Immunity is a complex term as it involves the interaction of a number of bodily systems working together to perform a lot of functions. An immunologist is probably the best person to talk to, if you suspect you have an immune related issue.

Now there may not be any standard test that would tell you weather your immunity is high or low, but there are certain markers worth looking into. 

If you’re someone who has been living a hectic and stressful life recently, chances are that your immunity may have taken a hit. In this article, I would be going over some of the nutrition and lifestyle related factors worth looking into as it relates to immunity.  

Lets start with sleep

    Sleep is something, which is extremely necessary on a daily basis. Irrespective of weather you’re a high-powered executive or a high school student, cutting on sleep is the last thing that should be on your mind when aiming to have a robust immune function. 

    Experts recommend a minimum of 7 hours of sleep for healthy adults. Sleeping for less than the ideal duration required by your body can have far reaching effects, like less energy the next day, difficulty making decisions, changes in blood pressure and blood sugar, increased food cravings especially for sugary and fatty foods, loss of lean body mass, increased body fat, etc. 

    If you are avoiding sleep or have reduced sleep duration and thus its quality, keep in mind that is may do more harm than good. In case you have a sleep disorder, consult with a qualified specialist for the same. There is a lot to gain from sleeping long enough with good sleep quality, with a better functioning immune response being one of them.

    Next up are calories 

    Surprised. Well so are most people. 

    If you are someone who is dieting to lose body weight/body fat, chances are that due to a reduction in overall daily calorie intake your immune function also may have been affected. 

    When we reduce our food intake, by default we may also end up reducing our intake of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, etc. Some of these can surely be corrected for with a multivitamin/mineral, but that still doesn’t cover everything. 

    Getting super lean, below 8 percent body fat for men and 14 percent for women may put some people in a position where their immune function starts getting affected. 

    Now for those who are obese and overweight, things work a little differently as you are leaning down to achieve better health. An obese or overweight person might see an improvement in immune function when they lose weight, contrary to those who are already healthy but striving towards those six packs.


    Stress is something that can have far reaching effects on our bodies, affecting almost everything from mental health to social bonding to work and career. Which is why we hear so much about stress management both at the work place and at home. 

    Stress can even impact our sleep both in duration and quality, the amount of food we eat and so our calories, the choices we make while selecting food or even the words we use while talking to our loved ones. 

    Managing stress is more important than trying to avoid it. Everyone's stress handling capacity is different. While some amount of stress can increase productivity and efficiency, too much of it without proper management is something to look into. 

    There are some who do thrive by having some amount of stress in their life but it’s definitely not something to push forward or ignore as stress can build up over time. Two things that are touted to help with stress are meditation and yoga.


    The type of exercise we do, the duration we do it for, the intensity with which we do it and the number of times (frequency) per week we are going to do it, all have an influence on our immune function. 

    Doing too much with a lot if intensity, too frequently, without sufficient rest can not only increase the risk of injury but can also shock the immune system. Conversely, doing just enough to make improvements, taking sufficient rest, being recovered before next session, using good technique, etc. may work at building immunity. 

    A professional athlete or a fitness model may have to take their physiques to an extreme level for their respective line of sport/work, but that is usually done under the supervision of highly qualified and experienced coaches. 

    If you’re trying to copy someone else’s exercise program or diet, do consider that they may have taken years of practice to build up that work capacity and they may be doing it as part of their profession rather than recreationally.

    Lastly, Vitamin D 

    The one vitamin that has been directly shown to help with immunity is Vitamin D. It is prudent to mention here that this is relevant if someone already has low levels to Vitamin D in their body which is generally determined through a blood test, i.e.  25(OH) Hydroxy Vitamin D3. 

    As far as dietary requirements go, the daily recommended intake of Vitamin D is 400 IU or 10 micrograms. 

    Primary sources of Vitamin D include sun exposure, egg yolks, fish and vitamin d supplements. These days some processed foods like breakfast cereals, dairy products, cooking oils, etc. are fortified with Vitamin D. 

    If you are aware that you have Vitamin D deficiency or have symptoms of deficiency, talk to your doctor about the necessary course of treatment. Supplementary intake for Vitamin D in case of deficiency would be different as based on the level of deficiency. 

    Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency are fatigue, tiredness, getting sick often, delayed wound-healing, depression, low libido, muscle pain, bone loss, etc. 

    With these above-mentioned tips you can have a starting ground for working towards your immune health. Keep in mind that these are only five of the many factors that are related with immune function.


    Looking for weight loss tips, read our post on it CLICK HERE


    Clinical Dietitian Keshav || MSc Dietetics (DFSM), PGND, CNCC

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