Can your diet (or lifestyle) improve your immune system? Yes it can, but be skeptical of supplements making these claims because there’s no single food or nutrient that will magically boost immunity. For example, Echinacea, a very popular herb (in the daisy family) taken to combat colds does not have research to support cold prevention when tested against a placebo. In most studies, Echinacea also didn’t lessen cold symptoms for those who got sick. However, don’t be discouraged; there are other ways you can keep our immune system strong to prevent catching a cold or recover faster if you do.
Keep in mind, just because our bodies are exposed to viruses this does not mean that we will necessarily get sick or experience symptoms. This is because cold symptoms are actually not caused directly by the virus but by our immune systems response. All the more reason to keep your immune system in top shape!
Skip the vitamin E, vitamin A and zinc supplements and instead load up on the fruits and veggies. A nutritionally diverse diet emphasizing fruits and veggies appears to be beneficial. Researchers in Northern Ireland randomly assigned 83 healthy volunteers aged 65 to 85 to eat either their normal diets (averaging two servings of fruits and veggies) or to include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. After 16 weeks, the fruit-and-vegetable group had a better immune response than the people who didn’t up their produce intake.