A vital immune system can mean the difference between a pleasant winter (or any season of the year for that matter), and a miserable one. (And if I may, Spring is here, yet it feels at times that winter still hasn’t left us…) Do your part to help your body stay strong with help from these gifts from Mother Nature:
The root and leaves of this purple coneflower have been used for centuries by American Indians and Europeans to boost immunity. Echinacea triggers the body’s white blood cells to attack unwanted invaders. According to research, it can significantly increase the body’s white blood cell count. Specifically, this herb increases the body’s count of T-cells, interferon, interleukin and immunoglobulin.
2. PROBIOTICS (FRIENDLY FLORA)
Believe it or not, your gut is a key part of your immune system. And eating plenty of friendly bacteria (probiotics) helps strengthen your immunity!
A recent study published in Postgraduate Medicine found that women who took a daily probiotic had higher levels of T-cells. T-cells are special white blood cells that support the immune system. So say “Yum!” to yogurt or get crazy for sauerkraut. But check the labels. Some yogurts offer very minimal amounts of friendly flora. Consider taking a quality probiotic supplement.
3. VITAMIN C
Many of us hit the orange juice or eat extra oranges or grapefruits during the winter months. Citrus and other red fruits and veggies (red peppers, strawberries and even leafy greens) contain vitamin C, which helps protect and support the immune system. It also strengthens the cardiovascular system, supports eye health and more.
4. VITAMIN D3
Long-cherished for its support of the bones, vitamin D3 (the sunlight vitamin) is opening eyes for its immune-system benefits. Researchers are studying this nutrient to find out how it helps support immunity. It appears to help regulate the function of lymphocytes (an important type of white blood cells), the production of cytokines (another key white blood cell) and the activity of macrophages (protein messengers vital to immune function).
This flavorful and aromatic member of the onion family stimulates the production of important white blood cells. Garlic also helps quench free radicals in the bloodstream. It even supports heart health.
The western U.S. and Canada are home to the Sambucus nigra or elderberry. Its properties have been studied by many scientists, and for good reason! It contains principals that stimulate the body to make cytokines, a type of protein molecule that enhances the immune system’s response to attacks. This dark-colored berry also contains powerful antioxidants, including anthocyanins.
Most people think of mushrooms as a flavor enhancer or use them to bulk up a dish. But some mushrooms offer much more than that. Researchers have found that reishi and cordyceps mushrooms contain chemicals that offer a host of immune benefits, including boosting the immune system and offering lung support. And, guys, it may help with prostate health as well!
This essential trace mineral supports the body’s immunity and aids with nerve function. Zinc seems to work the best when taken at the first sign of concern.
9. OLIVE LEAF
Hold the pimientos. We’re talking about olive leaf here, not cocktail garnishes or pizza toppings. The leaves of this Mediterranean staple offer a powerhouse of protection against unwanted invaders. Olive leaf contains a bitter compound called oleuropein that also provides fabulous support to the circulatory system. And it battles free radical damage.
4 TIPS TO KEEP IMMUNE SYSTEM STRONG:
- Minimize stress.
- Stay active.
- Eat a healthful diet. Steer clear of sugary and high-fat foods, which can slow and/or weaken immune response.
- Socialize. People with friends have stronger immune systems than those who feel alone. Of course, try not to socialize with people who are sick 😉