Strengthening and Modulating the Immune System

Updated: May 13, 2021

What is an Immune Modulator?

Immune modulators tend to balance and strengthen immune system function rather than simply up-regulating or down-regulating it. They usually create a healthy challenge to the immune system and improve cell signaling, making it less fragile.

General Uses: A wide range of immune issues, including prevention of colds and the flu, cancer prevention and adjunct cancer care, respiratory ailments, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disease, mononucleosis, and weak immune function (i. e., constantly getting sick)

Medicinal mushrooms and adaptogenic herbs can play an important role strengthening and modulating immune function, which makes them useful for preventing illness, balancing autoimmune and allergic conditions, and even potentially fighting cancer and other diseases relating to your immune system.

Foods that support the Immune System

Orange produce and leafy greens provide useful carotenoids — particularly betacarotene — that improve your vitamin A levels to support immune function as well as healthy skin and lubrication / mucus (a front line of defense). Think:

  • winter squash

  • sweet potatoes

  • bell peppers

  • calendula-infused broth

Healthy fats also support good lubrication inside and out, proper immune cell functioning, and decreased inflammation. Think:

  • wild salmon

  • sardines flax

  • hemp oil

  • nuts

  • seeds

Vitamin C from fresh, raw fruits and vegetables — especially citrus, strawberries, bell peppers, hot peppers, and rose hips — help keep your immune system humming.

Pungent aromatics like garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers boost circulation, improve the flow of mucus, and enhance digestion, all of which help your body eliminate pathogens. They also have direct antimicrobial activity. Culinary herbs, like oregano and thyme, act similarly and have a particular affinity for your lungs and gut.

Medicinal mushrooms, including gourmet edibles shiitake, maitake, and more woody mushrooms like reishi, turkey tails, and chaga, support and modulate immune function. Cordyceps fungus, reishi, and chaga strengthen lung function and improve oxygen utilization.

Fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, and fermented veggies provide beneficial bacteria, which make your body less hospitable to pathogens — especially your gut and skin — while decreasing inflammation and improving immune function.

Fluids like water, tea, soup, broth, and miso keep you hydrated so your immune system can

better do its job, protective mucous membranes stay plump and moist, and germs and battle debris are easier to flush out.

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