Cold and flu season is upon us—but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Check out these tips on how to boost your immune system and resilience.
An important part of preventing and treating illness is being good to your body.
There are several steps you can take that will strengthen your immune system and not only decrease the chances that you’ll get sick in the first place, but help to reduce the intensity and shorten the duration of any cold or flu you do get.
Instead of just suppressing symptoms, these tips will actually improve the function of your immune system as well as attack the bacteria and/or viruses themselves.
Continue reading and learn how to boost your immune system naturally this cold and flu season.
How To Boost Your Immune System
#1: Eat A Nutrient-Rich Diet
The nutrients you get from food are essential to keeping your immune system functioning properly. Focus on plenty of vegetables, fruit, high-quality protein and healthy fats–and avoid alcohol, processed foods, sugar + any foods you have a sensitivity to. Also, maintain adequate hydration since water helps your body produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells.
Here are foods that emphasize nutrients essential to optimal immune system function:
Zinc – seafood, pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables, legumes (be sure to soak, sprout and/or cook)
Vitamin D – salmon, fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese (if tolerable), mushrooms
Omega-3s – to support anti-inflammatory status (if you’re consuming less than 1lb of oily fish weekly, I recommend supplementing with a high-quality fish oil)
Vitamin C – oranges, papayas, strawberries, kiwi, organic leafy green vegetables (spinach, bok choy, kale), broccoli, bell peppers
Vitamin A – liver, cod liver oil, mackerel, salmon; beta-carotene: sweet potato, winter squash, kale, collards, carrots
Fresh garlic – crush garlic and wait up to 60 seconds before cooking or consuming to enhance formation of allicin
Protein – the amino acids in protein help build and maintain immune cells, and skimping on this macronutrient may lower your body’s ability to fight infections. Try to consume most of your protein through whole food, animal-based sources. If you need help increasing your protein intake, a high-quality protein powder can be used.
#2: Wash Your Hands
Studies have shown that frequent hand-washing is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves during cold & flu season. Wash your hands every time you arrive at a destination while out and about, and first thing when you get home.
No sink? Opt for a alcohol-based hand sanitizer, rather than an antibacterial one. Why? Well, those antibacterial ones contain chemicals that disrupt your hormones and can make dangerous mutant super-germs!
#3: Move Your Body
Walking, lifting weights, stretching, and yoga are all examples of movement that can support your health. Movement helps the lymphatic system circulate, which is where your immune cells travel.
Exercise also increases the release of endorphins (a group of hormones that reduce pain and create feelings of pleasure) making it a great way to manage stress. Since stress negatively impacts our immune system, this is another way exercise can improve immune response.
Give yourself just 20 minutes each day to keep your immune system in shape. If you feel you’re coming down with something or your energy is very low, take it easy. Remember to avoid excess exercise during times of immune challenge.
#4: Get Plenty Of Sleep & Relaxation
Sleep and immunity are closely tied. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more prone to getting sick after exposure to viruses, such as those that cause the common cold. Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. 7-9 hours of quality sleep is best. Keep in mind, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, get a jump on it now and start something like Magnesium Glycinate or NeuroMag (to help with racing thoughts) to help support your body in falling and staying asleep. If you need extra support, try a natural sleep aid. I also recommend limiting screen time an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Other sleep hygiene tips include sleeping in a completely dark room, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising regularly.
Lastly, if you’re feeling stressed, make space for relaxation in your day. It’s much harder for your immune system to do its job when you’re stressed. Try stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, breath work & biofeedback to help you relax.
#5: Supplement Wisely
Before diving in, it’s important to remember that supplements should be supplemental to a healthy diet. Vitamins and supplements should not be used as a replacement for a healthy diet, BUT they can be used to help fill the gaps in your diet. There are several nutrients that are essential for immune health. Many people don’t get enough of these nutrients through their diets. But even if you are getting enough, taking additional amounts of them when people around you are sick, or if you’re already sick, can be very helpful.
Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all.
Dose & Duration: Take 1 tsp once a day (1-2 g) on an empty stomach for prevention, and 1 tsp twice a day (2-4 g) for treatment.
Recommendation: Liposomal Vitamin C or C+BioFizz. (Note: Liposomal forms are best absorbed).
Vitamin D + K
Vitamin D is critical for immune function. A deficiency in this nutrient may compromise immune response and increase your risk of infection and disease.
Dose & Duration: Take 0.5-1 mL (1000-2000 IU) per day to support immune function, especially if you’re not getting regular sun exposure.
Recommendation: Emulsi-D3 Synergy.
80% of your immune system is found in your gut, which is why supporting your gut with healthy bacteria is crucial.
Dose & Duration: Take 1 capsule per day with a meal for maintenance of a healthy gut and immune function. Increase to 2 capsules daily if you’re coming down with a cold or flu—and continue taking this dose if you do get sick.
Recommendation: ProbioMed 50.
Zinc helps your immune system by aiding in the production of immune cells, like T-cells and white blood cells, that help your body fight off invaders.
Dose & Duration: Take 1 capsule (30 mg) per day if you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or flu—and continue taking it if you do get sick.
Recommendation: Zinc Supreme.
Allicin (the active compound found in garlic) helps to support the immune system by preventing the overgrowth of unfriendly organisms. Traditionally used in herbal medicine to help relieve the symptoms associated with upper respiratory tract infections. You can consume whole garlic using the method I mentioned above or take a garlic supplement.
Dose & Duration: Take 1 softgel twice daily if you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or flu—and continue taking it if you do get sick.
Elderberry is a medicinal plant with a long tradition of use as an herbal antiviral. It’s one of the most effective botanicals for strengthening immune function and preventing colds and flus.
Dose & Duration: Take 1 tsp twice daily if you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or flu—and continue taking it if you do get sick.
Recommendation: Suro Organic Elderberry Syrup.
All supplements linked to above have been GMP certified and put through rigorous product testing (by a third party). This means that all supplements have the identity, strength, composition, quality and purity that appear on the label.
This content on how to boost your immune system is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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