Natural Remedies To Support Your Immune System
There has been an overwhelming amount of news, worry, and fear the last couple of weeks and it seems to only be getting more intense, but I like to flip the script and remember the positives through these stressful times. The unknown we are experiencing is a perfect time for us to reset, reconnect, and remember what is truly important in life. If it is available to you, take this time as an opportunity to heal. Take these next few weeks to reconnect with your family, self-soothe through meditation, reflection, and other self-care practices, and be comforted in the fact that this is a reminder to be more kind to our environment and to appreciate the simplicity in our routine.
As always, your health is a top priority and should be treated as such. But, now more than ever we want to take those extra precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones from potential illness. Especially right now, our immune systems can use a little extra support. Your immune system is your body’s natural defense against disease and there is thankfully a lot of research on how to support it.
So, let’s discuss a few ways to do that. These immunity tips are meant to be incorporated into your daily life to prevent sickness, and though my recommendations are not COVID-19 specific due to its novel status, they have been shown to boost the overall immune system, which helps your body fight off all types of viruses and infections.
Supporting Your Immune System
Food is the best medicine - With every single bite, you are turning on and off genes that will either support your immune system or make you sick. Eating a diet full of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. Eating an array of fruits, in all the colors of the rainbow, allows you to absorb many different phytonutrients and nutrients, which all support the body in different ways. Specifically, add garlic, ginger, and onions (raw is ideal) to your meals as together they offer potent antimicrobial, GI, and immunity-boosting benefits and help create whole-body homeostasis. And lastly, as much as we want to reach for pre-made meals and sugary and salty treats during times of stress, I urge you to try to avoid processed foods, sugar, and dairy, because these foods can cause inflammation, which can strain your immune system. Check out my free eBook of 25 Immune-Boosting Food.
Drink plenty of fluids - I can’t stress enough how important it is to drink enough clean purified water daily. Our bodies are made of about 60% water and all of our systems depend upon water to operate properly. I recommend keeping a bottle of water with you at all times and to strive to drink at least 80 ounces of water and up-to your body weight in ounces every day. Taking in that much fluid may seem intimidating but keep in mind we can get our water intake in different ways. Warm fluids are a great way to hydrate and provide a healing effect on the body. Try making your soups and broths loaded with veggies, spices, and herbs. When you’re looking for a warming beverage turn to herbal teas like ginger, peppermint, echinacea, and chamomile which will hydrate your body and are also calming. My nightly ritual always includes a cup (or three!) of herbal tea and is a great natural sleep aid as well.
Get your beauty zzz’s! - Sufficient sleep (seven to eight hours) is not just important to energize your body and mind for the next day, but it is absolutely necessary to support all of your body’s functions, including your immune system. Studies have shown that people who do not get enough sleep tend to have weaker immune functions. While you sleep, your muscles repair themselves, your brain regenerates, and your body creates proteins that fight infection and inflammation. Additional research also shows that a consistent sleep schedule allows for more optimal sleep and full-body benefits. To get restful sleep, try to turn off your phone at least an hour before bedtime and do something calming - drink some herbal tea, practice restorative yoga, take a bath or meditate before lying down to sleep.
Exercise - There is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise. From high-intensity training to running to more low-impact movements like yoga, the important thing is that you simply move your body, ideally every day. Exercise has been shown to boost the immune system and also to reduce stress and anxiety. One caveat is that research suggests that overworking your body can lower your immune defense, so try not to overexert, especially if your goal is boosting your immune system. Exercise should not be painful, stressful or viewed as a form of punishment. My best advice is to mix it up, have fun with it, do things that make you feel good, and to not stress about the types of exercise you “think” you should be doing. And as always, listen to your body!
Ease stress and anxiety – Especially at this time, this may feel like it’s easier said than done, but managing your stress level is vital to a healthy immune system. Anxiety and stress have been shown to decrease the strength of your immunity. Try to incorporate a practice into your daily routine that helps you calm your nervous system. Yoga, meditation, and reiki are great tools, so are walks outside and laughter. Talking it out with a friend and finding solidarity with your community can help ease feelings of helplessness and worry. We are all facing life’s battles together!
Here are several natural remedies to add to your immune-boosting routine to help ease your aches and pains when hit with a cold. Please note that these are general recommendations, and are not necessarily recommended for COVID-19.
Manuka honey – Manuka honey has so many amazing benefits that I even wrote an entire blog post about it! Manuka honey has antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties that help boost the immune system. There is also an active ingredient in Manuka honey called methylglyoxal (MGO) that reduces nasal mucus, so it is a perfect treat if you have a stuffy nose or are suffering from allergies or a respiratory infection. Add some of this special honey to your favorite herbal tea!
Saline flush - Flushing your sinuses with salt water helps to keep mucous membranes moist and can protect you by moving microbes along. A warm saline solution provides both antibacterial and healing properties and soothes while clearing your nasal passages. Products such as a Neti Pot, Nasal Flow bottle, or simple nasal saline spray are great to start when you feel a cold coming on.
Immune support supplements - Taking a supplement can be a convenient way to support your immune system, but there are so many out there it can be challenging to know which to use. First, it’s important to check labels, research brands for quality, and ensure no additives or fillers are used. I also suggest taking supplements in liquid form (liquid gels work if liquid is not available) and go for organic formulas for herbal supplements. When it comes to ingredients, these are my top choices for immune health: Zinc, Vitamin D, Glutathione, Vitamin C, Echinacea / Golden Seal, Elderberry, Mullein Leaf, Arabinogalactan, L-Lysine, Astragalus, Oil of Oregano (use in moderation), and Colloidal Silver (use in moderation).
Also, as you may know, I created my own supplement to help my clients boost their health and energize. Just Add Water is full of superfoods, adaptogenic herbs, power greens, essential daily vitamins, minerals, probiotics, prebiotics, dietary enzymes, and amino acids to support your health today and always.
Eucalyptus oil steam shower - If you know me, you know I am a big believer in the power of essential oils and aromatherapy. If you missed it, go take a look at my post where I talk all about the benefits of aromatherapy. Eucalyptus is one of my favorite essential oils when I’m not feeling my best. Put 3-5 drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl and add boiling water, cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl inhaling and exhaling deeply for 3-10 minutes. The combination of steam and oil will help you breathe better. Be careful not to burn your face with steam that is too hot.
Vitamin C - It’s not new news that vitamin C supports the immune system. Though research has shown that vitamin C might not protect you from getting a cold, it just might help reduce the duration and severity. I like to recommend getting your extra vitamin C from fruits and veggies when you can. Foods like oranges, dark leafy greens, strawberries, broccoli, guavas, papaya, and sweet potatoes are all good sources of vitamin C. But, during cold and flu season, a supplement with vitamin C can give you that extra boost.
Take care of yourself now and always -- don’t wait until you’re sick to start carving out time for your spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. Wishing you nothing but health and happiness!
XO - Serena