the infection due to a weakened immune system. 

A clinical trial conducted on HGH and immunity also found that there was a connection between the immune system and the growth hormone. Specifically, the connection was because of the effect HGH has on the thymus, an irregular-shaped gland that produces immune cells known as T-lymphocytes. The trial found that HGH could actually stimulate the production of more disease-fighting cells, essentially boosting the immune system by promoting growth of the thymus.

While more research is needed to shed light on HGH and what it can do for both the overall health of the body and the function of the immune system, recent studies have found that it plays a much larger role than simply helping people grow during childhood.

Featured image by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Winter Immunity Diet Guidelines

When many people think of a winter diet, their mind goes directly to warm comfort food. In some cases, such food is just that: comforting. However, it can also be full of not-so-good-for-you ingredients such as extra fats, excess carbohydrates, and sugar. Unfortunately, even if these types of foods taste good, they’re doing your body a disservice, especially when it comes to your immune health.

During the winter months, there are fewer things more important than keeping your immune system running optimally. With cold and flu season and the added concern of COVID-19, immune health this winter has never been more important. The good news is that even during the winter months you can do certain things to keep your immune system functioning at its best, keeping your body in fighting shape if you do happen to encounter a virus or other pathogen.

How can I boost my immune system in winter?

There are many things you can do during the winter months to keep your immune system ready for battle, so to speak. They include:


Exercise has been proven to help boost immune function. While most types of exercise will do, it’s best to keep it at a moderate pace and do it regularly. This could include lifting weights for roughly 30 minutes a day or going for a walk brisk walk outside. The only thing you’ll want to avoid is pushing your body too far, because exercise that’s too intense has actually been shown to have negative effects.

winter foods
Image by Davies Designs Studio on Unsplash: Are there any winter foods that boost your immune system? Read on to find out!

Get enough sleep

In the winter months, your sleep schedule may be compromised due to a lack of sunlight during the day and what feels like less time to accomplish the things you need to do. But sleep and immunity go hand in hand, so it’s important that you get the right amount of quality sleep during the winter months to ensure your immune system is ready to go if faced with infection.

Reduce stress where possible

Stress isn’t always avoidable – it’s often just a part of life. The unfortunate thing about this is that stress can actually hinder your immune system’s ability to ward off infection. To make sure you have the strongest immune system possible during the winter months, you’ll want to practice stress reduction techniques as much as possible to keep your stress levels at bay. Why not try a yoga practice or meditation session to keep yourself calm?

Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for immune health. But there’s less sunshine in the winter, and that means your body isn’t getting the same amount of vitamin D that it does the rest of the year. If you can’t get outside as much in winter because of where you live, you might want to supplement with vitamin D or ensure that your diet has a lot of vitamin D-rich foods to keep your levels up.

What should I eat to stay healthy in winter?

What you eat during the winter to stay healthy is very similar to what you need to eat all year round to keep your body in good shape. Wholefoods, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources are all good options to keep your body in fighting shape.

The foods that are most important when it comes to a healthy and well-rounded winter diet include:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables: These have high levels of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. If you can’t get fresh fruit and veg, opt for frozen over canned, as frozen options retain much of their nutrients more effectively.
  • Healthy fats: Healthy fats play a role in the cellular response and function of immune cells. Healthy fats in the diet can include olive oil, avocado, and salmon.
  • Fermented foods: Fermented foods help keep the gut bacteria balanced, which is important for immune health. Some fermented foods to add to your diet include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.
  • High-fiber foods: Wholegrains and legumes are great fiber sources. Fiber helps to keep the gut healthy, which in turn helps the immune system. 
  • Spices: Spices such as turmeric, black pepper, garlic, and ginger each possess their own immune-boosting properties.
  • Lean means: Protein is vital for immune function, and lean meats are a great source.

As mentioned above, your body gets less vitamin D in the winter, so eating food that is high in vitamin D is also a great place to start for your winter immunity diet. Foods high in vitamin D include:

  • Salmon, herring, and sardines
  • Canned tuna
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D such as orange juice, oatmeal, and some milks

When getting enough vitamin D through diet, you’ll always want to ensure that you’re getting enough calcium as well. Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption in the body, so if you aren’t getting enough of it, your body won’t be able to absorb the calcium you do eat – which is not a good thing, because both these elements are important for immune health.

plate of winter food
Image by Mark DeYoung on Unsplash: What should I eat during winter?

The immune system relies heavily on various nutrients to ensure that it runs properly. These include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D (as mentioned above)
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Protein

To ensure you’re getting enough of each, try to make sure you’re eating some or all of the aforementioned foods. For example, lean meats can provide you with a good amount of protein, zinc, selenium, and iron. Good choices would be lean beef, turkey, chicken, shrimp, lobster, or fish. Vitamin C can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables, which you can serve alongside your protein.

You also want to make sure you’re staying hydrated in winter. While it can be tempting to stick to hot cocoa and other warm winter beverages, plain water is best. If you do wish to have a warm drink, try mixing warm water with lemon and honey for the perfect winter beverage to help you stay warm and hydrated.

The secret to a winter diet that’s good for your immune system? Getting all the important nutrients the body needs all year round. Happy cooking!

