As soon as the weather starts getting colder in October and November, cold and flu start spreading around like rapid fire. Our bodies have to fight extra hard all winter long to maintain wellness and a balanced immune system. I’ve been extremely proactive about boosting my immune system for the past several years, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t gotten sick in about 3-4 years. I’ve definitely felt the start of what feels like a cold or sore throat, but using the following protocol and incorporating a diet of immune boosting foods has always saved me from getting any full-blown illness. I would say the things I swear by most are raw garlic, adaptogens, doTerra’s On Guard essential oil blend, probiotics, vitamin C and apple cider vinegar tonic. What are your favorite, go-to immune boosters?
Garlic contains allicin, an active compound that fights against bacteria and cancer in the body. Garlic also has natural antimicrobial and antiviral properties. When I start to feel my body fighting something off, I use 1-2 cloves of raw garlic pressed into my favorite salad dressing.
Citrus fruits like grapefruit, orange, lemon and tangerine are some of the best sources of vitamin C, which is one of the most well-known immune boosters. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that protects against cellular damage.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens contain so many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In particular, spinach is an iron-rich source of the B-vitamin folate, which helps the body repair DNA and aids in the production of new cells.
Almonds and other nuts, particularly Brazil nuts, are rich in selenium, copper, vitamin E and zinc, which all boost the body’s immune system.
Papaya is a rich source of antioxidants like carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids, the B-vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid, and the minerals, potassium, copper, and magnesium.
Green tea contains powerful plant antioxidants called polyphenols that boost immunity. Try swapping your regular morning coffee for green tea.
Peppers contains vitamin C and capsaicin. Capsaicin aids in circulation, reduces pain and inflammation and thins mucus.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, and important source of vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to heightened sensitivity to infections.
Kiwi packs a punch! A great source of vitamin C, D, B6, B12, K, zinc and folate. It’s also a great prebiotic food, which helps feed the probiotic bacteria in your gut.
Broccoli is a sulfuric, nutrient-dense vegetable that boosts the body’s natural resistance to cold and flu.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Curcumin, which gives turmeric its vibrant color and smell, aids in the body’s destruction of cancer cells. It can also kill bad bacteria in your gut.
Ginger has potent antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the body. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat nausea.
Adaptogens aid in the body’s response to stress. Many adaptogens are powerful immune boosters. My favorite ones for immunity are astragalus, ashwagandha and licorice root.
Probiotics are vital to maintaining a healthy gut and crucial in the prevention of colds. Choose a probiotic with more than 5 strains of bacteria and more than 20-billion colony forming units (CFU). Another great way to incorporate probiotics to your diet is by eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and kombucha.
doTerra’s On Guard Blend consists of wild orange peel, clove bud, cinnamon bark/leaf, eucalyptus leaf and rosemary essential oils. I swear by this stuff. It supports healthy immune function and promotes healthy circulation, which boosts immunity. You can get the oil and add a few drops to a veggie capsule yourself, or Do Terra sells On Guard Soft Gels as well.
Vitamin C is most commonly known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also aids in healthy skin, which acts as a protective shield against infection. Although there are many food sources of vitamin C, in the winter months I also take a supplement to further protect against illness.
Apple Cider Vinegar tonic is one of my favorite ways to soothe, and usually get rid of, a sore throat. In a mug, mix 1-2 Tablespoons of ACV with warm (not hot!) water, lemon juice and a little bit of raw honey.
Yoga and breathwork help us deal with stress and anxiety in profound ways. Stress is a huge factor in disease. Breathwork supports lymphatic detoxification. A healthy lymph boosts resistance to cold and flu.
Sleep is a key factor in defense against cold and flu. Our chances for catching disease are always heightened when we aren’t getting enough sleep.
Water is life, and the key to a balanced system within your body, especially when you’re sick. Set a few reminders in your phone throughout the day if you have trouble remembering to drink water.
Cut out dairy, sugar and alcohol, which all act as immune system suppressants. Dairy also increases mucus production, which often makes you feel sicker than you are.