Ask a Health Professional

"Have a question?
Have a health
professional help
you with it."

Ask a Health Professional

Return to Chronic Health Problems Center

8 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements can help complement a healthy diet and lifestyle. But don’t count on them to boost your immune system, say experts in the Harvard Medical School report, The Truth about Your Immune System: What You Need to Know.

The immune system defends the body against invading microbes, such as bacteria and viruses. Many supplement makers claim their products “support” immunity. But so far, there is not enough scientific proof to back up the claims. The reason, says Michael N. Starnbach, PhD, a microbiologist and the Harvard Medical School expert who edited the report, is that science has not yet determined what level of immune system cells will best help the body resist disease.


While some proponents of vitamins and supplements claim that boosting the number of immune cells improves immunity, that link has yet to be established. The variety of immune cells is vast, and their interactions remain largely unknown.


The Truth about Your Immune System explains what scientists do know about human immunity and also describes areas under study, including the development of new vaccines and the influence of lifestyle on immunity.


Immunity Boosters


So far, the report says, the eight lifestyle factors that appear to help keep the immune system in shape are the same ones that promote overall health:

  1. Avoid tobacco.
  2. Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Control your blood pressure.
  6. Drink only in moderation (if at all).
  7. Get adequate sleep.
  8. Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and preparing foods safely.


1. Understanding the immune system: How it works. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health

Written by:: Health-e Headlines™
Reviewed:: 9/12/2012

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis of specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt professional medical attention if you have a particular concern about your health or specific symptoms. Wellsource, Inc. is not liable for any health consequences resulting from your use of this site.