The first cases of flu are already making the rounds here in Dallas, Texas. So, it’s time to remind our family and friends of the natural ways to improve the immune system, your body’s first line of defense against nasty bugs and viruses.
While the hospital and ER room are a vital resource for health emergencies, the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes to mind. We can lower our chance of ending up in the doctor’s office or emergency room with a severe cold or the flu by keeping our immune systems strong.
Here are 7 foods and herbs that deserve to take a place in your “natural” medicine cabinet.
This is one of the most readily available immune system boosters. For centuries, garlic has been used as a natural medicine. Garlic has sulfur compounds that act as antibacterial and antiviral agents.
Garlic, when taken as a tea sweetened with honey, is an excellent treatment for respiratory infections, colds, cough, and influenza. You can sweeten “garlic tea” with real honey, which also acts a throat soother. To try this recipe, simply add one crushed glove of garlic to a cup of hot water. Squeeze in the juice of half a fresh lemon and a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered honey and your home remedy for coughs and cold is ready to drink.
If having “garlicky” breath isn’t appealing, there are also natural garlic supplements. Kyolic brand products are one of our favorites because they are “de-odorized”.
Echinacea is a natural flowering herb that has been used in natural medicine for centuries. Chinese herbalists often recommend this herb for its immune-boosting properties. At the first signs of a cold or flu, try drinking echinacea tea.
Many herb teas will include additional immune-system boosting herbs and spices, such as licorice, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. For best results you should continue to take echinacea tea for a few days after your recovery.
Echinacea is also available in a tincture form and in a variety of immune support supplements. Tinctures can be taken in water. Don’t be surprised if you feel a slightly unusual sensation after swallowing. This is echinacea’s trademark “tingle’.
Early sailors would spend months at sea without any fresh fruit. These sailors often suffered from scurvy, a very serious nutritional deficiency caused by a lack of vitamin C. The condition left them with bleeding gums and a shortage of energy. Fortunately, most of us don’t face anything this severe, however, since our bodies are unable to produce vitamin C on their own, it’s critical we get an adequate supply through food or supplements. Surprisingly, you don’t need to rely on citrus fruit to supply your daily serving of Vitamin C. Green and red bell peppers, broccoli and kale all contain more vitamin C per serving than an orange! By ensuring an abundant intake of vitamin C, you’re supplying your body with strong antioxidants that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses.
Yogurt and Probiotics
The bacteria located in our gut is absolutely essential for effective and healthy digestion. The good gut flora breaks down the food for assimilation into our system.
Unfortunately, even a single dose of a powerful antibiotic can kill all the bacteria in our gut, both good and bad. To ensure proper and healthy digestion, it’s important to add good probiotics to your diet.
Probiotics or live active cultures, can dramatically increase white blood cells, which are part of the immune system’s “attack team”. The white blood cells search and destroy bad bacteria and viruses.
You can get probiotics by eating a daily serving of yogurt or kefir. If you’re choosing yogurt from a grocery store, avoid those with a high amount of sugar. One of the best ways to receive a therapeutic dose of probiotics is to buy a high-quality supplement.
The benefits of green tea in protecting our bodies and boosting the immune system are well documented. Green tea contains an important contains theanine, an important amino acid helpful in fighting illness. Teas are also a good source of antioxidants, which are another critical component of our immune systems. One added benefit of L-theanine is its ability to calm frazzled nerves.
Protein contains zinc, which the body uses to fight off infections. Zinc is also necessary for that critical immune system agent — white blood cells.
Pharmacies and drug stores will often have an entire row reserved solely for this important mineral supplement. Even a mild zinc deficiency reduces our immune protection.
High quality protein mixes added to milk or milk substitutes can add a substantial boost to your diet. Better yet, add the protein blend to a smoothie made with fruits and vegetables. For vegetarians, look for protein powders derived from peas.
Our bodies require healthy fats to function optimally. Without getting into too many technical details, health-conscious consumers should focus on heart healthy oils, such as olive oil and coconut oil. These two oils provide excellent sources of omega 3 fats. Avoid the “cooked” oils such as canola, safflower, vegetable, etc. These oils interfere with cell metabolism of sugar compounds, which can increase your odds of contracting diabetes. Many of these oils have also been produced from genetically modified foods.
Also check out the fatty fish sources of omega-3’s, such as sardines and herring. To boost your heart health, consider supplementing your diet with a professional grade fish oil.
As you experiment with adding these natural immune-boosting foods to your diet, remember to avoid foods that may slow down your efforts. Drinking too much alcohol, as well as a diet high-sugar diet can be very detrimental to your overall health.
Keep your immune system healthy and happy, and your body will sail through the year without a sneeze or a sniffle!
Garland chiropractor, Dr. Mixon and the staff of Texas Spine & Wellness take a holistic approach to health. In addition to the treatment of neck and back, and joint pain issues, we also offer bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and nutritional programs. We stock a wide range of professional grade supplements at the clinic. If you would like more information about our chiropractic care or if we can help you with your nutritional needs, please give us a call at 972-840-2520.
Our Garland chiropractic office is centrally located and is easily accessible by Dallas, Richardson, Mesquite, Rowlett and Rockwall residents.