Since the immune system is our first line of defense against most types of illnesses, a strong immune system is especially critical during winter when colds and flu begin to make the rounds. In the case of these troublesome viruses, the old saying holds true; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Fortunately many common foods and herbs can help us avoid unexpected trips to the doctor or emergency room. Here a few immune boosting foods and herbs that are easy to incorporate into your everyday meal plans
Garlic is an incredibly potent immune system booster. It has been used for centuries around the globe as a natural medicine. Garlic has sulfur compounds that act as antibacterial and antiviral agents. Garlic, when steeped in warm water with lemon juice and honey, serves as both an excellent preventive for respiratory infections, colds, cough, and influenza and as a treatment that that can help speed up recovery. When the garlic tea is sweetened with raw honey, the tea also acts a natural throat soother. If having “garlicky” breath isn’t appealing, you can also buy “deodorized” garlic supplements such as those offered under the Kyolic label.
Two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, may have been the world’s most vigorous Vitamin C proponent. Whether you agree or disagree with this chemist’s opinion, one thing is certain, he succeeded in highlighting this important vitamin’s role in fighting off colds and virus infections.
Centuries ago, sailors recognized they could prevent scurvy, the common seafarer’s disease, by carrying a stash of limes aboard their ships. By ingesting this simple citrus fruit, the sailers could ward off the bleeding gums that accompany this serious Vitamin C deficiency. “Limeys” a nickname for a British citizen, arose from this practice.
Eat a single orange, tangerine or grapefruit to get 100% of your daily RDA.
Beside tasting yummy, yogurt is an excellent source of beneficial bacteria. Our intestinal tracts rely on this type of bacteria for effective and healthy digestion. Live active cultures can dramatically increase our white blood cells, which are part of the immune system “attack team”. The white blood cells search and destroy bad bacteria and viruses. Many researchers believe beneficial bacteria can effectively treat conditions from eczema to inflammatory bowel disease.
Antibiotics can pose a threat to this good bacteria, since even one dose of antibiotics can kill all the bacteria in our gut, (both good and bad). So if you’ve recently had to take an antibiotic, consider supplementing your diet with yogurt to reintroduce good bacteria to your system.
Getting the best yogurt, one that Contains only live and active cultures and milk, may require a trip to your local health food store. Many grocery store brands are heat treated which negates much of yogurt’s natural benefits.
To get the most effect from the bacterial contained within yogurt, you may need to eat several servings a day. If that much yogurt than you can handle, consider adding a probiotic capsule to your daily routine. We stock several excellent probiotics at our Garland chiropractic office.
Green and Black Teas
Both green and black teas offer many well documented immune enhancing benefits. Green and black teas boast an important amino acid, theanine, which is used in fighting illness. Teas are also a good source of antioxidants, which are another critical component of our immune systems.
Protein contains zinc, which the body uses to fight off infections. Even a mild zinc deficiency can lower our ability to fight infections. For people who wish to avoid animal protein, try drinking whey or soy based protein shakes. (Always look for Non-GMO sources.)
To function optimally, our bodies require healthy fats. For centuries, Virgin olive oil has been used around the world for its health benefits. Health-conscious consumers should mainly use healthy oils that contain omega-3s. Both olive oil and coconut oil are excellent sources of omega-3 fats. Whenever possible avoid the “cooked” oils such as canola, safflower, vegetable, etc. These oils interfere with cell metabolism of sugar compounds, which can contribute to diabetes.
Although not a food, this natural herb has been used centuries to stimulate the immune system At the first signs of a cold or flu, try taking a a dose of echinacea. Many stores carry the herb in both tablet and tincture form. Naturopathic doctors and nutritionists often recommend starting the herb at the first sign of an illness. You are advised to continue taking the recommended daily dosage for another couple of days once symptoms subside.
Note: Don’t take the echinacea for more than about 2 weeks at a time or use continuously as a preventive, as it can overstimulated the immune system.
Enjoy the winter months in good health
As you add these natural immune-boosting foods and herbs to your diet, try to cut down on other choices that can lower your immune system, like processed foods high in sugar and fat. Keep your immune system healthy and happy and your body will sail through the winter months without a sniffle!
At Texas Spine & Wellness, we offer a wide range of supplements that can help strengthen your immune system and help you feel your best. In addition, we offer personalized nutrition testing and customized clinical nutrition. Our programs have helped hundreds of local residents improve their health and vitality.
If you’d like to learn more about our Wellness programs, please give us a call. Our Garland chiropractors will be happy to talk with you about your concerns and explain how we can help.