Featured image by Farhad Ibrahimzade on Unsplash

11 Vitamins, Nutrients & Peptides That Boost Immune Function

While immunity is an important part of everyday life, it’s hasn’t always been front and center when people think about their overall health. However, that has changed in recent years. Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, many people have begun thinking more seriously about their immune health. After all, the immune system is the first line of defense against pathogens such as the one that causes COVID-19. 

With more people than ever now focused on this type of preventive health care – the type that aims to prevent bad infections as opposed to simply treating them – natural and dietary health avenues are being explored more frequently. Those natural avenues tend to center around nutrients from food and other supplementation that can help give the body a boost when it needs it most.

Why is immune function important in the winter?

The immune system is important all year round, but it’s especially vital during the cold months. This is often when cold and flu seasons are at their peak. To complicate things further, research shows that cold temperatures also suppresses the immune system and provides viruses with optimal living conditions. These two factors play a large role in why it’s vital to keep your immune system in tip-top shape throughout the winter months.

No one wants to fall ill, and making sure that the immune system is running at its best is the only way to ensure that even if you do come into contact with a flu, cold, or even COVID, your body is prepared to fight it off and bounce back.

Image by WikimediaImages on Pixabay: How do peptides help the immune system?

Peptides that boost immune function

Peptides are naturally occurring strings of amino acids that the body produces on its own. Unlike the typical amino acids that act as building blocks of protein, peptides are shorter chains, meaning they have fewer amino acids. That doesn’t mean they’re less important for health, just that they have different tasks to perform. One such task is making sure that the immune system gets the boost it needs to run properly.

Peptides naturally occur in the body; however, to boost your levels, you can eat foods that are high in protein such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, whole grains, and beans. Peptides can also be found isolated in supplement form.

Some of the best peptides for immune health include:

Thymosin Alpha 1

Thymosin Alpha 1 is perhaps one of the most well-known peptides. It aids immune function and has also been used in the treatment of certain diseases. The peptide helps immune function by enhancing the action of immune cells known as killer T-cells so they’re better prepared to fight off infection.It also positively affects the action of dendric cells, which help to mediate the immune response on a cellular level.


Thymalin regulates the thymus, a gland that is key to producing T-lymphocytes, or immune cells, that aid in the adaptive immune response.Without proper amounts of this peptide, those cells will not be produced in adequate numbers and the immune system will suffer.


Also known as insulin growth factor one, IGF 1 binds to a receptor known as IGF 1R to encourage cell production throughout the entire body. Cells that are created include T-cells, which aid in immunity.


GHRP 6 acts as ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone. Its job is to invoke the action of IGF 1 so that more immune cells are created, thus boosting immunity.

CJC 1295

CJC 1295 affects the growth hormone, causing it to be released. This leads to a reaction that causes the thymus to create T-cells.

Vitamins that boost immune function

Vitamins are needed for the body to function, and many of them play a vital role in the immune system. Some vitamins that are good for boosting immune health include:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the most well-known immune booster, and for good reason. Research shows that vitamin C helps immune function by supporting cellular responses in both the adaptive and the innate immune systems. It can also prevent the entry of pathogens through the skin by supporting skin barrier function. Vitamin C can also enhance the body’s ability to fight off disease by accumulating certain phagocytic cells.

This vitamin can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as oranges, strawberries, and red bell peppers.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 has the ability to boost the immune response because it helps to increase the production of antibodies in the system, and enhances the way cytokines and chemokines interact with one another (cytokines and chemokines are molecules within the body that aid in cell signaling).

Vitamin B6 can be found in seafood, fortified cereals, and chickpeas.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in high concentrations in immune cells; it aids the cells in modulating immune function. It also helps to regulate T-cells, improve the integrity of immune cells so that they are safe from damage, and encourage proper cell division.

The best sources of vitamin E include plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, and dark, leafy greens.

sliced orange
Image by Xiaolong Wong on Unsplash: What is the most powerful immune booster? Vitamin C is one you might have heard of!

Nutrients that boost immune function

Other nutrients that play a vital role in boosting immune function include:


Zinc is a chemical element that has been shown to aid in the development and function of certain immune cells such as natural killer cells and neutrophils.

Red meat and poultry contain high levels of zinc.


Selenium has been shown to help lower oxidative stress, which occurs when free radicals outnumber antioxidants and cause inflammation within the body. Inflammation can hinder the immune system, so having enough selenium can help to lower the risk of immune-suppressing inflammation.

Broccoli, spinach, and green peas are great sources of selenium.


Iron is an important part of immune health because of the crucial role it plays in the maturation of immune cells. One type of cell that benefits from adequate iron levels are lymphocytes, which help with specific responses against certain pathogens.

Iron can be included in your diet through foods such as red meat, beans, and dark, leafy greens, or through supplementation.

Featured image by Scott Warman on Unsplash

Are Peptides Part Of The Immune System?

The body is a complex system made up of various elements that operate symbiotically. Within each part of the body, there are many different things working together to keep you healthy. For example, the cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, blood vessels, and blood; the heart muscle pumps blood throughout the body using blood vessels to ensure that the cells within the blood can carry oxygen to the tissues and other organs. Cells within the blood are also tasked with other jobs as they use the bloodstream to make their way around.

