Boosting immunity naturally.
There are lots and lots of single remedies, as well as combination remedies that are effective when boosting the immune system. What is important to understand is that it is normal to have a couple of colds a year, but the duration and severity can be reduced, when one is eating well and if possible supplementing with some natural immune boosters either preventatively or from the onset of symptoms.
Garlic, garlic, garlic… The old wives tale is relevant. Raw garlic in the diet is very helpful to boost the system. However if you are not into the raw form there are some excellent supplemental form. Look for good quality extracts of aged garlic, which seems to have higher antioxidant levels, and even odourless garlic capsules are available if you prefer. The natural anti-oxidant properties of garlic make it a great immune booster.
Bulk up on the vitamin C, which is extremely important for immune boosting. Aim to include plenty of vitamin C rich foods in the diet, namely brightly coloured fresh fruits and vegies, especially citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage and parsley. Year round supplement with vitamin C, and at the onset of cold or flu symptoms increase the dosage up to 2-3 g a day, taken divided 500-1000mg dosages. Look out for what is termed non-acidic vitamin C supplements, also known as Ester-C, as it is more readily available to the system and less irritating to the digestive tract.
Have a green smoothie! Include spirulina a superfood algae, with great health-promoting properties. Spirulina seems to stimulate immune function, with the added bonuses of being anti-cancerous and rich in iron and selenium, both of which are powerful antioxidants in the body. Add the powder to your daily smoothie, also add chlorella and wheatgrass to the mix to make a green powerhouse smoothie.
More great immune-boosting foods to include are miso, ginger, garlic, onions and organic yoghurt, plus green and elderflower teas. Also eat antioxidant rich foods like prunes, apples, raisins, plums, aubergines, beans and sprouts. Do make sure to pack some more fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate, as they are rich in antioxidants. The three major antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. They are most abundant in colourful fruits and vegetables, especially purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables.
- Beta-carotene: apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon
- Vitamin C: berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, tomatoes, and red, green, or yellow peppers
- Vitamin E: broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds
Eat foods rich in zinc and selenium. Zinc is mostly found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, and dairy products. The best sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, and other grain products.
Beta glucans are crucial weapons in boosting the immune system, they act as immunomodulator agents, meaning they trigger the processes that regulate the immune system and make it more efficient. The body does not produce beta glucan, so we need to include sources of it in our diets like baker’s yeast, shiitake mushrooms. It is also found in cereal grains, like barley, oats, rye, and wheat.
Fascinating fact time – mankind’s natural healers have cultivated and relied on elderflower for over 4,000 years. Traditionally used for detoxification purposes, elderflower seems to help strengthen the immune system through aiding the clearing of the lymph nodes and also preventing free radical damage. Elderflower is also effective as a diuretic, laxative, and insect-repellent. Best brewed as a tea, with a slice of lemon or ginger added and breathe the scent deeply to relax. Elderflower is a great restorative tea, and also is effective to ease seasonal allergies and asthma. To brew a cup, add three to four grams of elderflower flowers to five ounces of hot water and let steep for 10 to 20 minutes.
Reishi, shiitake. mitake – no we are not speaking Chinese! The Chinese have been using mushroom extracts in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. Medicinal mushrooms are good on both sides of the immune spectrum, both in boosting immunity, but they also seem to regulate the immune response. They also have shown promise in boosting cardiovascular health and lowering cholesterol.
A healthy gut means a healthy you. Do not under estimate. It is especially important to supplement with probiotics both during, but especially after anti-biotic therapy. There is increasing evidence of a relationship between probiotics in the gut and the immune system. It is important to supplement with the right types of probiotics and for the correct length of time. Always consult a health care practitioner.
My personal favourite is Echinacea. I have personally found it great at warding off, but also treating colds and reducing the duration of a cold. Echinacea is available in tincture, pills and capsules. Please consult a consult a health care practitioner, as to appropriate dosages and duration of treatment.
Olive leaf is another potent herbal – it seems to either kill, and/or resist multiplication of a everything from viruses to bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and other parasites in the body. One of the nicest things about olive leaf is that a opposed to the traditional immune boosters it does not stimulate the immune system, but rath3re does the work for your body. In run down and stressed patients this prove advantageous, as in this way olive leaf extract allows your to restore itself. A second benefit while it does its work it does not harm the "good" gut bacteria, unlike antibiotics. This is especially important, as research seems to be showing that up to as about 70% of your immunity is reliant on your gut health. Finally it is also a great preventative, meaning that it can be taken to prior to exposure to an infection for prevention purposes.
One of the most fascinating immune supplements is colostrum. It is also known as a functional food. It contains an array of immune support nutrients and it is what is present in a mother’s milk to enable a new-born to fend off infections until the babies immune system is fully functional. What we do know so far is that colostrum contains is the following: Immunoglobulins, Thymic peptides that support thymus gland - key for immune function, Cytokines that signal immune activation, Lactoferrin and various enzymes that support digestive immune function and an insulin-like growth factor that supports tissue repair and glucose metabolism. Colostrum is proving an effective supplement in the field of immune boosting. For those whom are lactose intolerant or allergic please consult you doctor.
When needing to boost the immune system, especially with vitamins and herbal supplements, please consult a health care practitioner, and or your GP before commencing any treatment.
About The Author:
After eight years in the retail side of the health industry, much accumulation of knowledge and information I changed industries completely and gone back to my graphic design roots. I still wish to help inform people on natural alternatives, as well as help people when they are choosing to use natural alternatives to treat disorders, diseases and distresses.
(Read more posts by Charlie)