It is fall and that means more people are going to be getting colds and flu bugs and spreading their germs everywhere. In this blog post I am going to share ways to keep the immune system happy and strong naturally.
I have used these methods for the past couple of years and in the last two years I have caught a cold each winter, I was so upset when I caught them too. I was thinking "How can this be happening? I am treating my body so good. How did I catch a cold! Ugh!" However both colds lasted 3 days and then they were completely gone! No lingering coughs, sniffles or anything.
Let's briefly talk about what the immune system is. It is a network of cells that are our defense system and helps us fight against diseases. Which is really important. We really want our immune system to be as strong as possible so it can either help prevent us from getting sick, or if we do end up getting sick, to have an easier time getting over it.
Here are my immune boosting diets:
Diet: Diet is the most important and effective way for keeping your immune system healthy and strong. If you are eating a ton of junk food, the rest of my tips are not going to be very helpful. It is so important to be feeding your body healthy foods.
If you are eating a bunch of processed junk, this can put a big toll on your body. This can weaken organ systems in your body including your immune system. Your body does a great job at keeping you in homeostasis, but it can only take so much before it starts to have issues.
So what should you be eating?
Foods especially that are good for the immune system: bone broth, veggie broth, garlic, onion, ginger, spinach, kale, turmeric, broccoli, fermented foods (sauerkraut, kim chi, yogurt...) and citrus.
Vitamins and minerals: Making sure that you have the proper amount of vitamin and minerals is so important to keeping the whole body healthy, which means it is also really important for the immune system. If you are eating a good diet, most of your vitamin and minerals can come from your food.
Vitamin and minerals that are especially good for immune support are:
Vitamin C - you can find in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, berries melons, papaya, broccoli, tomatoes, kales, cauliflower, cabbage, parsley, sprouts, potatoes and peppers.
Vitamin B (group) -you can find in beef, liver, seeds, nuts, grains, beans, avocado, green leafy vegetable, egg yolk, potatoes, lentils, raw milk, tuna, salmon, pistachio nuts. bananas, whole grain cereals, pinto beans, kidney beans, legumes, raisins, sesame seed,chickpeas, fermented food, seaweed, sunflower seeds and pollen.
Vitamin D - you can find in salmon, egg yolk, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, fish like herring, oysters, sardines, shrimp, tuna, cod liver oil, mushroom, nuts, seeds and sprouts. (Also getting outside in the sun without sunscreen for a short time can help get vitamin D)
Vitamin E - you can find in green leafy vegetable, avocado, tomato, broccoli, parsnip, Brussel sprouts, peaches, blackberries, grapes, olives, nuts (especially hazelnut and peanuts) , seeds (especially sunflower seeds) and grains.
Iron - you can find in liver, beef, red meat, egg yolk, dark chocolate, spinach, broccoli, kale, pumpkin seeds, lentils, quinoa, prunes, raisins and black strap molasses.
Selenium - you can find in garlic, broccoli, nuts, tuna, sardines, beef and poultry.
Zinc - you can find in oyster, crab, beef, lamb, lobster, chicken, yogurt, spinach, cashew, chickpeas and oatmeal.
Herbs: I love herbs and use them on a daily basis. They are a great way for enhancing a good diet. Herbs have many different benefits. They all come from plants and most of them have medicinal uses and most are packed with so many vitamins and minerals and other amazing properties.
There is so much you can do with herbs. You can make them into teas, infusions, tinctures, put them in capsules, make lattes, sometimes you can put them on salads and other dishes and some you use topically.
My favorite herbs for boosting the immune system are:
Dandelion - Dandelion is packed with all sorts of vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and iron. It has anti-inflammation, antiviral, bitter tonic, immune tonic and prebiotic properties in it. It helps detox the liver and gallbladder.
Nettle - Nettle is also packed with so also sorts of vitamin and minerals, like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B (group), vitamin B, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper. Nettle has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammation properties. Nettle helps the body toxic from all sorts of toxins.
Rose Hip - Rose hip is packed with all sorts of vitamins and minerals as well, but especially in vitamin C. Rose hip had immune, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Elderberry - Elderberry is pack with vitamins an minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. Elderberries have immune boosting properties and are great for keeping the immune system happy. Disclaimer, Edlerberries are safe when consumed dried or cooked. They should never be consumed raw.
