Eating a diet full of immune boosting foods can help your body stay strong and fight off any illnesses that comes your way. While you can’t increase immune function with food alone (nor would you want to), many foods provide the nutrients the immune system needs to help it function optimally. Immune boosting foods include fruits, vegetables and certain types of proteins with specific immune booster properties.
How the Immune System Works
The immune system is a complex system that helps protect your body from getting sick. It is made up of multiple tissues, organs and cells that all work together. This immune boosting army fights against external enemies, like viruses and bacteria, as well as internal enemies, like cancer or dangerous DNA mutations. The immune system has a critically important job of keeping you alive and healthy.
Many things, such as stress, environment, and lack of sleep can dampen the immune system putting you at risk for disease. A diet lacking in nutrients, particularly antioxidants and protein, while loaded with processed foods and sugar, can also dampen immune function. If you want to know how to boost your immune system, you first need to ensure you are supporting your body with the most balanced diet possible.
How to Boost Your Immune System with Whey
Whey protein is a powerful immune boosting food. Whey is one of the two proteins in cow’s milk and is a source of all nine essential amino acids the body needs to make immune cells. It is a good source of two immune booster amino acids- glutamine and arginine.
Whey also contains amino acids that are necessary to make the body’s most important antioxidant glutathione. This antioxidant works as part of the immune system to help reduce the damage created by oxidative stress, which if left unchecked can lead to disease.
But, the immune booster properties of whey go beyond being just a good source of certain amino acids.
Minimally processed whey protein is also a source of substances called bioactive peptides, like lactoferrin, immunoglobulins and lactalbumin.
A 2008 study evaluated the use of lactoferrin supplements on the immune system. They gave eight subjects one capsule of a placebo supplement for 7 days, 100 mg of lactoferrin for 7 days and 200 mg of lactoferrin for 7 days. They found that several immune system cells were significantly more activate during the 7 day period when the subjects were receiving the most lactoferrin.
A 2013 study evaluated the impact of lactoferrin and immunoglobulins on the incidence and severity of the common cold. Researchers found that subjects given a supplement with these bioactive proteins got fewer colds and had less severe symptoms compared to those that took a placebo.
Whey protein is a great addition to your diet to help support your immune system. It is a nutrient-dense complete protein that has multiple immune boosting properties to help you stay heathy.
Choosing an Immune Boosting Whey Supplement
Keep in mind if you are looking for a whey protein supplement for immune support, many of the products on the market will not contain the bioactive peptides previously discussed. These peptides are found only in minimally processed whey protein concentrates. Although whey hydrolysates or isolates do contain all nine essential amino acids, the other immune booster components are destroyed when these types of protein powders are processed.
Our Vital Whey grass fed protein is produced with the utmost care to prevent the destruction of the immune boosting components in our whey to give your immune system a fighting chance.
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- Vitetta L, Coulson S, Beck SL, Gramotnev H, Du S, Lewis S. The clinical efficacy of a bovine lactoferrin/whey protein Ig-rich fraction (Lf/IgF) for the common cold: a double blind randomized study. Complement Ther Med. 2013;21(3):164-171.
- Mulder AM, Connellan PA, Oliver CJ, Morris CA, Stevenson LM. Bovine lactoferrin supplementation supports immune and antioxidant status in healthy human males. Nutr Res. 2008;28(9):583-589.
- Kaminogawa S, Nanno M. Modulation of Immune Functions by Foods. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2004;1(3):241-250.