This is just one example of how different parts of the body function together, and thus rely heavily on one another to ensure optimal health. When it comes to the immune system and its function, various different facets of the body are involved to make sure you’re protected from viruses, bacteria, and any other type of pathogen that may invade your body.

The immune system itself is made up of special organs, both specialized and non-specialized cells, and other chemicals. The main components include white blood cells, antibodies, the spleen, the thymus, the bone marrow, the complement system, and the lymphatic system. Molecules called peptides may also play a role in immune health – but what are peptides, exactly? And are peptides part of the immune system?

person slicing meat
Image by José Ignacio Pompé on Unsplash: Peptides can be found in many animal products, such as meat.

What are peptides?

Peptides are naturally occurring molecules that are similar to proteins, only smaller in size. Outside the body, peptides are also artificially processed to be used in many cosmetic and health-focused products because of their alleged benefits, such as anti-aging capabilities, anti-inflammatory properties, and muscle-building abilities.

Peptides are often confused with proteins because the two are made up of amino acids, which are organic compounds that contain certain chemicals to be used and combined to form proteins in the body. However, although the two are both made from amino acids, peptides do not contain as many amino acids as proteins do.

Peptides can be found in food sources such as:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Meat
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Soy
  • Oats
  • Flaxseed
  • Beans and lentils
  • Wheat
  • Hemp seeds

Research surrounding the health benefits of peptides has been largely focused on bioactive peptides. When supplements or cosmetics are created using peptides, they are often taken from the aforementioned sources.

What do peptides do to your body?

Peptides are easier for the body to absorb and break down because of their smaller size. They can also penetrate the skin as well as the intestines more easily. Because of this, they are able to make it into the bloodstream faster than proteins are.

There are various types of peptides, all of which have their own proposed health benefits. For example, collagen peptides are thought to be beneficial for skin health. They are also viewed as helpful aids in anti-aging products. Creatine peptides, on the other hand, have been seen to help build both strength and muscle mass in humans.

Other benefits that may be attached to the use of peptides include:

  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Helping to mitigate oxidative stress because of their ability to act as antioxidants
  • Preventing blood clot formation

Research has also found that peptides may be able to improve immune function. 

Do peptides help with the immune system?

Studies have found that certain peptides can act as immunomodulators. This means that taking peptides may help to regulate how the immune system functions, thus improving how it reacts to certain pathogens and mitigating overreaction that can drive widespread inflammation throughout the body.

It’s thought that peptides have this ability because of the way the immune system reacts to proteins. When a pathogen enters the body, the T-cells of the immune system become activated. These T-cells require several different proteins to be able to signal properly, because the amino acids that reside on the surfaces of protein cells help the immune cells in their actions. Peptides mimic the action of these proteins, and therefore help to modulate the immune system’s response.

immune system defense
Image by Bru-nO on Pixabay: Peptides have been shown to be helpful in fighting off infections and disease. 

Do peptides cause an immune response?

Peptides also have the ability to stimulate an immune response. Because of this, peptides may be able to add an extra layer of protection against cancer and other diseases. When peptides act as proteins, modulate the immune system, and stimulate it when appropriate, the molecules are working in a way that ensures the body’s immune function is where it needs to be.

In terms of peptides and the action of antibodies, research has found that they could actually act similarly. Antibodies form in response to a pathogen and are designed to rid the body of cells that are causing disease. Peptide-based drugs lack certain structures that antibodies have – structures that can often make them unstable. Because of this, peptides can simply act the same as an antibody but remain far more stable.

While research is still ongoing when it comes to peptides and how they affect the immune system, there is enough viable evidence to show that peptides are promising molecules in the fight against weakened immunity and chronic disease.

Featured image by Wikimediaimages on Pixabay

6 Activities That Boost Immune Function

The way your immune system functions will determine your overall level of health. After all, it is the first line of defense your body has against pathogens and chronic illness. When the immune system is in good working order, the body is able to fight off infections more easily, which is a vital component of staying healthy.

Everyone’s immune system could use a little boost from time to time, especially in this day and age. Things such as leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating the wrong foods, and not getting enough sleep can all negatively affect how the immune system does its job. But by addressing specific lifestyle factors and performing activities that boost immune function, you can give your system the jolt it needs to protect you and your health.

How can I naturally boost my immune system?

There are plenty of ways to naturally boost your immune system. Many are simple lifestyle changes that can be implemented seamlessly into your daily routine. Let’s take a look at some specific immune-boosting activities everyone should do get that extra level of protection.

1. Get some shut-eye

Sleep and immune function work together symbiotically. This means that the amount and the quality of sleep you’re getting will be crucial in how well your immune system responds if pathogens enter your system.

Sleep doesn’t just affect one facet of the immune system, but several, as research has shown. For example, sleep and the circadian system, or the body’s natural sleep-cycle regulator, work together to help regulate the immune system. Both sleep and the circadian system help the body to communicate with the immune system, and when that communication is disrupted, it can lead to weakened immune function.

