It’s that time of year when staying on top of colds and flus can be challenging.
Here are some easy steps you can take to naturally support your immune system.
Echinacea, Vitamin C and Zinc are helpful in protecting against colds and flus. Increasing your Vitamin C dosage is one of the easiest ways to boost immune function. Your body also needs zinc for immune support, and you can find this in quality organic grass-fed beef, chicken and lamb.
Garlic and Onion
Get plenty of garlic and onion onto your plate. Garlic is rich in antioxidants and selenium, and is also antibacterial and antiviral.
A recent scientific study shows increased immunity in people who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks. Not only was the immune system enhanced, but inflammation was also reduced. Shiitake mushrooms are native to Asia and are cultivated for their culinary and medicinal value, so perhaps try a new Asian dish this week.
Probiotics boost good bacteria in the gut and can help the body fight off pathogenic bacteria and trigger appropriate white cell reactions to invaders. Raw milk and raw cheese, fermented foods and kefir are good to include in the diet. There are probiotic supplements as well, which are especially important if you’ve taken antibiotics.
There is a reason chicken soup is a go-to for cold and flu season. The chicken provides cysteine and amino acids that break up congestion, while the hot soup can strengthen the movement of white blood cells and the broth is ultra hydrating.
Essential oils can be used topically, internally or diffused in the home to support the immune system. Many oils have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Oregano, tea tree and frankincense can support the immune system, while eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary and cypress can support the respiratory system and aid against congestion and chesty coughs.
Reduce Sugar Intake
A few grams of sugar can destroy your white blood cells’ ability to resist infections for several hours. Sugar inhibits phagocytosis, the process by which viruses and bacteria are engulfed and then literally chewed up by white blood cells.
Sleep, Sunlight and Stress
The three “S”s – sleep, sunlight and stress – impact on your body’s ability to stay healthy. Good quality sleep assists the immune system, so make sure you’re getting enough. Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, so make some time to get outside for 20-30 minutes every day. Stress and anxiety is considered a leading cause in decreased immunity, so perhaps try some yoga, exercise or meditation.
A sedentary lifestyle has been proven to have negative effects on health and the immune system. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is recommended. Experts say that it takes a half-hour of aerobic exercise to sweep white blood cells, key immune system components that are stuck on the blood vessel walls, back into circulation. But don’t think you need to sign up to that intense step class- moderate exercise is the key. If your exercise is too intense for your fitness level, it can actually suppress your immune system.
If all your preventative measures haven’t pulled through for you and you’ve ended up with the dreaded flu, this may be worth a try:
Black Elderberry Extract
Black elderberry extract has been clinically proven to help get over the flu within a couple of days. It is inexpensive and has no side effects, so it’s a great remedy to make at home. Antioxidants in elderberry called flavonoids stimulate the immune system. Other compounds in elderberry, called anthocyanins, have an anti-inflammatory effect which eases aches, pains and fever associated with the flu.
We’d love to see you in store for some fresh seasonal veggies and an organic chicken for your home made soup!
We also have everything you need to know about making your own chicken broth here.