02 Nov 5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
Fall is my favorite season with its crisp autumn air, leaves changing colors, pumpkin spiced everything and warm cozy sweaters – there are so many things to love! What I don’t love about fall (and I think most people would agree!) are the nasty cold and flu viruses that spread like wildfire throughout schools and workplaces. When it comes to staying healthy during peak illness season the best defense is a good offense! A balanced diet, adequate rest and these 5 natural immune boosting supplements will keep you feeling healthy and strong this fall and winter!
The medicinal use of elderberries dates back to ancient Egypt, and was popularized by the Greek philosopher Hippocrates. Elderberry is one of the most widely used antiviral herbs in the world. It has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of both the common cold and influenza. The berries themselves contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins, which stimulate the bodies’ immune system. Elderberry extract contains flavonoids which bind to at least two strains of the influenza virus, helping the body to exterminate the virus more quickly and effectively. This is one of my favorite herbs because it is safe for all ages and it actually tastes good!
Zinc is an essential trace element that our body needs daily to aid in digestion, hormone regulation, growth and repairment, and immunity. It fights inflammation, free radicals, and the aging process, and can be used to treat cancer and heart disease. When broken down into its simplest form, zinc ions can bind to receptors in the nasal passages, blocking the production of mucous and the multiplication of bacteria. The best source of zinc is animal protein, since its rate of absorption is slowed by nutrient-dense (plant) foods. Zinc supplements can also be taken daily for optimum health, or at the onset of a cold or the flu to shorten recovery time!
Vitamin D3 is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” because it is synthesized by our bodies when we expose our skin to sunlight. In truth, it is not actually a vitamin, but a hormone and it is needed to activate T-cells, the cells our immune systems use to attack bacteria and viruses. When we have low levels of vitamin D3 in our blood, our immune response cannot be fully activated. The best way to get Vitamin D3 is to get outside in the sun daily; and the darker your skin, the more exposure you may need! This can be tricky for some, especially in the winter. I recommend having your vitamin D3 levels checked regularly to determine your body’s specific Vitamin D3 needs.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil has been used medicinally for hundreds of years, and became popular after the industrial revolution, when it became much easier to extract the oil. It contains Omega-3 essential fatty acid chains, which our bodies cannot produce, and which are necessary for brain function, mental health, weight management, cardiac function, insulin levels, and bone health, just to name a few. Omega-3 fats are also the building blocks of cellular health; a diet rich in these “good fats” increases the production and activation of T-cells. Because our modern diets are severely deficient in Omega-3 fats, Cod Liver Oil is an excellent supplement for increasing this essential nutrient. I love Cod Liver Oil for immune boosting because in addition to the Omega 3s it also contains Vitamin D3 and Vitamin A, both of which are extremely important for the immune system. When you are looking for a Cod Liver Oil supplement, look for one extracted from wild-caught fish, and minimally processed so as to retain the highest amount of nutrients!
When we hear the word “bacteria” many of us think of illness, but the truth is there are far more strains of bacteria that are beneficial to our health than strains that can make us sick. Our entire gastrointestinal system is made up of trillions of bacteria (10 trillion to be exact!) When we are tired, stressed, or consuming too many processed foods, the “bad” bacteria in our gut flourish. We can help increase the “good” bacteria that fight inflammation, digestive issues, disease and illness by supplementing with probiotics. Probiotics come in pill form, or you can eat fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. Kombucha (one of my favorites as many of you know!) is another great option; it is a fermented tea with live “good” bacterial cultures.
Keeping yourself and your family well this time of year is possible! As always, if you have questions about how to keep you and your family healthy we are here for you!