During sleep, your body has lower levels of stress hormones that can lessen the function of molecules called integrins. These molecules are designed to help immune cells known as T-cells stick to viruses to rid them from the body. When those hormones are lowered, the integrins are more well-equipped to help T-cells get into contact with infected cells and thus get them out of the body.

woman meditating - immune-boosting activities
Image by Mor Shani on Unsplash: What is the fastest way to boost the immune system? Change up your lifestyle a little.

2. Practice mindful meditation

Mindful meditation is a practice designed to enhance awareness in daily life. Research has shown that this practice, when performed regularly, can help to increase the function of the immune system. It does this by modulating certain immune functions, such as the proinflammatory processes, enzyme production, and cell-mediated defense.

These parameters are important because they play direct roles in the immune function. For example, the proinflammatory process can cause an abundance of inflammation, which is bad for the immune system; and enzymes are needed to help protect against cell aging, which can decrease how well the immune system works.

3. Get moving

Exercise is important for overall health, but when it comes to the immune system, it is especially crucial to get the body moving on a regular basis. Research has shown that regular exercise can help to modulate the immune system. It does this by encouraging the circulation of important immune cells known as lymphocytes. During and after exercise, the body also releases other immune cells known as cytokines, which are crucial in protecting the body.

4. Adopt a positive mindset

It’s not possible to think happy thoughts every hour of every day. Everyone experiences annoyances and struggles. But having a positive mindset towards negative situations can help to increase how the immune system functions in the long run.

Research has shown that focusing on the positives help people increase the strength of their immune systems. One specific study had participants look at both positive and negative images. They were later asked to think about the experiment and underwent blood tests to determine immune function. The participants who remembered more positive images had better immune functioning for up to two years following the experiment.

This just goes to show that thinking about the silver lining can have a great impact on how well your body fights off illness.

5. Learn to cook

Diet may not be everything when it comes to healthy living, but it does make up a huge portion of how well the body works. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients will help to keep the immune system running as it should.

Research has shown that when a person is deficient in any nutrient, it can affect the way the body produces antibodies for pathogens as well as other immune cells. For example, natural killer cells are required to help contain infections within the body so that other immune cells can prepare to clear them out. These natural killer cells rely on having enough B6 and B12 within the body to keep them ready and able to do their job.

Learning to cook and eat with intention can help you get all the nutrients you need because you will be more in control of what goes into your body, and thus more in control of the fuel you give your immune system. 

people learning to cook
Image by Edgar Castrejon on Unplash: How do you strengthen a weak immune system? Learn how to make healthy meals.

6. Spend more time outside

Being out in the great outdoors is great for both physical and mental health, but it can also positively affect how well the immune system functions. This is because the immune system needs vitamin D, and being outside is the best way to get it.

The immune system is vital to overall health, and keeping it running at its best will help you stave off illnesses and decrease your risk of developing chronic disease later in life.

Featured image by Church of the King on Unsplash

14 Immune-Boosting Winter Foods To Fight Off Illness

The immune system can always use an extra boost, but that is especially true in the winter months. During the winter, colds and flus typically affect people in higher numbers because people are more likely to stay in enclosed spaces for longer and because viruses thrive in the cold, low-humidity conditions.

Making sure your immune system is up to par when flu season rolls around is crucial to warding off illness and keeping yourself healthy all year round. There are plenty of things you can do to stay on top of your immune function – including eating some immune-boosting winter foods.

What are home remedies to boost your immune system?

There are a few things you can do for your immune system that require little effort and can be done from the comfort of your own home. Getting enough quality sleep is vital to immune health because the less quality sleep a person gets, the more likely their immune system will weaken, leaving them open to illness.

Moderate exercise is also a great way to help improve the functionality of the immune system. Research has shown that people who engage in moderate exercise regularly, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, light hiking, and biking, show an improvement in the way their immune system functions. The one caveat is that the activity shouldn’t be too intense, as intense bouts of exercise can actually suppress immune function.  

Staying hydrated is also a simple way to keep the immune system up to par. Dehydration can cause a variety of ailments such as headaches, mood imbalances, and heart and kidney issues, and when the body is fighting to stay healthy on its own, it has a hard time fighting off pathogens. It’s also worth noting that keeping stress levels down can have a positive effect on immune function. You can reduce stress through relaxation exercises such as meditation or yoga.  

Vital RX - winter exercise
Image by Einar H. Reynis on Unsplash: How do I boost my immune system to fight a cold? Try some moderate exercise such as jogging.

What foods boost your immune system when sick?

Diet is the best way to ensure that your immune system is running at its best. If a cold or flu has already taken hold of your body, there are specific foods that can lessen the duration and severity of the illness by boosting your immune function and getting you back to health.

