Natural Immune Boosters for When “Sick” Weather Strikes
Our bodies are AMAZING. Our bodies have the power to heal themselves. How incredible is that? The only thing they require from us are natural immune boosters! According to Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Craig Coleman, “The significance of that finding becomes clear when you consider Americans suffer from one billion colds annually and spend about $1.5 billion annually for doctor’s visits and another $2 billion annually on non-prescription cough and cold treatments.”
That is so much money. Imagine the money and time you can save if you set your immune system up for success by feeding it what it needs! Below you will find a list of foods that are natural immune boosters—in other words, they keep our immune system functioning at its best when cold and flu season approaches.
As always, we recommend organic and non-GMO.
Bone Broth: Broth made from chicken or beef bones has amazing health benefits that I won’t get deep into here, but the idea that “chicken soup makes you feel better” is true for a reason. Bone broth helps grow good bacteria in your gut, which is in charge of most of our immune system. It also boosts detoxification and metabolism, both of which help us to recover from illness. You can drink it by itself or use it for soups and sauces. Or, you can use a powdered form and add it to a protein smoothie in the mornings or your favorite nut milk. I sometimes add it to my morning cup of coffee, too.
Elderberry (Black): Elderberry has been proven to both prevent and reduce duration of various flu strains and colds. There are several ways to take elderberry. You can buy a syrup or gummies, or you can even make your own!
Echinacea: Echinacea has been proven to reduce the chance of catching the common cold by 58% and reduce the duration of it to a day and a half. It is also shown to reduce the risk of respiratory infections caused by bacteria. You can put it in a mister bottle to help soothe sore throats, or take it as a tincture.
Foods High in Beta Carotene: Beta carotene, which is found in foods such as sweet potatoes and carrots, is high in antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals (special molecules that disturb the structure of healthy cells). Roasting carrots or baking sweet potatoes with oil or butter are delicious ways to give your body needs.
Foods High in Curcumin: Curcumin, found in turmeric, curry powder, mango, and ginger (to name a few), is a potent anti-inflammatory and has broad antimicrobial actions, killing some kinds of bacteria and viruses. Turmeric is a common spice that you can add to your day easily. Add it to scrambled eggs, salad dressings, rice, veggies, soups, even smoothies! If the flavor of these natural immune boosters isn’t your jam, you can take a supplement too!
Foods High in Probiotics (i.e. raw cheese, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles): It’s believed that 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. That means it’s important to take care of our digestive system, eat fermented foods, and give our gut the good bacteria it needs to thrive. And the good news is that the delicious foods listed above will do that!
Foods High in Selenium: Selenium, found in foods such as Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, and oysters, is high in antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory. It also increases blood flow and keeps the heart healthy.
Foods High in Vitamin C: We all know that vitamin C helps our immune system, but did you know that guava and kiwis have the most, not oranges?
Foods High in Vitamin D: Vitamin D is one of the most amazing vitamins ever, and yet most people are deficient in it. That doesn’t help our immune system one bit. In addition to foods high in vitamin D (such as cod liver oil, wild-caught sockeye salmon, and crimini mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light), you can also get vitamin D is by being outside and getting some sunshine and exercise (which is good for so many reasons, including maintaining a productive immune system). All the things, so good…
Foods High in Vitamin E: Vitamin E is “one of the most effective nutrients known to modulate immune function.” It’s an antioxidant that fights off those nasty free radicals. And bonus–it balances cholesterol and is a natural anti-aging nutrient. Sunflower seeds, almonds, and avocado are all high in Vitamin E.
Foods High in Zinc: A zinc deficiency causes a weakness in the immune system, so getting enough zinc is imperative for keeping up your good health. Oysters, chuck steak, and chicken legs are all high in zinc. You can also find a good zinc supplement if you’re struggling to get your daily dose.
Garlic: Garlic is antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal, and has been shown to prevent and diminish the effects of the common cold. It is so easy to add garlic to anything you’re making. Garlic can be sauteed, roasted, raw, any which way your heart desires. Scientists suggest leaving the garlic to sit for 10 minutes after you have prepared it (before you cook it). They believe the time activates the allicin, which is the good stuff inside each delicious garlic clove.
Green Tea: Green tea is loaded with beneficial nutrients–we’re talking flavanoids, tannins, amino acids, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E. It’s an antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant. Green tea also has things called catechins, which prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching to and infecting cell walls. Try this organic green tea or these green tea supplements.
Honey (raw and local, if not Manuka): Honey is an antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and can be antimicrobial (depending on where the nectar is harvested from). The greatest honey with the highest antibacterial content is manuka honey; you want to find one that has a UMF rating of 10+ or MGO 261+. A great option is this one. Manuka honey is more expensive than local honey, but if you’re using it for your health, what costs more–a doctor visit and prescriptions or a teaspoon of manuka? Add it to tea or coffee, put it on toast, or take a teaspoon as is! A spoonful of honey is the prescription your body needs.
Oregano: Oregano is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and has super high antioxidants (4x more than blueberries). In fact, it’s shown to potentially rival antibiotic medication in effectiveness. You can easily add dry or fresh oregano to whatever you’re making that day. You can also add four drops of oregano essential oil to a glass of water and reap the benefits, or you can buy oil of oregano supplements.
Our bodies are more than capable of fighting off whatever bacteria or virus we naturally come across. But it’s our responsibility to equip it with the right tools to do that, and it starts with these natural immune boosters.
Happy immune boosting!
Here is a round-up of products we recommend for your shopping convenience!
- Bone broth
- Bone broth powder
- Elderberry syrup
- Elderberry gummies
- Organic elderberry syrup
- Oregano supplements
- Green tea
- Green tea supplements
- Manuka honey
- Zinc supplement
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