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Have you even wondered why some people get sick when exposed to a bug while the person next to them has no symptoms at all? One of the things that determines this is how well our immune system is functioning. The healthier your immunity, the less severely sniffles, coughs and other cold and flu symptoms will affect you. And the stronger your immune response, the faster all those symptoms will disappear.

Our immune system is one of those things that people don’t often give much thought to until they come down with an illness, are diagnosed with an immune related disease or a global pandemic like COVID-19 comes along.

We are all very aware of the things we need to be doing to help avoid exposure and reduce transmission of COVID-19(like hand washing and social distancing) but I wanted to provide some additional advice about enhancing your immune system function.

This article includes information about some foods you can easily add into your diet and some herbal and nutritional supplements which are known to support the actions of your immune system.

I do recommend that you speak to your healthcare practitioner before commencing any new supplements to ensure they are appropriate for you, particularly if you are taking any pharmaceutical medication.

7 Immune Boosting Natural Remedies For Kidney Disease

1| Garlic

A long-time kitchen staple, garlic doesn’t just add flavour to most recipes, it’s also good for you! Garlic has long been a hero in the immune world due to its antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

Garlic (Allium Sativum) is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been used for centuries to combat infectious diseases. Garlic enhances the immune system by stimulating certain immune cells including macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer cells and dendritic cells.

Garlic is considered to possess strong antiviral properties. For example, studies have shown that garlic extract can minimise influenza A and B infection and is effective against cytomegalovirus, rhinovirus, HIV, herpes simplex virus 1 & 3, viral pneumonia and rotavirus.

Allicin is the major biologically active component of garlic and is produced when garlic is crushed or chopped. Allicin blocks viruses from attaching to the host cell and modulates the immune system response to viral infection.

For best flavour, and maximum health benefits, buy fresh garlic. Purchase garlic that is plump, with unbroken skin. Garlic in flake, powder or paste form is convenient but is simply not as good as fresh garlic. Fresh garlic should be stored at room temperature in an uncovered (or loosely covered) container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight.

A study looking at the role of garlic in preventing the common cold found that taking an allicin-containing garlic supplement resulted in significantly fewer colds than the placebo group (24 vs 65) and significantly shorter duration of symptoms. Volunteers in the active group were less likely to get a cold and recovered faster if infected.

One of the other ways that garlic helps boost immune system function is through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions which help to support a healthy immune system.

Crush or slice your garlic just before eating it as this increases the allicin content (the part of the vegetable that helps boost your immune system).

2| Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used as a spice and medicine for thousands of years and has been used as a natural preventative and treatment of colds and flu.

Alongside its immune boosting actions, ginger has a number of other health benefits including anti- inflammatory, blood sugar lowering, blood pressure lowering, cholesterol lowering, anti-nausea and antioxidant actions. Ginger also has anti-microbial activities against various bacteria and fungi and has been shown to be effective against various viruses.

Ginger is packed with a number of potent anti-inflammatory compounds and a variety of antioxidants, although acute inflammation is an important part of your normal immune response, chronic inflammation can harm your immune systme. potentially increasing your chances of illness so upping your intake of antioxidant rich and anti-inflammatory foods may reduce inflammation and help keep your immune system healthy.

One test-tube study found that fresh ginger had antiviral effects against human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), which causes respiratory infections, and helped boost immune response against HRSV.

Alongside its immune boosting actions, ginger has
a number of other health benefits including anti- inflammatory, blood sugar lowering, blood pressure lowering, cholesterol lowering, anti-nausea and antioxidant actions. Ginger also has anti-microbial activities against various bacteria and fungi and has been shown to be effective against various viruses.

3| Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinula Edodes)

For thousands of years, Shiitake mushrooms have been a popular food source in Asia and are packed with B vitamins and a good source of zinc, copper and selenium- all nutrients that are crucial for robust immunity.

Shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally for diseases involving suppressed immune function, cancer, diabetes, environmental allergies, fungal infection, frequent colds and flus and bronchial inflammation. Shiitake mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds such as polysaccharides, sterols and terpenoids. They stimulate the immune response, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and more.

Lentinan, the beta glucan found in Shiitake mushrooms, enhances
immune functions by boosting the functions of white blood cells including macrophages, natural killer cells and interferon. In addition to lentinan, other substances from Shiitake have also been shown to have antiviral activities.

Shiitake mushrooms have also been shown to increase secretory IgA (sIgA) which plays a crucial role in the immune function of mucous membranes and provides protection against bacteria and viruses.

One study showed that eating Shiitake mushrooms for four weeks improved immune function by increasing gamma delta T-cells, natural killer T cells and sIgA and lowered serum CRP levels suggesting that it lowered inflammation.


You can cook with both fresh and dry shiitake. Shiitake blends well into omelettes, soups, stir-fries and many more dishes. When buying fresh mushrooms, look for the ones with thick, whole caps. Avoid those that look slimy or wrinkled. Remove their stems when cooking as they usually remain tough. If cooking with dry mushrooms, soak them in warm water for 30-60 minutes first.

The most common side effect that usually occurs from consuming raw or undercooked Shiitake is shiitake dermatitis- a characteristic skin irritation so make sure they are cooked properly before eating them.

4| Astragalus (Astragalus Memdranaceus)

The root of Astragalus membranaceus (also known as Huang Qi) has been used for at least 2000 years in China and continues to be widely used as a herb that is known to enhance the function of the immune system.

Alongside its immune stimulating actions, other actions of astragalus include adaptogenic actions meaning it helps the body adapt to stress, it is a cardiovascular tonic, lowers blood pressure, has antiviral actions, is a kidney tonic, has diuretic actions and improves energy.

