How to Nutritionally Rebuild a Weakened Human Immune System

How to Nutritionally Rebuild a Weakened Human Immune System

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Salmon provides vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which may improve immune function.

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If you've recently been ill, your immune system has worked hard to get you healthy again. Vitamins, minerals and nutrients may have been depleted while you were sick, and replacing them is essential to helping your immune system regain strength. Eating a balanced diet consisting of primarily whole foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need for proper immune function. Your body does not efficiently store all the nutrients it needs to keep you healthy, so it's important to get them regularly from your diet.


Eat and drink fermented foods and beverages such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha and tempeh daily. These foods contain probiotics, or beneficial bacteria that live in your intestines, which may help strengthen your immune system, according to Gary Huffnagle, Ph.D. of the University of Michigan Health System. If you are lactose intolerant, have a milk allergy or are vegan, you can buy yogurt made from soy, almond or coconut milk.


Include foods high in vitamin C, such as bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries, in your daily diet. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes getting an adequate amount of vitamin C -- at least 75 milligrams per day for women and 90 milligrams per day for men -- may improve your immune function.


Consume zinc daily from foods such as beef, crab, fortified cereals, chicken, beans, nuts and dairy products. Your body's immune cells need zinc to function properly, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.


Take in iron from foods such as beef, turkey, tuna, chicken, beans, spinach and fortified breakfast cereals. A lack of iron may cause anemia and decreased immune function.


Get an adequate amount of vitamin D, about 400 international units daily, to support your immune function. The best food sources are fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, eggs and fortified dairy products, orange juice or cereal.


Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Essential for your health, these fats may prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are good sources of omega-3. Flaxseeds, canola oil, soybean and walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, the precursor to omega-3 fatty acids in your body.


Consume different antioxidants by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. According the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants may prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Eating fruits and vegetables of varied colors helps you get a good balance of different health-promoting antioxidants.


Increase your intake of vitamin E-rich foods such as almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and peanuts. According to study published in 2000 in the journal "Vitamins and Hormones," vitamin E may enhance your immune system.


Drink plenty of fluids. notes that men need to drink about 13 cups of fluid per day and women need 9. If you're sick or sweat a lot, your fluid needs are likely higher. Staying hydrated helps your body flush out toxins and improves your immune function.


  • Vitamins and minerals play different and important roles in supporting your overall health. A deficiency of one nutrient may cause other nutrients to become out of balance. Eating a variety of whole foods is the best way to get an adequate amount of all the nutrients you need.


  • While diet alone can enhance your immune system, see your health-care provider for treatment if you are ill.