Gimme a Boost!

Everywhere I look, people are coughing and sneezing.  My Facebook news feed is full of people talking about themselves or their loved ones getting sick.  It’s that time of year!  I haven’t gotten sick yet (knock on wood!), but plenty around me have — including my husband.  Here are the tips and tricks I’m practicing to give my immune system that extra “boost” to ward off sickness and chase it away once it has arrived.

1.  Avoid sugar and dairy

Sugar feeds on germs in your body and can actually help prolong or increase the life of your illness.  This can even include natural sugars, which is why drinking orange juice for vitamin C is actually a big fat myth.  The high sugar content in your OJ will actually feed the germs in your body and override any positive effects you get from the vitamin C.  It’s best to get your vitamin C elsewhere! (More on that in a sec)

2. Eat whole foods rich in vitamins

I have mixed feelings about supplements.  The reality is, most vitamin pills just end up being wasted money because you pee out the most important goodness that you’re wanting your body to absorb.  Truly, the best and most reliable source of getting in your vitamins and minerals should be by comsuming them naturally through whole, real foods.  However, will you still find some supplements on my counter?  Yep.  Getting my vitamins through food is my first priority, but yes, I still take a few pills just for extra measure. But when cold and flu season hits, it’s good to step up certain foods to get extra vitamins and minerals that are known to boost the immune system and ward off sickness. Here’s a short list of foods that will give you the most benefits for vitamins that are known to ward off illness: 

Vitamin C
Red and Green Hot Chili Peppers
Bell Peppers (yellow having the most vitamin C of all the colors)
Thyme
Kale
Spinach
Broccoli

Vitamin D
Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Salmon
Eggs
Shiitake Mushrooms
Goat’s Milk

Zinc
Sesame Seeds
Roast Beef
Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
Peanuts
Garlic
Chickpeas

Vitamin A
Paprika
Sweet Potatoes
Carrots
Kale
Spinach
Butternut Squash

3.  Indulge in Nature’s Antibiotic

Garlic.  Garlic is absolutely fantastic and can provide so many health benefits.  Not only is it a great source of zinc, but it can also cleanse your body, ward of parasites, and act as a natural antibiotic.  It also helps lower blood pressure, balance blood sugar, and is a great anti-viral and anti-bacterial wonder-food. 

When garlic is crushed or minced, it produces something called allicin which has antibiotic effects to it.  Garlic for medicinal purposes is best consumed raw, because many of its components that are healing are lost with heat and cooking.  Eat raw garlic as often as you can either from swallowing pieces of it like a pill, or from mincing it and downing it with some honey, creating a raw garlic spread for toast, or by crushing it and putting it into pill capusles.  But be careful because too much garlic on an empty stomach can cause a tummy ache!

4.  Stock Up On Herbal Immune Boosters

I believe that herbs are God’s gift to us through nature for not only creating culinary variety, but a vast array of natural medicines too.  Here are some natural herbs that I use for boosting the immune system:

Echinacea and Goldenseal
Echinacea is pretty common and has been known for a long time to be an anti-inflammatory and a great anti-viral herb for fighting the influenza.  Goldenseal also treats your respiratory tract and soothe your congestion and inflammation.  The two together have been known to create a powerful team and help boost the immune system.

Mullein
Mullein has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy.  The Native Americans used it to treat the croup, and it has been used for coughs and any respiratory issues.  It is a natural expectorant, reduces mucus production, and is often used in treating issues like bronchitis.  I do want to note, however, that it is NOT recommended to be taken by women who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to conceive.

Astragalus
Astragalus is a very common herb in traditional Chinese medicine that is used to boost the immune system, treat cold symptoms, and relieve upper respiratory infections.  This herb helps to increase your white blood cell count which is important when fighting off illness and infections, and it also helps increase your metabolism which promotes your body processing and ridding itself of toxins.  I should note that astragalus can interact with certain medications and shouldn’t be taken by anyone using immune suppressing medications.

Thyme
Thyme in its different forms is known as one of the best all-over body cleaning herbs and is a great immune booster.  Thyme can be used as a cooking herb, made into an essential oil, tincture, tea, or used in baths and aromatherapy.  Thyme tea is often given to people with pneumonia for relief.  It is great for fighting infections in the digestive and respiratory tracts which is why it is commonly used for illnesses like the cold, flu, coughs, and asthma. 

Other herbs and such good for relief:
Honey
Lemon
Peppermint
Licorice
Ginger
Marshmallow

5.  The Common Sense Stuff

A tired, ragged body is going to function just as word down as it feels.  Getting plenty of sleep and rest is essential for letting your body play it’s A game and keeping the immune system high.  Make sure to allow yourself plenty of sleep each night so your body can re-charge from its busy days.  Handwashing is also commonly known as the number one disease fighting prevention.  ALWAYS wash those hands!  And because frequent hand washing can dry out the skin, it’s just as important to moisturize them afterwards so you can prevent cracks, which also leave you vulnerable to germs and bacteria creeping in as well.  Finally, drinking lots and lots of pure, filtered water is also important because it keeps you hydrated and keeps your body flushed of toxins and chemicals that can build up from the environment. 

A bit of a disclaimer:

I am not a doctor and I am not a certified-anything.  This post (and my entire blog, for that matter) is meant for educational purposes but I cannot diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease as I am not formally trained or certified in medicine or herbs.  All of this information I have gathered from books, online resources, personal experience, and the wisdom of people more educated than me whom I trust.  It should be noted that you should seek medical counsel from your practitioner before using any herbal remedies, especially since some natural herbs can interact with each other and with various medications.  Always do your own research and use the treatments you personally feel most comfortable using at your own discretion and risk.