  1. Broths. Broths are great when you’re sick because they keep you hydrated, are easy to stomach, and contain vital nutrients that the immune system needs to be ready for battle.
  2. Garlic. Garlic has both antibacterial and antiviral effects, so it’s a great addition to your diet if you’ve caught a cold. It has been shown to help stimulate the immune system.
  3. Honey. Honey is full of antimicrobial compounds, which give it antibacterial effects. This has led to honey being used to help people ward off illnesses and get over common flus and colds.
  4. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is bland enough to eat while sick but also packs a punch when it comes to helping you get over that pesky cold. Oats contain beta-glucans, which stimulate the immune response.
  5. Berries. The immune-boosting effects of berries come from polyphenols, a type of antioxidant.
  6. Green leafy vegetables. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach have vitamin C, beta carotene, and antioxidants. When consumed regularly, they can give the body a better chance at fighting off infection.  
  7. Citrus fruits. Citrus fruits are full of vitamin C, a vital nutrient for immune health. The vitamin plays a role in the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infection. Having more white blood cells will make the immune response stronger.
  8. Yogurt. Natural yogurt is high in vitamin D, a nutrient that helps regulate the immune system and its response to outside invaders.Vitamin D can also be found in supplement form, and in Vital RX’s Immune Health Subscription Box.
  9. Bell peppers. Bell peppers have both vitamin C and beta-carotene, two crucial nutrients for optimal immune health.
  10. Sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are a great immunity booster because they are full of nutrients that help immune function, such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
  11. Kiwi. When the body is fighting off an infection, it needs all the nutrients it can get. The kiwifruit is a superfood of sorts and is full of essential nutrients such as folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
  12. Almonds. The immune system requires vitamin E to do its job; almonds are packed with this nutrient.
  13. Papaya. Another vitamin C-packed fruit that you can eat while sick is papaya. The fruit also contains a specific digestive enzyme known as papain that lowers inflammation throughout the body.
  14. Shellfish. Shellfish may not be your first thought when considering immune-boosting foods, but they are a great food to eat when sick. This is because they have a ton of zinc, a mineral that helps immune cells function properly.

This list, although not exhaustive, is a great place to start when thinking about boosting your immune system this winter. The important thing to remember is the vital nutrients that are needed to help ward off infection and keep the immune system running strongly.

Specific nutrients that are vital to immune health include:

  • Vitamin C. (Spinach, kale, strawberries)
  • Vitamin E. (Nuts, seeds, oils)
  • Vitamin A. (Carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash)
  • Vitamin D. (Salmon, tuna, fortified cereals)
  • Folate/Folic acid. (Enriched foods such as pasta, bread, and rice)
  • Iron. (Red meat, chicken, turkey, beans, broccoli)
  • Selenium. (Seafood, poultry, cottage cheese)
  • Zinc. (Baked beans, yogurt, chickpeas)
Vital RX - shrimp
Image by Elle Hughes on Unsplash: Shellfish such as shrimp pack a lot of iron, an immune-boosting food.

If the immune system is functioning properly, it becomes a lot harder for pathogens to infiltrate the body. Eating immune-boosting foods all year round is a great way to keep your health up to par, but adding them in when temperatures start to drop can be a great immunity boost in winter.

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Can Thymosin α-1 Treat Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized as extreme tiredness or fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest. The syndrome is unlikely to be attributed to an underlying medical condition, so it can be hard to pinpoint where it’s coming from and how it started in the first place. It is sometimes referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic exertion intolerance disease.

Since the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome isn’t easy to determine, treatment options can also be difficult to attain. Some research suggests that the condition can be caused by various ailments, including viral infection or chronic stress. The only way to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome is by ruling out other conditions, making the illness rather difficult to diagnose and treat.

Does chronic fatigue syndrome affect the immune system?

In people with chronic fatigue syndrome, the immune system can become compromised. This is because when chronic fatigue takes a hold of the body, it can lead to a prolonged immune response where none is needed. This results in the immune system attacking the body’s own healthy tissues.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is not an autoimmune disease per se, but it does share a significant amount of features with such conditions. Researchers believe that is affects the immune system in several ways, including the overproduction of cytokines; lowered ability of natural killer cells to defend against pathogens; and changes in T-cell activation.

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Image by Who Is Margot on Pixabay: Chronic fatigue is hard to diagnose, but people who suffer from the condition could benefit from thymosin alpha-1 treatment.

What is thymosin alpha-1?

Thymosin alpha-1 is a naturally occurring fragmented peptide. This means that is a smaller version of a protein molecule. It is made up of a 28-amino acid chain that is derived from a larger protein known as prothymosin α. It is created in tissues throughout the body, the most notable being the thymus gland.

Peptides such as thymosin alpha-1 are microscopic, but play vital roles in how well the body functions. They are the regulators of a myriad of specific bodily functions. The regulation of T-cells and immune response is thymosin alpha-1’s specific function. The thymus gland plays a big role in T-cell health as they grow; when they reach maturity, thymosin alpha-1 acts a cell signaler for the T-cells so that they know when to fight off pathogens.

What does thymosin do in the body?

Researchers have found many important processes can be affected by thymosin alpha-1. As mentioned above, one of the peptide’s biggest roles is to regulate and cell-signal for proper functioning of the immune system. It does this by directly affecting the action of the innate immune system in response to pathogens. It also regulates both the adaptive immune responses and the inflammatory response. The release of thymosin alpha-1 has been shown to increase lymphocytes to help the body ward off illness.

Thymosin alpha-1 also has the ability to heighten the body’s chances at fighting off infection. In one particular study on the effects of the peptide against COVID-19, researchers found that it could significantly reduce the risk of mortality of the viral infection by restoring T-cell numbers and reversing T-cell exhaustion.

