Assorted fruit

Nature’s Immune Boosters

During the winter, every cough, sigh, and handshake in the office, on the subway, or at the grocery store can appear to be a deliberate plan to spread germs. If you’re like me, you don’t enjoy the constant barrage of advice to take this or that supplement one to four times a day to become a super-human fortress of health. So how can you help your immune system naturally?

Fruits and Veggies

Fruit is probably the first to come to mind: oranges, strawberries,
kiwis and other fruits (and vegetables like spinach and bell peppers) contain a lot of vitamin C. Many people only increase their intake of vitamin C once they already have a cold or other illness, but this approach actually has little benefit. Regular consumption of foods high in vitamin C, however, can help your immune system fight off colds before you get them, or help you get over them more quickly and with less severe symptoms.

Garlic

You may not want to smell like it all the time, but garlic has a lot of natural benefits. It seems to help the body produce more white blood cells to fight infection, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production against viruses. Scientific research is still limited, but garlic has long been used for treating and preventing digestive and respiratory infections.

Maitake Mushroom

Studies are beginning to provide support for the maitake mushroom, often used in folk medicine as a natural immune booster. Specifically, certain components appear to help macrophages provide a healthy immune system response and reduce intestinal inflammation. (Viruses and bacteria often lodge in the intestinal tract before spreading to other parts of the body.)

Rooibos Tea

Rooibos infusions, made from red honeybush, have become an increasingly popular, caffeine-free alternative to coffee and regular teas. But in addition to not giving you the jitters, rooibos is a highly concentrated source of antioxidants (especially vitamin C). Check out some other benefits here.

Ginseng and more: 

Many immune-boosting herbs can be bought in bulk and brewed as an infusion or are already incorporated into other tea blends. Echinacea is widely used for colds and upper respiratory infections. Ginseng (including the American ginseng used in Perfect Fuel Chocolate) may bolster the immune system and help you get sick less often. Other adaptogenic herbs promote well-being during cold and flu season, too. (More about adaptogens in this post!)

More information can be found at: “How to Boost Your Immune System with Herbs” – though, of course, for real expert advice, you should consult an herbalist or a doctor.

Post written by: Rebecca Dobrzynski 2/10/12