Yarrow - Yarrow has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic and antiviral properties. When yarrow is consumed hot, like in a hot tea, it helps open the pore and promotes perspiration. This helps to get toxins out through the skin.
Plantain - Not to be mistaken for the banana, the plantain I am talk about has the Latin name Plantago major and is a very common weed in most people's backyard. Plantain, has antibiotic, anti-inflammation and immune boosting properties.
Licorice Root - This herb has the same common name as the candy, but they are very different. The Latin name of this herb is Glycyrrhiza glabra. Licorice root has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral properties. Licorice root helps keep the immune system healthy, but it also helps with coughs and sore throats. If you make a tea with this herb, I suggest combining with an earthy herb, because licorice root is VERY sweet!
Thyme - Not just for seasoning. Thyme has very power antiseptic properties. This helps to protect and overcome disease easier.
Ginger - Ginger has antibiotic and anti-inflammation properties.
Garlic - Many years ago garlic was nick-named the 'cure-all' herb. Garlic has antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Garlic is great for keeping the immune system happy and fighting infections.
Essential oils are great for keeping the immune system happy. There are so many great ways to use essential oils. You can use them topically, in capsules (if you go this route, make sure they are safe to consume and make sure to use the recommended amount) and my favorite in diffusers.
Essentials oils I love using for boosting the immune system are:
There are many reasons why exercising can help with the immune system, but there are two main reasons.
When you moving you start to sweat and when you are sweating this help eliminate toxins from the skin.
Also the immune system is very close the lymphatic system. These two are very closely tied to one another. The lymphatic system is the first line of defense against disease. The lymphatic is almost designed like the cardiovascular system. We have vessel running all throughout our bodies, they are connected to the lymph nodes in our bodies, transporting lymph and helping us get rid of toxins, waste and unwanted materials. The major difference between the cardiovascular system and that lymphatic system, is there is no pump to pump the lymph around, like the heart pumps the blood throughout are body. So we need to move our booties to get our lymphs moving throughout our bodies! This really helps the lymphatic system keep our immune system healthy and strong.
Stress puts a huge toll on our whole body. I have seen it so many times, where people are so stressed out and not taking care of themselves and then, not only do they get sick, they have a heck of a time getting over their cold, flu bug or what ever they caught.
Did you know that stress depletes your body of vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E and magnesium? They are all vitamins and minerals we need to keep our bodies healthy.
Ways to promote stress management are:
Take time for yourself and do something for you.
Do something that you find fun.
Eat healthier, this makes your body stronger and have a better chance at handling the stress.
Exercise, is a great stress reliever.
Feel your feelings, but don't dwell on the negative.
Get outside in the fresh air and in nature.
So there you have it! Ways to keep the immune system strong!
I thought that I would share two recipes with you. One I created and the other is one a famous herbalist Rosemary Gladstar created.
Here is my immune boosting latte:
This is gluten free, dairy free, caffeine free, grain free, vegan, mine is all organic and non-GMO, and it was not tested on animals...although my dogs wish it was!
The main ingredient in this latte is elderberry. Elderberries have amazing immune boosting properties. Elderberry is packed with vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.
Elderberry is also great for sinus infections, lowering blood sugar and allergies.
Here is the recipe:
-1 1/2 cups almond milk
-1 tsp dried elderberries (1 tbsp if fresh)
-3 to 5 whole cloves
-1 tbsp of shredded ginger
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-Honey to taste (optional)
In a small saucepan bring almond milk, elderberries, cloves, ginger and cinnamon to a gentle simmer. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Then strain into a mug. If you are using honey, add now.
And then let me know what you think!
I also love Fire Cider and here is a video on how to make fire cider, by Rosemary Gladstar:
You can also add additional ingredients, like thyme, an orange, a lemon or elderberry. You can experiment.
You don't have to do all of these at once. Just start with baby steps and experiment. Do what feels right for you and your body. I hope you have a very healthy fall and winter.
Please contact me if you have any questions.