Other conditions that have seen benefit from the use of thymosin alpha include:

  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Autoimmunity
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lyme disease
  • DiGeorge’s syndrome

For many conditions that require a boost in the immune function, thymosin alpha-1 has been an effective supplemental treatment.

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Image by Swift Science Writing on Pixabay: Immune cells are designed to fight off infection, but sometimes they need a little boost to do their job properly.

What are the benefits of taking a thymosin alpha-1 supplement? 

Because thymosin alpha-1 can help regulate and boost both immune and inflammatory processes, the benefits of supplementation can lead to a higher ability to fight off infection and avoid further illness.

When the peptide stimulates T-cells, it leads to an overall better response against viruses, bacteria, and tumor cells. It gives the immune response the boost it needs to become stronger against pathogens, which leads to a better immune function overall. It has also been shown to regulate inflammation caused by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus, and erythematosus. Other studies have shown that the peptide has the ability to increase the efficacy of vaccinations by supporting its ability to keep infection at bay.

Overall, the benefits that can be achieved by taking thymosin alpha-1 include:

  • Strengthened immune system
  • Lowering of widespread inflammation
  • Increase in the number and efficacy of T-cells
  • Eradication of damaged and unhealthy cells to hinder multiplication
  • Prevention of the spreading of disease throughout the body
  • Aid in recovery from chronic fatigue
  • Protection against oxidative stress

Other promising research has shown thymosin alpha-1 to be effective in treating a wide variety of cancers, although more study into the area will need to be conducted in terms of what it lacks when it comes to tumor targeting.  

Is thymosin alpha-1 safe?

Thymosin has been used in the treatment of viral infections and immune disorders for over four decades, and it is generally considered to be a safe and effective supplement for boosting immune function, warding off illnesses, and improving the symptoms of other chronic conditions.

Vital RX’s Immune Health Subscription Box includes thymosin alpha-1 to help boost immune function. Without a properly functioning immune system, the body is susceptible to chronic disease, illness, and infection, so if your system needs a boost, supplementation might be the answer.

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What’s Included In Our Immune Health Subscription Box (And Why)

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, immune health has never been more important. The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against any pathogen, and when it’s not functioning as it should, the body is more susceptible to illness. Often in modern-day living, the immune system is one of the first parts of the body that suffers from a lack of good nutrition, adequate exercise, and an increase in pollutants and toxins.

When diet isn’t up to par, many people choose to supplement for an increased boost in immune health so that if an illness does happen to invade, the body has a better chance of fighting it off quickly and efficiently. The popularity of the wellness subscription box (and more specifically, the immune health subscription box) is proof that people are looking for better ways to improve their immune system during these trying times.

What is immune health?

Immune health is the body’s capability of fighting off or resisting an invasion on a multicellular level. It is driven by T-cells, and there are two types of immune responses: innate and adaptive. The innate part of the immune system is non-specific in nature, so its defense is generalized to all pathogens, whereas the acquired immune system practices immunological memory. The cells responsible for the acquired immune response often remember pathogens that have entered the body by creating antibodies to target specific invaders. The two systems work together against germs or other substances that come into contact with the body.

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Image by Bruno on Pixabay: What is an immune health subscription box, and do you need it now that the weather is getting colder?

How can I boost my immune system fast?

For those who suffer from a weakened immune system, it can be hard to correct because the system isn’t a single entity. It relies on several different things to work symbiotically for it to function the way it should.

It can be hard to boost the immune system quickly, but there are ways to keep it healthy. The best way to keep things running smoothly is through diet and exercise. Other forms of immunity protection include:

  • Avoiding toxins such as cigarettes and alcohol.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Practicing good hygiene to avoid exposure to harmful infections.
  • Managing stress levels.

What foods increase immunity?

For a fighting chance against pathogens and other bacteria, the immune system relies heavily on nutrition. Many foods contain vitamins and minerals that can aid in the protection of the immune function and should be consumed regularly for full effect. These foods include:

Fermented or probiotic foods

Foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir can help to replenish the stomach with good bacteria. Research has shown that when the gut bacteria is balanced properly, the immune system has an easier time telling healthy cells and invader cells apart. 

Healthy fats

Inflammation can lead to a suppression in immune function, and research has shown that eating healthy fats can reduce widespread inflammation. Foods such as avocado, salmon, and extra-virgin olive oil can all be a great addition to your diet if you want to reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune system.

Whole foods

Plant-based foods are full of nutrients the body needs. They are also full of antioxidants that can lessen the risk of oxidative stress, and thus keep the immune system running optimally.

Foods low in added sugar and carbs

Refined carbs and sugars can lead to obesity if consumed in high amounts. Being overweight or obese can significantly decrease your body’s ability to fight off infection.

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Image by Silviarita on Pixabay: Fruits high in antioxidants are a vital component to a healthy, immune-boosting diet.

Vital RX Immune Subscription Box

To help strengthen a struggling immune system, an immune health subscription box like the one offered by Vital RX is the perfect addition to a healthy lifestyle. The high-quality ingredients in the box have been curated by specialized doctors to create an immune supplementation package that really works.

