HPV (Human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States . Most people are completely symptom-free after they have been infected, so it might be easy to underestimate this virus. However, persistent HPC (2 or more HPV diagnoses) can lead to cancer .
Those who have been given an HPV diagnosis may not know how to best support their bodies. One of the best things you can do is cultivate a strong and healthy immune system.
A strong immune system is important because your body can usually fight off HPV on its own, just like any other virus. The immune system has innate “fighters” in the body that help remove viruses or foreign invaders. Your diet and lifestyle can either strengthen or weaken your immune response.
Eating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and other powerful nutrients can help lower inflammation and strengthen your immune system to fight viruses.
Best Nutrients for a Stronger Immune System
There are a few key nutrients to focus on when using nutrition to build up your immune system. These key nutrients are discussed in detail below.
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant, which works to attack “free radicals”. Free radicals are molecules that create excess stress in the body and lead to damage to healthy parts of our body. Thus, vitamin A can strengthen our immune system by limiting the amount of stress we have in our bodies.
Known deficiencies in vitamin A have been shown to weaken the immune response, making it more difficult for the body to fight off viruses [3,4]. Thus, maintaining adequate vitamin A is critical to help effectively clear viruses from our bodies.
This is especially important for those with HPV. One relevant study found that persistent HPV was less common among women who had high levels of vitamin A in their bodies and ate more servings of vegetables each day .
Foods that are rich in vitamin A :
- Dark, green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, broccoli
- Orange vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin
- Yellow vegetables: spaghetti squash, summer squash
- Red bell pepper
- Beef liver
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known vitamins for immune function and rightly so! It is involved in many processes that keep the immune system strong and healthy.
Vitamin C is involved at a cellular level. It helps our immune system perform as it should by going to where the bacteria and viruses are found and helping immune cells kill off these invaders .
Vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant. Having enough vitamin C can help stop free radicals from causing unnecessary damage that makes our immune system weaker .
Our skin plays a big role in protecting us from unhealthy substances that try to enter our bodies. Collagen is the main protein that forms our skin. Vitamin C is involved in producing collagen, thus making our skin stronger and healthier .
Foods that are rich in vitamin C :
- Bell Pepper
- Brussel Sprouts
- White Potatoes
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another important player in immune health. Vitamin D boosts our immune cells and helps them to properly function in our bodies .
It is important to maintain adequate vitamin D status as low or deficit vitamin D has been linked to a greater propensity towards infection. In fact, women with a vitamin D deficiency have been shown to have a greater risk of HPV infection [8,9].
The main place where we can get vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight on our skin. Getting regular interaction outside is a great way to support your body’s immune system.
Foods that are right in vitamin D :
- Egg yolks
- Omega-3-rich fish: salmon, sardines, cod liver oil
- Beef liver
- Fortified orange juice
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E is known to be one of the most impactful vitamins in the immune system. Higher amounts of vitamin E are found in the immune cells rather than in the blood. It is another powerful antioxidant as well, able to fight off free radicals and lower inflammation .
Due to its profound effect on the immune system, vitamin E has been shown to prevent HPV infection and the development of cervical cancer .
Foods that are rich in vitamin E :
- Sunflower seeds
- Red bell pepper
Unlike the other nutrients discussed, zinc is a mineral and not a vitamin. However, that does not mean it is any less powerful in our bodies.
Zinc is well-known for its various roles in immune function. It is involved in creating immune cells and helping them to function properly. It is also a protector of the skin, which helps keep pathogens out of the body .
One study found that zinc supplements have been shown to decrease the likelihood of persistent HPV . This is no surprise given zinc’s powerful role in the immune system.
Foods that are rich in zinc :
Giving your Diet a Boost
Because it can be difficult to get all these important nutrients in daily, it can be helpful to get a boost from an outside supplement.
The HPD Rx ONE is an excellent supplement that supplies you with the immune-boosting vitamins and minerals discussed in this article, so you don’t have to stress about missing any key players in your diet.
It also contains several powerful phytonutrients, such as lycopene and green tea extract, which are strong antioxidants. It also contains indole-3-carbinol, which may have an anti-cancer effect .
Talk with your doctor about adding this supplement to your daily routine for a boost of immune strength!