My Top 10 Immune Boosters
With the extra long and beautiful summer we had, it’s hard to believe that we are in cold and flu season already! Kids are coming home from school with the sniffles, co-workers are calling in sick, and you may be starting to get that little tickle at the back of your throat. At Tall Tree, I'm already seeing patients come in with signs of the flu coming on!
Supporting the immune system with key immune boosting foods, herbs and supplements will help to keep you healthy and increase your resistance to bad bugs this fall, and into the Christmas season (that’s right, I said the ‘C’ word!)
The following are my top 10 immune boosters to keep you healthy this cold and flu season.
1. Back to Basics: Healthy Eating
Healthy dietary choices will help immensely to combat and prevent a cold or flu.. eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and choose a multitude of colors ensuring a balance of vitamins and minerals. For example: yellow (squash), orange (carrots/oranges), green (spinach/kale) and red (pomegranate/tomatoes) are great colours to see on your plate as often as possible. Try to aim for 5 to 8 servings daily.
Include herbs and spices such as ginger, thyme, oregano and garlic to boost your immune system and fight “bad bugs."
Ensure adequate protein and stick to a diet low in refined sugars and processed foods. At the first signs of a cold or flu, I increase my intake of garlic, gargle with salt and drink plenty of herbal tea with fresh lemon, and organic honey.
2. One Word, One Letter: Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects against infection and enhances immunity. Vitamin C works by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies, which both help fight off infection. Typical dosages start at 1000 mg daily but can be increased depending on bowel tolerance. Some Vitamin C sources include citrus fruits, strawberries, papaya, kiwi, broccoli, red pepper and Brussels sprouts.
3. Reinforce Your Gut Flora
Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that work in the intestinal tract. They fight pathogenic infections and promote recovery from infections by stimulating the production of antibodies. A.k.a, taking probiotics through cold & flue season will help level up your immune system.
4. Give Zinc a Chance
Zinc is the most important immune mineral, as it helps to prevent a weakened immune system. Studies have shown that a zinc deficiency can impair a number of white blood cells and platelets (blood cells involved in clotting), and can increase susceptibility to infection (i.e. a cold or flu bug).
5. Artificial Sunshine
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, has powerful immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and bone-supportive properties. Typical dosages start at 1000 IU/daily, but can be increased depending on the condition being treated or how vulnerable the immune system is.
6. Sweet, Sweet Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential immune boosters. They work by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. These fats also help strengthen cell membranes, thereby speeding up healing and strengthening resistance to infection in the body.
7. Try a supplement like ImmunoCare
Plant Sterols found in this supplement help modulate your immune system. Meaning, if parts of your immune system are running too high (as in autoimmune diseases or allergies) they help to bring it down. Or, if they are running too low (like with frequent colds or the flu) sterols help to increase your immune system function.
8. Hit the Herbs: Echinacea
Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea angustifolia has been used for centuries by European healers and Native Americans, and is frequently combined with other immune-boosting plants such as goldenseal.
Ongoing research shows that Echinacea’s active constituents stimulate the immune system to fight viral infections. It is also recommended in cases of laryngitis, cold sores, tonsillitis, and sinusitis.
9. Hit the Herbs, Part 2: Astragalus
Astragalus membranaceous is becoming as popular as Echinacea for combating the flu and supporting the immune system. It is beneficial whenever immune resistance is low, as is the case with all infections, and particularly respiratory infections, colds and flu, and stress-related immune dysfunction.
10. Hit the Herbs, Part 3: Elderberry
Elderberry is often used for its antioxidant activity, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health, and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections.
I hope the above tips help keep the bad bugs away this cold and flu season!