Thymosin Alpha

Oxidative damage and other chronic health issues can lead to a significant risk of a weakened immune system. The peptide thymosin alpha can restore the immune function by stimulating pathways that help to signal cells and increase production of cytokines, a group of small proteins that assist in cell signaling.  

Research has also shown that the peptide can play a vital role in the efficacy of vaccines, improvement of chronic fatigue, reduction of oxidative stress, and elimination of unhealthy cells from the body.


CJC is an amino acid peptide hormone that plays a crucial part in protein synthesis throughout the body. It can assist in overall wellness by improving sleep quality and promoting an increase in overall energy levels. When it comes to the immune system, the CJC has the ability to lend a hand by increasing the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH has a direct role in the effect the immune system has on pathogens, since it can lead to a more efficient stimulation of both B and T cells that help fight off infections. 

Multicomplete 360

The body needs all the essential vitamins and minerals it can get, and if your diet is lacking, a multivitamin can pick up the slack. Included in the Immune Subscription Box is Vital RX’s Multicomplete 360 to help balance out any deficiencies that may be leading to a suppressed immune function.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is an essential part of overall health, and is especially important when it comes to the body’s ability to absorb calcium and phosphorous. Without adequate D3 levels, the body will not be able to use the vitamins it needs and thus could suffer from weakened bones and loss of bone mass. Vitamin D3 plays a vital role in immune health because of its effect on immunologic cells. It acts as an autocrine to help modulate both innate and acquired immune responses.

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Why Immune Health Subscription Boxes Are Surging In Popularity In 2020

Flu season has begun, and with the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to ward off seasonal sickness is more important than ever. The current viral spread and possible grave repercussions of contracting coronavirus also has many people exploring preventive medicine options, as opposed to focusing on recovery if they do fall ill.

Since viruses are not treated with antibiotics due to increased risk of complications, this leaves the bulk of the recovery up to your immune system if you happen to catch COVID-19 or even the seasonal flu. But what can you do if your immunity isn’t functioning as it should? The solution to this modern 2020 problem could be as simple as a monthly immune health subscription box. People use them for all sorts of products from dog toys to clothing, but this year, a monthly investment in health is becoming all the rage.

What causes a weakened immune system?

The immune system can falter for a variety of reasons. Poor diet, lack of physical exercise, chronic disease, and even long bouts of emotional or physical stress can lead to weakened immune function. This is not good for those wishing to beat the winter illness that affects millions of Americans each year. But the upside to having a less-than-adequate immune system is that with the right lifestyle changes, it’s not likely permanent.

The most effective way to boost immunity is by getting a vaccine. This helps immune cells to identify specific pathogens as they enter the body, while also equipping them with the memory they need to fight them off. But when a vaccine hasn’t been created, as is the case with COVID-19, there’s still hope in the battle of combating the virus.

How to boost your immunity

Exercise is great for overall health, but it can also lead to a better response in the innate and adaptive immune systems, which increases one’s ability to fight off viral infection if it does happen to infiltrate the body. Antiviral foods are also a huge assistant when staying healthy all the way through flu season.

The foods that are hailed best in show when it comes to viral protection include:

Vitamins that have been shown to help support healthy immune function include vitamins A and D. Research found that these can lead to a better immune response because of their ability to help modulate the immune system response and increase the production of lymphocytes, the antibody isotypes.

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Image by Micah Tindell on Unsplash: Fermented foods have powerful antiviral properties.

What is an immune support subscription box?

The concept of the immune support subscription box is the same as any other monthly or quarterly subscription. Customers can sign up and continue to receive regular products so that they always have access to what they need, when they need it.

Health subscription boxes are rising in popularity this year. The pandemic has shed a light on unhealthy lifestyles and how important it is to maintain overall wellness at all times. Specifically, the immune health subscription box has popped up everywhere because of the aforementioned inability to fight off viral infections without a healthy immune response.

Vital RX Immunity Health Box

The Vital RX Immunity Health Box has been carefully curated with ingredients proven to assist in the overall healthy function of the immune system. The box features a variety of different products to be used in conjunction with one another to boost immunity throughout flu season, while the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is still high, and all year round.

To help assist with immune health, the box contains products with powerful antioxidants, peptides, and a daily multivitamin to help achieve year-long overall health. CJC is an amino acid peptide hormone that encourages protein synthesis by improving sleep quality and increasing energy. The Multicomplete 360 balances everything you need in a day and packs it into one, while the addition of vitamin D3 gives the body what it needs to properly absorb essential nutrients. The box also includes thymosin alpha.

What is thymosin alpha and what does it do?

This synthetic amino acid peptide activates certain cells within the immune system to help people with weakened or impaired immune responses build their ability to fight off infection. The peptide’s ability to modulate certain responses within the body gives it its potent antiviral properties, and it has been used to treat various ailments such as chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases.

Other uses of thymosin alpha include:

  • Improving chronic fatigue
  • Protecting against oxidative damage
  • Suppressing the growth of tumors
  • The detoxification of unhealthy cells within the body

Thymosin alpha has also shown to improve the efficacy of vaccines, so for those who do intend to get the flu shot, it can help increase how well the shot works as a supplemental form of protection.

Vital RX - immune health subscription box
Image by Bench Accounting on Unsplash: Have you gotten your immunity support subscription box?

