The Truth About Your Immune System: Do immune booster supplements work?

First, let’s clarify a few things about immunity.

Studies of nutrition's effects on humans' immune systems are inconclusive, yet marketers will continue to take advantage of concerns regarding immunity. It is up to us to get savvy when it comes to understanding what does and doesn’t work for our bodies.

There’s an entire industry devoted to chewables, pills, and powders that claim to "boost" or "support" your immune system. Then there are those that suggest healthy eating and vigorous workouts are all you need to avoid getting poorly. But which is true?

orange fruit half covered with white pills
Photographer: Diana Polekhina | Source: Unsplash

Because we are ‘half full’ kinda people, we believe there’s usually a grain of truth to most claims. For example, vitamins can help immune function, but only in people who have a vitamin deficiency in the first place— not in the average, healthy adult.

In our quest for the truth about immune booster supplements, we found an alarming study published on the JAMA Network demonstrating how quality control measures can be insufficient for some select dietary supplement products. The study was carried out on 30 immune booster supplements sold via Amazon.

Purchasers have a right to know what they are buying, yet the label doesn’t always provide the exact information.

Real Life and Immune System Booster Foods

Even though the jury is still out on whether these foods directly impact our immune systems, strategies to improve overall health are never wasted since healthy people tend to be more resistant to disease and fare better when infected.

We know then that healthy habits can support the immune system and encourage it to operate at its peak. That’s enough to go on while we continue to await the verdict on nutrition directly impacting immunity.

There is much evidence to suggest that the vitamins we get directly from food sources are more reliable as they are digestible. Leaving supplements with a bit of a question mark against them. You never really know if they are simply going in one end and out the other, with very little contribution along the way.

Since we are all about weaving healthy habits into everyday life, here’s a list of the potentially Immune Boosting Foods for your shopping list. Further below, we’ve provided a table of convenience which will remind you why these healthy foods are worth adding to your weekly shop and how to add them into your routine.

  • blueberries
  • dark chocolate
  • turmeric
  • oily fish
  • broccoli
  • sweet potatoes
  • spinach
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • green tea
  • kefir
  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • oranges and/or kiwi fruit
  • red bell pepper

Immune Booster Shot

These are up there with immune booster supplements and immune boosting drinks in terms of what people hope will fend off the latest virus, particularly around this time of ‘back to school and college’.

It’s now that lots of people are mixing from different backgrounds, bringing their stately germs along with them to fight that are less immune. Unfair, right?

But that’s how it works. One person exposed to a germ over and over for a long time will no longer suffer the effects, while someone completely new to that germ may be knocked down, so to speak, just because their immune system hasn’t learned how to defend against that germ yet.

The World Health Organisation put it like this,

When the human body is exposed to an antigen for the first time, it takes time for the immune system to respond and produce antibodies specific to that antigen.

That’s why we have vaccinations, to introduce our systems to a little bit of the antigens in order to help produce the antibodies to fight them, should they come along in full force. So, we have booster shots for various diseases. But what about boosting, overall?

Assuming there are links from nutrition to immunity. There are now so-called immune booster shots that aren’t vaccinations, but exactly as they sound, a shot glass measure of a drink with some kind of condensed nutrition in a plastic bottle to boost your immunity.

So, if we go this route, instead of immune booster supplements, immune system booster foods and immune boosting drinks, as long as these ‘shots’ consist of the real thing – the real food source- fine. It could be worth considering if those sources each bring a benefit outside the immune system claim. Be sure to understand the extraction process, what’s used from the original food source, what’s left out, and most importantly, if anything has been added. Research away to make sure you’re not wasting your money.

Immune Booster for Kids

Continuing with the theme of keeping things simple and of genuine origin, if the ‘shot’ or immune-boosting drink consists of real food, why not. It can only be a positive addition to their intake for the day. However, there is no one-shot stop to boost a child’s immune system. As with most things, there are no shortcuts to success.

And since we are big on ‘sparking joy’, as Marie Kondo likes to do in the home, we feel our bodies also need a de-clutter to ditch all the unnecessary stuff and focus on that which brings us joy. More than most, kids need to see the joy in food, so what could be better than a brightly coloured, potentially immune-boosting smoothie?

Blueberry Thrill Smoothie
Photographer: Jules Canterbury

These 5 immunity-boosting smoothies are more than just a nutritional boost. They represent the daily staple of ‘good’ against ‘evil’. They will lead you not into temptation. Get your

  • Blueberry Thrill
  • Kale Kick
  • Ginger Ninja
  • Broccoli and the Beast, or
  • The Big 5

to keep you on track and, hopefully, prepare your immune system for whatever is around the corner.

Fill a snack gap. Sip away your stress during some downtime. Absorb yourself in a nutritious, potentially immune-boosting drink. Embrace that break.

Best immune booster for kids?

If there is a link between nutrition and immunity, your daily immune-boosting smoothie is probably the answer. How else can you add some nutrient-dense foods to your week? Take the Kale Kick, for example.

Kale can be tricky to add and even trickier to consume, especially for a child. But what child doesn’t like a bright green drink? Especially around Halloween. Add a natural sweetener like maple syrup and create a new healthy habit they come to rely on.

Talk about the benefits of Kale and other superfoods.

Kale Kick Smoothie
Get Your Kale Kick Here

What Else Boosts Immunity?

Exercise and good nutrition aren’t the only contributing habits. Consistent, high-quality sleep and managing your stress levels will help. Studies have shown that sleep deficiency and chronic stress can impair immune function.

The Sleep Foundation say,

Just like sleep can help the brain consolidate learning and memory8, research suggests that sleep strengthens immune memory. The interaction of immune system components during sleep reinforces the immune system’s ability to remember how to recognize and react to dangerous antigens.

In summary, we have no proof that nutrition impacts immunity, but we know that people living in poverty and malnourished are reported to be more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

As yet, researchers don't know if there are particular dietary factors, such as processed foods or high sugar intake, that affect immune function.

Harvard state that the immune system requires balance and harmony to function well, but researchers cannot scientifically prove links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.

The truth is that the truth is yet to be revealed.

The issue is in the name, immune ‘system’; it’s not a single entity which would be easier to measure but an entire system.

Researchers will continue to explore the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response. In the meantime, applying healthy-living strategies makes perfect sense.

Diet, exercise and well-being likely help immune function and, of course, come with other proven health benefits.

Since we are all about weaving healthy habits into everyday life, we’ll leave you with this useful table to demonstrate the benefits of potentially Immune Boosting Foods and how to add them to your routine.

potentially immune-boosting foods and how to add them to your day


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