Lots of people look to support their immune system naturally, using high quality nutritional and food-based supplements. Is there a scientific basis for this? What supplements should you be taking?
Omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA are essential for human health, and are very often low in modern diets. A 2017 study called “High DHA Fish Oil Linked to Immune Boost in Humans” published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that fish oil rich in these Omega-3s may help to modulate B lymphocytes in the human body.
It is interesting to note that high EPA & DHA cold water fish, and the extracted fish oil, have been relied on in places like Norway as a natural food/wellness provision for generations. This scientific validation of EPA & DHA fish oil is truly an example of science finally catching up to traditional food medicine!
Another study in the British Journal of Nutrition called “Immune Parameters Improved in Response to Fish Oil” found that fish oil Omega-3 supplementation could improve a number of immune function markers as opposed to strength traninig exercise. It was found that fish oil supplementation could improve markers of both innate (zymosan phagocytosis, lysosomal volume, superoxide anion, peroxide of hydrogen) and acquired immunity (cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4), CD8, TNF-α, interferon-γ (IFN-γ), IL-2, IL-6 and IL-10 produced by lymphocytes). It was found that supplementation with fish oil improved these immune markers in the body, but strength training did not.
Another traditional food medicine is mushrooms/mycelia. You may have eaten Shittake fruiting bodies in your food without realizing you were taking in powerful medicine as well as a yummy food ingredient. The same goes for Maitake, Lion’s Mane and many other traditional food mushrooms/mycelia. Science is also finding that these mushrooms may have much to offer our immune system.
A 2017 meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms called “Medicinal Mushrooms in Human Clinical Studies. Part I. Anticancer, Oncoimmunological, and Immunomodulatory Activities: A Review” found “Numerous bioactive polysaccharides or polysaccharide-protein complexes from [medicinal mushrooms] seem to enhance innate and cell-mediated immune responses, and they exhibit antitumor activities in animals and humans. While the mechanism of their antitumor actions is still not completely understood, stimulation and modulation of key host immune responses by these mushroom compounds seems to be central. “
What other natural immune-boosting and balancing natural food supplements are there? Well you could peruse some of my previous writings in this blog on Pomegranate , Miso and Moringa. The truth is nature has a cornucopia of health-supporting foods, supporting immune response and the whole body. Start incorporating these foods into your diet, and check out the highest quality possible supplements in their categories and shop in a health food store!