Astragalus is used as an immune stimulant to help prevent and treat viruses such as the common cold and influenza, it has been shown to increase phagocytosis, protect against immune suppression and viral infection, enhance nonspecific immune function, increase antibody production, increases the function of natural killer cells and increases secretory IgA levels.

In people with low white blood cell counts, Astragalus supplementation has been shown to significantly increase the number of circulating white blood cells, helping to restore normal function of the immune system.

The antiviral action of Astragalus is most likely due to increased immunity and interferon production. In clinical studies, a prophylactic effect on the common cold was found with volunteers taking Astragalus having a decreased incidence and shortened duration of infection compared to those taking the placebo.

Astragalus is also a common herb that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to treat kidney disease.

Dose (dry herb): 2-4gm per day. Contraindications: Due to its immune stimulating activities, astragalus may interfere with the efficacy of immune suppressive medications so avoid concurrent use.

5| Andrographis (Andrographis Paniculate)

Andrographis is a herb traditionally used in Aruveydic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for its immunostimulatory properties, and is often used in states
of weakened immunity. It has been widely used for treatment of viral and bacterial respiratory infections (including influenza, colds, coughs, sinus infections and sore throats), to prevent viral infections such as the common cold and influenza, for general debility and lowered immunity.

Alongside its immune enhancing and antiviral actions, Andrographis also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardioprotective and liver protective actions.

Andrographis has been shown to stimulate both specific and non-specific immune responses and increase natural killer cell activity, increase lymphocyte numbers and activity, increases interleukin-2 which regulates the activities of white blood cells and increases interferon-y which has anti-viral actions.

A randomised placebo-controlled trial looking at the prevention of the common cold with Andrographis, showed that taking Andrographis tablets resulted in a significant decrease in the incidence of colds as compared to a placebo. Only 30% of people in the Andrographis group experienced a cold compared to 62% in the placebo group.

2-3gms per day.

Contraindications: contraindicated in pregnancy. Due to its immune stimulating activities, Andrographis may interfere with the efficacy of immune suppressive medications so avoid concurrent use.

6| Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient because it cannot be synthesised by humans so needs to be obtained through the diet. Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. It enhances white blood cell function and activity, increases interferon levels (the body’s natural anti-viral compound), and increases antibody levels. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant (oxidative stress is linked to impaired immune responses).

Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and increased susceptibility to infections, in turn, infections cause a decrease in vitamin C levels due to increased inflammation and metabolic requirements. Factors that increase nutritional requirements of vitamin C include cigarette smoking, pregnancy, lactation, acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, infections and surgery.

Supplementation with vitamin C has been shown to improve the function of the immune system and strengthen resistance to infection. Clinical trials have found that vitamin C shortens the frequency, duration and severity of the common cold and the incidence of pneumonia.

Dose: Typical daily dosing of vitamin C ranges from 500mg to 3000mg a day with even higher doses used during times of acute infection. The larger the dose taken, the less is absorbed so when supplementing with vitamin C you’re better off taking smaller doses more often throughout the day (500mg-1000mg per dose) to maximise absorption.

NOTE: High doses of vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal side- effects including diarrhoea which is usually relieved by reducing the dose you are taking.

7| Vitamin D

For most people, sunlight is the main natural source of vitamin D3. Dietary sources are limited and include animal products such as oily fish and egg yolks and are not enough to treat vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D has important functions beyond those of maintaining calcium levels and bone health, it is also essential to the health and functioning of your immune system and can reduce the risk of infections.

Vitamin D enhances the pathogen fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages – white blood cells that are important parts of your immune defence- and decreases inflammation through a decreased production of inflammatory cytokines and increased production of anti- inflammatory cytokines, which helps promote immune response.

A deficiency in vitamin D is associated with an increased susceptibility to infection, epidemiological studies have found that higher vitamin D levels are associated with a lower risk of infections of the upper respiratory tract.

A recently published paper reviewed the vitamin D levels of 212 people with COVID-19 hospitalised in Southern Asian countries and found a possible link between vitamin D levels and clinical outcomes of COVID-19 infection. The author concluded that vitamin D supplementation could possibly improve the clinical outcomes of patients infected with COVID-19 based on increasing odds ratio of having a mild outcome in patients with higher serum vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is essential for those with kidney disease because the body’s ability to produce the active form of vitamin D (calcitriol) decreases.

Therapeutic Dose: 400IU-2000IU per day. However, the dose should be titrated depending on your vitamin D levels which are easily checked via a blood test. For severe vitamin D deficiency higher doses may be necessary.

Therapeutic Dose: 400IU-2000IU per day. However, the dose should be titrated depending on your vitamin D levels which are easily checked via a blood test. For severe vitamin D deficiency higher doses may be necessary.

In Summary…

Including some immune boosting foods and supplements into your routine are great starts when it comes to optimising your immune function, but we also need to make sure the rest of our diet and our lifestyle is supporting what we are trying to achieve.

Here are some other things you can be doing to support your immune function:

  • If you are feeling run down, take a day off, for rest and healing
  • Eat a diet that supports optimal immune function such as brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats.
  • Avoid sugars, alcohol and refined, overly processed foods.
  • Keep up exercise, which helps support immune function.
  • Ensure adequate sleep.
  • Try to reduce your stress level. As stress increases, cortisol levels go up, which negatively impacts immune function.

We hope this article has provided you with some helpful advice about supporting your immune system. Stay safe.

Hi, I'm Danny thanks for visiting my website, find us on Pinterest, here.



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