One dietary component to incorporate in order to help strengthen the immune system is protein. Proteins play several roles in the body, one of which is bolstering the immune system as the immune system is made up of proteins. These proteins, known as immunoglobulins or antibodies, help to ward off diseases, viruses, or other bacteria that you are exposed to on a day-to-day basis. By ensuring that you are intaking adequate amounts of protein, you are ensuring that your body has the ability to use these antibodies as a defense against unwanted invaders.
Protein is also important for the healing and recovery process. If your body is already immunocompromised and/or recovering from injury or sickness, it is important to intake adequate protein levels so that the protein consumed can go towards healing. The body naturally uses up more proteins and antibodies during a recovery time and intaking sufficient levels is crucial for achieving a speedy recovery.
Protein recommendations vary depending on age, health status and activity level. Strength.com partnered with sports nutritionists to create a Protein Calculator that calculates your daily protein need based on these variables. Click here to use it.
Typically, it is recommended that adults get between 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. In order to get your weight in kilograms, simply divide weight in pounds by 2.2. You then multiply this number by 0.8 to get grams of protein, or 1.2 if you are athletic and/or are healing and have higher protein needs. Please see the calculation below as an example for a 130 lb athlete. If you need further assistance with figuring out the protein recommendation that would be best for you, we recommend consulting your local dietitian or healthcare professional.
Protein needs = 130 lb / 2.2 = 59 kilograms
59 kilograms x 1.2 grams/kilogram = 71 grams of protein
While all animal-based proteins are a complete source of dietary protein, if you are wanting to incorporate protein for immunity, it is best to choose anti-inflammatory sources of protein such as fish, lean chicken/turkey, low fat dairy products, eggs, legumes, soy products and nuts/seeds. Whey and/or plant-based protein supplements can also be helpful for athletes or individuals who are having a hard time meeting protein needs.
Another reason that protein will help boost immunity is due to the synergistic effect it has with other nutrients that are commonly found in protein-heavy foods, such as zinc. Zinc helps regulate white blood cell count; the cells important for fighting off diseases. Deficiencies in protein and zinc increase one’s susceptibility to disease and other infections.
While protein isn’t the only nutrient to consume to strengthen your immune system, it is one to ensure that you are regularly getting at meals and snacks. In addition, be sure to consume a well-rounded, balanced diet to ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients to keep your body strong and healthy.
Having a well rounded diet can only further benefit your immunity system. Adding protein sources to your diet will help boost your immunity, making you stronger and healthier.