The night time air is turning crisp and cool, the daytime weather is not as hot, and school is starting. Fall is in the air! I love fall and everything it brings; the last harvest, cooler weather, a time to harvest roots, rose hips, seeds and to plan for all the fun things you can make in the winter months while the plants are lying dormant.
The other thing fall brings along with the increased time spent in-doors is cold and flu season. Kids are in school being exposed to who knows what cold and flu viruses. When the kids bring home the germs, the whole family tends to get sick.
These are some ways to boost the immune system naturally and fight off those nasty fall bugs.
Diet and Nutrition
A diet high in whole foods, pastured meat, sprouted grains (if any), and organic fruit and vegetables play a big role in immune support. Diets high in refined, processed, manufactured and nutritionally void food play a key role in sickness and disease. Eat whole organic foods for optimal health.
The nutrients we have (or do not have) in our body play a key role in immunity as well as other major systems in the body. One of the most nutrient dense, immune boosting, and healing foods out there is bone broth. Bone broth is able to provide our bodies with easily absorbable nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other trace minerals as well as gelatin, glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen. Our grandma’s were right when they gave us homemade chicken soup to fight a cold. Broth in the form of chicken soup has been proven to decrease symptoms of cold and flu quicker than those who were not given soup. Learn more about bone broth from the Weston A. Price Foundation and here.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries along with bone broth to boost the immune system. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms have been proven to have the highest immune system effect by helping the body by increasing macrophage activity which go out and destroy unwelcome cells, organisms, and viruses in the system. They trigger increased white blood cell production helping to protect the body against pathogens and cancers and activate other essential immune factors, including T-cells, B-cells, interferons and interleukins.
Fermented foods like yogurt, keifer, kombucha, fermented vegetables; fruit, cod liver oil and meat all introduce good bacteria to your system helping you maintain optimal gut health. Your skin and your gut are the your first lines of defense to the outside world. Maintaining optimal health and “good” bacteria in your gut will boost your immune system and serve as a line of defense against the “bad” bugs.
It has been shown that light to moderate exercise 4-5 days a week gives a big boost to the immune system. High intensity exercise over prolonged periods of time (like training for a marathon) have been shown to hamper the immune system since the body is busy rebuilding the muscles and ligaments that were strained, it does not have the extra power to fight off disease.
Herbs that boost the immune system
Ginseng has been shown to help prevent upper respiratory infections after several months of consistent use. Although it does boost immunity, you should discontinue use if you do get sick.
Echinacea is the herb you take at the FIRST SIGN of illness. Taken in a large enough dose it will kick your immune system into over drive killing that infection just starting to take hold. Do not take it as a preventative, but at the first sign of illness.
Elderberry offers significant protection against viruses disarming them and making them unable to enter our cells.
Green tea contains potent antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and neutralize free radicals. It also stimulates the liver to secrete interferon which is an immune compound that helps fight infection.
Fresh Garlic is a wonderful immune system supporter, and is anti bacterial and anti viral. It contains the compounds alliin and alinase which are activated when the garlic is cut or crushed and is less effective when cooked so add garlic to your food right before you are about to eat it. You can also eat garlic cloves whole, but that is a bit hard on the stomach. Always take garlic with food and use caution when taking blood thinners.
Astralagus improves the immune system in many ways. It triggers the production of immune cells in the bone marrow and lymphatic system, increases activity of immune cells, and enhances the abilities of immune substances like immunoglobulin.
On Guard Essential Oil
We apply On Guard Essential Oil Blend by doTERRA daily, diluted at a 5% concentration on the bottom of our feet to prevent illness and disease. It is safe to use on children. It boosts the immune system and is also a very potent anti-viral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. I love the invigorating holiday scent and how very effective it is. When I apply it to my daughter’s feet nightly she does not catch a cold. When we have run out of the blend and not applied it to her feet nightly she tends to catch whatever she is around.
Apply to surfaces to kill germs and pathogens. Diffuse in rooms to provide immune support and to rid the area of bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungi.
Apply topically with massage to feet, back, neck and shoulders to offer immune support.
Apply diluted at a 5-10% dilution with lymphatic massage at the onset of or during illness. The oils included in this type of blend are GRAS and can be used internally.
At the onset of sore throat or to fight laryngitis, place 2-3 drops in ¼ cup of water, gargle, swish and pull for 5 minutes, then spit.
Be sure you get your herbs from a trusted source. I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs (an affiliate) and can not tell you how happy I am with the quality of their herbs.
*This is not intended as medical advice but for informational purposes only. Seek medical attention when appropriate.*
How do you naturally boost your immune system? What things to you do to keep the family healthy through cold and flu season?
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