The nonstop runny nose. The pounding headache. The noisy coughs you just can’t stifle. Could you be coming down with something?
No one looks forward to being sick, but most of us expect to fall prey to a cold or flu at least once per year. It’s time to step up your prevention plan. Support your hardworking immune system with some key immunity boosters. It’s one of the best things you can do to keep your energy levels high and sidestep getting sick.
Revitalize with vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can be taken on an ongoing basis to stimulate components of the immune system. To help prevent colds, some health care practitioners suggest taking at least 1 g of vitamin C per day. As for food sources, colorful fruits and veggies contain the most vitamin C. Stock your kitchen with berries, sweet potatoes, peppers, oranges, and papayas.
Bone up with vitamin D
Vitamin D has a key role in immune system cells, and a deficiency may worsen existing autoimmune conditions. Supplementing with vitamin D has beneficial effects on more than just bone health. Studies have shown that vitamin D can strengthen our immunity to infections due to receptors on cells of the immune system. You can absorb vitamin D from 15 minutes of skin exposure to the sun. During the dark days of fall and winter, you can bolster your levels by supplementing daily with 1,000 IU of vitamin D.
Studies on the benefits of echinacea generally agree that you should take it at the onset of a cold to reduce the length and severity of symptoms. Echinacea extracts also appear to have a beneficial effect on a subset of white blood cells that help our bodies fight illness and infection. However, note that echinacea should not be taken if you have an allergy to ragweed or any plant in the daisy family, or if you’re taking heart or antifungal medications.
Grab some ginseng
Ginseng root is a widely studied immune system booster. Affecting nearly every part of the immune system, it can help your body fight off infections. There are different forms of ginseng, and most studies show a benefit with Panax ginseng especially. Interactions may occur with certain medications, so always discuss your medications and herbs with your health care practitioner.
Recover with zinc
Zinc is an essential trace element that affects nearly all body processes, including the nervous system and the immune system. It’s also a required cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Dietary sources of zinc include whole grains, beans, and nuts. If you’ve already come down with a cold, zinc lozenges can help combat a sore throat.
Get your garlic
Food choices during cold and flu season make a big difference to your overall immune health. Fresh garlic can have an effect against bacteria and viruses, and early research suggests that garlic supplements might also be a potent tool for preventing colds. And don’t be afraid to add a few cloves to your soups or stews. One study has shown that upper respiratory tract infections may be alleviated with a bowl of hot homemade soup.
Sip on green tea
If you’re trying to step away from coffee but miss that familiar buzz of caffeine, green tea is a wonderful alternative that acts as an antioxidant and strengthens your immune system. One of the powerful components in green tea may also act as a mechanism in the suppression of autoimmune diseases. Be sure to try it in powdered form, also known as matcha, for a creamier and stronger taste.
Quercetin a powerful antioxidant found in citrus fruits, with early research showing it may stop the rhinovirus, the most common cause of respiratory infections and common colds, in its tracks by preventing it from replicating and spreading.