Immune health is more important than ever

In the current state of the world, having something to help you maintain optimal health is imperative. With the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a subscription box for immune health can guarantee that you will always have access to the products you need to keep your T-cells fighting as they should.

For more information on Vital RX’s Immune Health Subscription Box, click here or contact us today.

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5 Ways To Enhance Your Natural Immunity

Your immune system is your first line of defense against pathogens and other threats to your health. During fetal development, the immune system starts to mature, with B series lymphocytes being present in the liver by nine weeks. Following birth, both the innate (against non-self-pathogens) and adaptive (immunity that develops over time) immune systems need time to progress to the full level of protection. By the time a person reaches eight or nine years old, they will have a good indication of how well it works to battle illness.  

Having a functional immune system is vital to staying healthy throughout one’s life, but it can be compromised by certain factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and the contraction of certain diseases. When one catches an illness, that’s where natural immunity comes into play. Knowing how to support your immune system naturally is a great step on the road to a healthier you.

What is natural immunity?

The process of natural immunity can only occur once a person has contracted a certain pathogen. The immune system targets a threat and creates antibodies to battle against the specific disease cells in an attempt to rid the body of them, and to be ready if it happens to show up again in the future. The specialized antibodies will then be present with only one job to do: recognize and protect against the specific illness they were created for.

For example, a chicken pox infection relies heavily on natural immunity. That is why it’s unlikely for a person to develop the disease twice, even if the virus infiltrates the body more than once. The antibodies are in wait to ensure that it doesn’t make you sick a second time.

How can I increase my immunity naturally?

There are many ways to help increase the function of the immune system to help protect against certain diseases and illnesses. Although immune systems develop based on exposure to pathogens, natural immunity protection, and the environment in which they were developed, they are not always stuck functioning at the same level throughout one’s life.  


Adequate sleep is important for all aspects of life. Giving the brain time to rest, reset, and process activities is important to cognitive function, memory, and the clearing out of toxins that may have built up over the previous day. It’s not just the brain that requires sleep – studies have shown that every process and part of the body relies on shutting down for the night to help reinvigorate it so it can run properly the following day. Being without adequate quality sleep can lead to cognitive decline, increased risk of heart disease, and high blood pressure.

When it comes to the immune system, sleep plays a direct role in the production and function of T-cells and cytokines. One study has suggested that during sleep, the body extravasates immune cells throughout the body to help give the immune function a better chance at responding to pathogens. It can also help with immunological memory, which gives antibodies the ability to recall certain threats and fight them accordingly. 


The act of mentally training your body to respond to certain experiences can lead to a decreased level of anxiety, but some studies suggest that it can also help with immunity. It has been found that meditation can lend a helping hand when it comes to lessening inflammation that may be detrimental to immune function; slowing the process of aging, which affects how the immune system functions; and activating T-cells.

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Image by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash: Want to know how to enhance your immunity naturally? Reevaluate your food choices.

Nutrition and hydration

Nutrition and hydration are both key elements when it comes to healthy living. Giving the body the proper amount of nutrients, vitamins, and water is a vital component in ensuring that all systems are running at their best.

When it comes to immunity, nutrition and hydration can have a huge impact. Many foods can help boost the process of fighting against pathogens because they improve the activation of pathogen-fighting cells. No one nutrient can lead to the improved function of the immune system, but a varied diet full of vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, amino acids and protein can help prepare cells for battle and curb inflammation that may make it harder for your immune system to respond to a threat.


Regular exercise is an important part of immunity because it can help improve cardiovascular function and increase circulation throughout the body. When circulation is improved, cells are able to travel freely at a much higher rate. This, in turn, leads to their advanced ability to be where they need to be when fighting off infection and disease.

There have been many studies on the effects of exercise and the immune system. One in particular found that acute and regular exercise could have a direct impact on the body’s immunosurveillance response, along with its ability to improve the microbiota, which in turn positively impacts the body’s immune response.

Social interaction

It might not appear to have a huge impact on health, but studies have shown that social interaction can lead to improved levels of mental wellbeing. Not only that, but spending time with loved ones can also improve the immune system by reducing stress levels within the body, thus helping to regulate immune response.

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Image by Jude Beck on Unsplash: Spending time with the ones you love most is one of the tricks for how to naturally boost your immunity.

Supplements and peptide therapy

It can be difficult to get all the required vitamins and minerals through diet alone, and that’s where supplements come in. Since immunity relies on what a person feeds their body, supplementation is required for those who do not get enough on a daily basis. Peptide therapy can also be a good assistant for immunity because it can encourage the development of T-cells.

Vital RX has developed an immune-boosting subscription box that contains an assorted group of peptides and supplements to help keep your immune system running optimally all winter long. The Vitamin D3 promotes the absorption of vital nutrients calcium and phosphorous, and the gluten-free multivitamin acts as your everyday vitamin.

The box also has CJC, a powerful amino acid peptide designed to assist the body in protein synthesis by improving sleep, lessening injury recovery time, and boosting energy levels. Also included is the immune modulator peptide Thymosin Alpha, which leads to a heightened immune function, less overall fatigue, and protection against oxidative damage.

Featured image by Zac Durant on Unsplash