There is a lot of concern at the moment on how we can boost our immune system and stay healthy naturally. It is a great idea at any time to take a proactive approach for our health and look for ways to strengthen our bodies against infections. One of the many great things about approaching this naturally is that all of these options benefit the body in more than one way. This means that while we’re strengthening our immune system against infections, we can also support many other aspects of our health including from good digestion and collagen production.
These top 10 ways to boost your immunity are gentle and some of them can and should be followed daily to keep building the foundations of your immune system. We’ve included herbs, vitamins, minerals, and foods for a variety of options to choose from so it fits every lifestyle, and every age-range. Take a look and see what can be added to your daily routine that will help strengthen the immune system as well as grant other health benefits!
Astragalus has been used for hundreds of years in Traditional Chinese medicine. It supports different systems in the body including our immune system. It contains Astragalosides, which are antioxidants that help support the respiratory tract. Polysaccharides are also found in astragalus and will provide immune support as well. It can also help with stress, which a very key feature with astragalus. Stress can diminish the body’s ability to fight off infection so supporting your nervous system and stress response will keep you healthier. Astragalus is a great herb that can be added to our routine as a tea, tincture, and capsule!
Oil of Oregano is known for its anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. There are healing compounds like carvacrol, thymol, and terpenes found in oregano. One study done on oregano essential oil found that it can inhibit viruses in-vitro due to the carvacrol that is found in oregano. It has also been found that taking oregano oil instead of just the carvacrol can help fight respiratory viruses. A versatile herb to have on hand, you can get oil of oregano in a tincture or a capsule, depending on what you prefer.
This is an herb that may not be as commonly used in North America, but is fantastic for boosting up our immune system. Used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as well as Traditional Chinese medicinal practices, this herb is great for helping with respiratory infections and the flu. This plant is very bitter, which helps with digestion making it a diverse option for supporting your immune system. Available as a capsule and tincture, this is a great new herb to try.
A great tasting addition to your regimen is elderberry syrup! It is thought to help prevent and reduce symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. It also has shown to be a potent anti-viral. A big perk of this one is kids usually enjoy the flavour, making this easier to get them to take. It’s also gentle enough for children to take daily, and adults can take it too!
This vitamin is a powerhouse antioxidant and something that can be taken all year round. It can act as an antihistamine and helps our body’s anti-viral immune response as well. It’s also a part of hormone production and needed for making collagen. We can get it from food fairly easily by eating citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries, just to mention a few. We can also supplement with it, the most common form being ascorbic acid. If you find ascorbic acid too acidic for your stomach, there is the form calcium ascorbate that is more pH balanced and may be easier to tolerate. Take this one all year round for multiple health benefits in addition to immune benefits.
An all-star mineral that’s going to help with your immune is zinc. It is an important mineral used by the body that has many jobs. It helps with wound healing and skin elasticity as well as supporting our immune system. It helps to fight off bacteria and viruses. We can take it as a daily supplement and it can also be found in foods. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc. When we feel that sore throat happening, take a zinc lozenge over a pill. Having the zinc touch the infected area is best! And zinc lozenges have been shown to reduce a cold’s duration!
So, what does having good gut bacteria have to do with our immune system?
Around 70% of our immune system is in our gut! We have Peyer’s Patches that are considered immune sensors in our gut, as well as having antibodies released from certain cells. Having lots of gut-loving bacteria will help with immune support. They can help with the production of natural antibodies, as well as inhibit the growth of any bad bacteria that can make us sick. Supplementing with a probiotic or having fermented foods will help build a strong immune system
An important vitamin that does a lot of work for us, like improving mood and helping with calcium absorption. It’s also a key player for our immune system. There have been studies showing that lower levels of vitamin D can lead to increased infections. Add to that, being in Canada, supplementing with vitamin D is advised because of our lack of sun through the winter. When taking our vitamin D, make sure it’s taken with fat, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin, and this will increase its absorption. The good news is many vitamin D drops come mixed with things like MCT oil for that added fat.
Let’s not forget foods that can help us fight off infections! Potent and flavourful, garlic has been found to have many benefits, one of which is boosting our immune system. There is a compound in garlic called allicin which turns into other sulfur compounds that give garlic it’s healing qualities. This can help boost the disease-fighting response of white blood cells against viruses such as the cold or flu. Garlic should be eaten raw or you can cut up your garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking to maintain the health benefits. For something quick and easy, there are garlic capsules that you can take to get all of garlic’s goodness!
That ginger tea used for colds has some pretty impressive benefits to it. Shown to be a potent anti-viral, the gingerols, and zingerone, active components of ginger, have been shown to inhibit viral replication and stop the virus from going into the host cell. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory and that can help with any inflammation from being sick. It also helps to ease and reduce nausea. It can be used daily as a tea or used fresh. Ginger capsules and tinctures are available if you are looking to get a higher dose of ginger.
If you get sick, some of the herbs mentioned here will reduce the duration and severity of your symptoms, helping to protect you in many ways. Other ways to help protect yourself is to look at lifestyle factors as there are many things we can to help prevent illness, such as:
Taking good care to support your immune system at any time of year is important and these top 10 go-to’s will keep you covered all year round!