Your Immune System
Your immune system works to root out germs and other invaders that have no business in your body.
For example, if you inhale a cold virus through your nose, your immune system targets that virus and either stop it in its tracks or primes you to recover. It takes time to get over an infection, and sometimes you need medicine to help, but the immune system is the cornerstone of prevention and recovery.
There are organs that are put in place to maintain your immune system. Stress can compromise the effectiveness of these organs, it is therefore essential you find ways to elevate stress.
The immune system is your body’s natural defense system. It’s an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that band together to defend your body against invaders. Those invaders can include bacteria, viruses, parasites, even a fungus, all with the potential to make us sick. They are everywhere – in our homes, offices, and backyards.
A healthy immune system protects us by first creating a barrier that stops those invaders, or antigens, from entering the body. And if one slips by the barrier, the immune system produces white blood cells and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy these foreign substances. They try to find the antigen and get rid of it before it can reproduce. Failing that, the immune system revs up, even more, to destroy the invaders as they multiply.
Herbs and Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System.
Vegetables Our first category is vegetables. Where else would we start? Vegetables harness so much amazing power to impact and better our health. We have 4 of our favorites for immune-boosting benefits, but before we dive in, let’s talk about the importance of organic. Certified organic produce is the best choice you can make for your health. It helps ensure you are getting the minerals and nutrients you need from organic soil, whereas conventional produce is grown on mineral-depleted and nutrient-starved soils.
Certified organic produce also is grown and farmed without the use of chemicals or pesticides. In fact, by choosing the Dirty Dozen (the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables) organic, you can reduce your pesticide intake by up to 80%. Vegetables have so much to offer, especially when it comes to immune benefits, but make sure you’re making the most of your veggies by choosing organic!
Types of Vegetables
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that comes in many colors and is low in calories, but mighty high in nutrients, including vitamin C—of which it has about 37mg per 100g of cabbage. And vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to immunity! While raw it is very healthy for you, cabbage is even better for your immune system and digestive tract when it’s fermented in the form of sauerkraut or kimchi. Fermented foods heal your gut lining and digestion, and your gut houses 70% of your immune system cells, meaning fermented foods boost your immunity, too.
You may have heard of using garlic to ward off vampires, but how about to ward off colds and flu? Garlic contains compounds that have been shown to improve white blood cells’ ability to fight off certain viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu. It’s great to eat, but it also comes in a supplement form, and studies have shown that daily supplementation with garlic can reduce colds by 63% when compared with placebo. Plus, another study showed that a high dose of garlic extract can the amount of cold or flu sick days by 61%. It’s a powerhouse for your immune system!
Another vegetable that is high in the immune-boosting vitamin C is bell peppers. Red bell peppers have the most vitamin C of all varieties, and all bell peppers also have lots of phytochemicals and carotenoids, like beta-carotene, which is chock full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Plus, peppers can help clear out congested mucus membranes in the nose and lungs, helping you eliminate the toxins and disease-causing components of your cold or flu faster!
Like its friend’s cabbage and peppers, spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold and flu and bolster the immune system. That’s not all it has, though. It’s also high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, like peppers, which may help our immune system fight infection and viruses easier. An interesting fact about spinach is that its nutrients are best retained when the vegetable is raw, so try enjoying spinach in a delicious salad rather than in your stir fry for the most immune benefits.
Just like vegetables, fruits are more beneficial for our health and immune system when they are grown organically. Especially fruits like berries, which are frequently on the dirty dozen list, and yet so high in things like antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Choose your fruits organically to help avoid the downfalls of pesticides and chemicals, which add to your toxic load and can burden your immune system. And, just like vegetables, certain fruits have amazing immune-boosting benefits that you may not know about. Read on and enjoy these powerful items for maximum immunity!
Coconuts and Coconut Oil:
Coconut in all its forms is a superfood powerhouse. It’s loaded with healthy medium-chain fatty acids, is beneficial for our metabolism, can be used as a beauty product for healthier hair and skin, and now you can add “immune-boosting” to that list of benefits. Coconut oil has been shown to be antimicrobial, killing fungus and bacteria, and has proved beneficial for helping fight pneumonia.
One study showed that children who took coconut oil recovered from pneumonia much faster than those who did not, and also had reduced fevers, clearer breathing, and normal blood oxygenation. The next time you add coconut oil to your smoothie or cooked veggies, your immune system will thank you!
Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, are extremely high on the ORAC scale—meaning they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals. This is great for your immune system and general health. Blueberries in particular may help you fend off colds and flu, though, as they are high in pterostilbene.
Researchers from Oregon State University found that when this compound was combined with vitamin D, the body’s ability to fend off illness increased. The same was shown with the resveratrol found in red grapes. Yet another reason to enjoy those blueberries!
Citrus fruits, like grapefruit, oranges, and lemons, are low in sugar, which is known to be an immune-suppressant, and packed with vitamin C, which is essential for fending off infections like colds and flu by boosting the production of white blood cells. Your body does not produce vitamin C on its own, so be sure to stock up on vitamin C by enjoying the fruits and vegetables—like citrus fruits—which are rich in this immune-boosting vitamin!
Along with being high in vitamin C, apples are also a rich source of soluble fiber. A study in 2010 done at the University of Illinois showed that soluble fiber helps to strengthen the immune system by changing the “personalities” of immune cells. Instead of being pro-inflammatory, the cells turn to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help the body recover from infection and illness faster. I guess the saying is right—an apple a day may really keep the doctor away!
Herbs are a passion of Janet Jacks’. She understands how much power they have to harness our health and improve it when things are going awry. She often turns to herbs in the form of spices and teas to help her deal with different health issues and encourages others to do the same.
Herbs are especially vital when it comes to our immune system—and they’re so readily available to us! Using them in our cooking in dried or fresh forms, or finding them in oils and tinctures, you can’t go wrong when you decide to include more herbs in your everyday life. Read on for our top 4 immune-boosting herbs and start using them in your kitchen.
Herbs are powerful when it comes to our health, and oregano is a great one for immune benefits. It’s high in vitamins A, C, E, and K, all of which are good for your immune system, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal effects. In fact, studies have shown that essential oils from oregano may help to fight off Listeria and the superbug MRSA. Imagine what it might do for your everyday immune health!
You’ve probably heard of turmeric as a superfood herb, with its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But did you know the active ingredient that helps with these things in turmeric is actually curcumin? This is an anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory compound that is excellent to help fend off everyday colds and flu as well as more serious conditions like cancer. Plus, since inflammation is at the root of so many diseases, being anti-inflammatory is an extra bonus.
Ginger is historically one of the most common substances used to help with colds and flu. It’s a powerful agent in helping ward off and dispels nausea due to its ability to help break up and dispel intestinal gas or other disruptions. It’s a great remedy to have when you have the flu, as in lemon and ginger tea or in a chew as the Ginger People chews. Plus, because it’s good for nausea, it’s also been shown to be effective for motion sickness, seasickness, and sickness associated with pregnancy.
Licorice is good for so many ailments, and one amazing power it has is to boost the adrenals and support the stress response. Your adrenal system is intricately linked with your immune system. When you’re too stressed and your adrenals are worn down, your immune system is more vulnerable to attack. Helping support your adrenals and stress response is a great way to support your immune system! Plus, licorice has been shown to enhance immunity more directly by boosting immune system chemicals that help ward off viruses.
There are several ways to maintain and strengthen your immune system besides those being listed above. Water, sunshine, and exercise are just a few.
There are other ways to have a strong immune system.
Always consult your doctor before taking any herbal remedies or altering your diet.
Thank you for reading.
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