Do you feel like you’re always getting sick? Like you catch every cold out there, and even the flu shot you get doesn’t prevent your body from catching it each year?
Or are you prone to infections? UTIs have just become a part of your life, and you feel like you live on antibiotics?
Before we talk about some helpful solutions to boosting your immune system, let’s consider what exactly the immune system is and why it might need some boosting in the first place:
The immune system consists of antibodies, white blood cells, organs, lymph nodes and vessels, and bone marrow. Its role is to protect you against things it perceives to be a threat, be it a virus, a bacteria, a parasite, a toxin, or even physical trauma.
Some of the most common reasons our immune systems get run down include stress, a bad diet (think high sugar and highly processed foods), excessive drinking, chronically poor sleep, obesity, a lack of exercise and medications (especially frequent use of antibiotics).
If you feel like you’re doing most things well—you workout, you eat well, you try to reduce stress and you prioritize your sleep—and your immune system still needs a boost, here are 7 things you might consider consuming:
Astragalus is a herb known to be an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body fight stress, which is one of the biggest factors that compromise the immune system. This study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22981502) even showed it can help decrease inflammation, which is also linked to immune function.
Calendula, or at least the petals from the calendula flower have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant capabilities. Calendula can be found in various forms, such as teas, ointments, and washes to treat wounds, burns, and infections. It’s specifically useful for ear infections if you’re prone to those.
This might be a strange one, but when it comes to fending off colds, Vitamin E plays a big role. We often think of Vitamin C as king, but Vitamin E might be even more important. Nuts like almonds are filled with Vitamin E.
Like calendula, garlic has antiviral, antibacterial and even antibiotic abilities. Some research has even found taking garlic extract significantly reduces the number of cold and flu symptoms people experience. Check out this study if you’re curious to read more: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915757/)
Ginger is known to be an antihistamine, and also has antibacterial and anti-nausea properties that specifically help the digestive tract and improve immune function.
The next time you have a cold, try this drink ginger tea-like drink: Boil water with shredded ginger (let simmer for a good 30 minutes). Strain it (unless you don’t mind small chunks of ginger), add some lemon juice and honey. Boom, you will feel your sinuses clear up in no time. And it tastes pretty good too if you’re into the strong taste of ginger.
2. Oil of Oregano
Oregano is knowns to have healing capabilities, specifically the oil part. It is believed these healing properties stem from carvacrol and thymol, two compounds oil of oregano contains, which both have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It’s specifically good for viral infections, allergies, parasites and reducing inflammation.
What isn’t spinach good for, right?
It’s high in Vitamin C, and also high in beta carotene, known to help our infection-fighting capacity. It’s healthiest when it is cooked as little as possible, so it retains its vitamins. Cooking it too much means it starts releasing its nutrients and then you’ll never feel their benefit.
One final tip:
If you have been on antibiotics recently, it’s always important to get yourself on a high dose (the higher CFU count the better) of probiotics. Don’t go for the cheap ones with the low CFU count. Spend the money and probiotic up so your body doesn’t become infection-prone.