Immune system boosters, how do you get them in your food?

Immune system boosters give our immune systems that little push that makes them work that much better. The work of the immune system is very important for our survival. It is responsible for shielding the body from substances, microorganisms, and cell changes that could make you sick.

It does not just stop here though, the immune system also keeps a record of every microorganism it has ever defeated. This means that if the microorganism enters the body again, the immune system will recognize and quickly destroy it. The immune system is made up of antibodies, white blood cells, complement system, lymphatic system, spleen, bone marrow, and thymus.

How to boost the immune system

For the immune system to function properly, especially during a pandemic, we need to strengthen it. We can successfully do this by making various lifestyle changes like adopting a healthy diet. A healthy diet is necessary for the body cells to function, and this applies to the cells that make up the immune system too.

In fact, studies show that malnutrition is one of the primary causes of a weak immune system. There are some parts of our diet that play specific roles in the improvement of the immune system. They are called immune boosters.

During a chat with HealthFacts, the Assistant Chief Dietician at the University College Hospital shed more light on these immune boosters and how they should be taken.

Healthfacts: What are the things people can take to boost their immune system?

When you talk of things people should take to boost their immune system, you think of proteinous food. They prevent onset of infection. When your diet is adequate in protein, your immune system will be superb. However, there are some complementary things that help which are natural spices that contain antioxidants.

They assist in boosting the immune system. We talk about garlic, ginger, turmeric, fruits, and vegetables among many others. Normally, fruits contain vitamin c and vitamin c helps to boost the immune system. Take fruits, as much as possible in their natural form, not as packaged juices. For example, lemon has an appreciable amount of vitamin C. Also, African star apple, agbalumo, has a reasonable amount of vitamin C and potassium.

There is a tendency for people to take more than is required. In what quantity would you recommend that these immune boosters be taken?

I’ll answer that with a statement we say; “Moderation is key”, too much of everything is bad. It should be part of our diet but not too much, not too little. For example, a cup is about 250ml, you can squeeze half a lemon into your cup of tea.

For ginger, you could put half of a teaspoon of powdered ginger into the same cup. As much as possible, take them on alternate days. If you make your pap, grind it with ginger, garlic, cloves. Don’t take too much of these things and don’t take them on an empty stomach. Too much can upset the walls of the gastrointestinal tract leading to stomach or gastric ulcer.

A cup of tea and lemon
Cup of tea and lemon (Source: GoodFon)

What is your professional take on herbs?

Research has shed some light on the effects of some of these herbs. Some disease conditions, especially kidney problems have been linked to excess intake of some herbs. Also, some children come down with kidney diseases, and while tracing dietary history, we discover that they have been exposed to excessive herbs that we call agbo.

We generally do not encourage them because of what we have seen. I know that our parents and grandparents still believe in these herbs. Just advise them to take these natural spices that we have spoken about instead.

Herbs (Agbo) in a bottle and cup
Agbo (Source: Voice of Nigeria)

What other words of advice could you give us?

As much as possible, be natural about your diet. Healthy eating will lead to a healthy life. Some of the diseases we have now were not present in the olden days. Due to our sedentary lifestyle and some of the things we use to cook our meals we are more exposed to harmful substances.

Let’s plan our meals so that we can save time and eat healthy at the same time. For example, eating breakfast before leaving home is very good. There is a reason it is called “breakfast”, we have fasted through the night before and it is expected that we break that fast in the morning as early as possible.

So if you want to make breakfast available, plan for it, instead of buying unhealthy things. I understand that we can’t avoid some of these things but let’s complement them with adequate intake of fruits and vegetables.

Wuraola is a trained health manager with a knack for reading every and anything. She is interested in sharing educational and helpful information from her reading and research. She absolutely loves food and hopes to travel the world to taste every delicacy out there. For more details, send an email to


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