Boosting Your Immune System.

Are you like me and love summer, always dreading the coming of its end?

But then, at the same time, you are looking forward to the cool, crisp, fragrant days of autumn? How it stimulates the senses to inhale the pleasant aromas that imbue the air and to look at the vibrant colors as the leaves change, then drop in crispy piles to the ground.

What an amazing season.

With fall and the change in weather also comes colds, runny noses, fevers, and flu.

Every year we know it is going to happen and when it does we look for ways to help us get over the cold faster or to get rid of the flu symptoms without lost days, but why don't we do all we can to prevent them in the first place?

There are actually many things you can do for boosting your immune system by revving up your metabolism and the metabolisms of your families. Some of them we do anyway, so let's just make a quick check list and be sure we do all we can this year.

  1. Wash your hands. First, I guess we should at least mention the obvious. Wash your hands a lot - always! Use that anti-bacterial wipe that most stores provide to wipe off the handle of the shopping cart - you never know who was sneezing and wiping their nose with their hands before you got the cart.
  2. Sneeze into your elbow instead of using a tissue. It is much easier not to spread those germs around if you don't keep retouching them, or at least throw your tissue away each time.
  3. Watch what you breathe. Stay out of public places when you know there is sickness going around - especially doctor's offices if you can. And hopefully, keeping your immune system pumped up will make that happen.
  4. Breakfast. Next, and one of the most simple steps in boosting your immune system - Don't go without breakfast. And when we do have breakfast, let's do better than sugar cereal or a pastry.

    Eat an egg. The protein that we get in an egg white fills us up better - and it stabilizes our blood sugar and helps us feel fuller until time to eat again.

    The yolk from the egg is one of the few foods rich in Vitamin D which helps us maintain a healthy immune system.

    It also supports all kind of things in our bodies, from bones and teeth, blood pressure and cardiovascular, to kidneys and muscles. It even helps prevent cancer, including skin cancer - according to recent studies. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption. It also helps keep muscles strong.

  5. Rest. Make sure we give our bodies time to recuperate. Of course, we can't expect our bodies to work at their best if they are dragging from lack of sleep.
  6. Exercise. Do some resistance training such as jogging, jumping rope, or climbing stairs. Use elastic bands, weights, or our own body weight.

    Let's get rid of the fat and put on some muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat does and building muscle is one of the best ways to keep your metabolism burning.

    This is true for every age. And not only does it boost your immune system but studies have shown that exercise for small children helps with hyperactivity and ADD and ADHD.

    Research shows exercises like tai chi and yoga improve balance and help prevent falling for the elderly. It helps pregnant women have an easier pregnancy and delivery. It helps postmenopausal women and helps prevent bone loss.

    Remember: Whatever the problem, exercise is part of the solution.

  7. Vitamin C. Eat an orange or a mango, both of which are loaded with Vitamin C. Study after study shows the benefits of Vitamin C. It strengthens white blood cells which in turn help us fight off colds and flu. We need to eat all of the orange, including the white material just under the peel.

    As a side note: Vitamin C has also been shown to relax the arteries and helps prevent them from clogging. It enhances Vitamin E - which also protects the heart. The soluble fiber in oranges helps lower cholesterol, and the hesperidin (an antioxidant) helps promote speedy recovery from heart attacks.

    A simple yet delicious recipe I found in the Family Fun magazine is:

    Vitamin C Smoothie

    1 cup pineapple juice
    1/2 cup orange juice with pulp
    1 cup blueberries - fresh or frozen
    1 cup cubed mangos - fresh or frozen

    Blend. Drink and Enjoy. (If using all fresh ingredients you will want to add a few ice cubes to thicken it up.)

    Lemons and Limes are also packed with Vitamin C. Squeeze lemons into our herbal tea and other beverages, squeeze it on our salad.

    As a side note: These fruits obviously are not only good for boosting your immune system, but also fight heart disease, and form collagen that is necessary to help heal tendons, ligaments, bones, and blood vessels.

    Blueberries, along with every type of berry, are full of Vitamin C. They also lower blood sugar and are a rich source of flavonoids.

    Sprinkle blueberries or strawberries on your cereal and in your salads. Bake blueberries into muffins or just enjoy a bowl full of blueberries and sliced strawberries mixed in a dollop of yogurt.

  8. Drink lots of water. Water keeps everything flushed out and is one of the best ways of boosting the immune system.
  9. Add herbs to soups and stews. When you don't feel good your bodies needs to be able to work on feeling better, not digestion. Eating foods that are already warm allows your bodies to concentrate on boosting your immune system, rather than spending precious energy on digesting cold food. Not only that but soups and stews are comfort food.

    • Soups and Stews. It is so easy to add medicinal herbs into your soups as well. While stews are simmering on the stove include some astragalus (astragalus is a Chinese herb that helps to strengthen protective defenses, strengthen qi energy, nourish the spleen, and tonify the blood and lungs).
    • Mushrooms. Add Maitake, Reishii, Portabella or Shitake mushrooms (all mushrooms strengthen the immune system) to enhance your immune system along with burdock roots, carrots, and parsnips.
    • Garlic and Onions. Don't forget to use onions and garlic when boosting your immune system. Our page on Cold Remedies talks more about garlic.

    • Herbs. Cooking herbs and vegetables together for a long time extracts minerals, actives immune-strengthening phytochemicals, and increases the levels of available antioxidants.
    • Kitchen Herbs. Regular kitchen herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and sage — are loaded with antioxidants. Don't just season with them, use them for boosting your immune system.
    • Nourishing Herbal Infusions. Many herbs are full of Vitamin C as well as other things that nourish the entire body. They are also packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, phytoestrogens, and phytochemicals that will help in boosting your immune system and keeping you well.

      As you have probably heard me say, my favorite herbal infusion is a combination of:

      • Nettle - full of calcium, iron, folic acid, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin, choline, folic acid, zinc, carotene, and more.
      • Oatstraw - full of chromium, magnesium, silicon, calcium, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin A and more.
      • Peppermint - full of niacin, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, carotene and more. And it tastes delicious.

      So easy to make and so delicious both hot or cold. These herbs are good for the nervous system, for depression, for heart problems, they help lower cholesterol, give you strong bones and healthy hair, and will boost your overall well-being, etc.

      Combined in equal parts they make a very delicious tea.

  10. Include ginger in your diet. At the first sign of a cold make a big pot of ginger tea and sip it all day long. It will really help. We have instructions for making ginger tea on our page of cold remedies.

    Hot Apple Cider is another delicious drink is. To make this:

    • First, make a quart of oatstraw infusion.
    • Now, place three quarts of organic apple cider in a large pot. Add the oatstraw infusion.
    • Add 3-4 cinnamon sticks (strengthens the immune system)
      2 t. cloves (good for digestion)
    • 1 T. freshly grated ginger or 1/4 t. ground ginger (really boosts the immune system)
    • 8 slices of astragalus root (very nourishing for immune system)

    Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Fill your mug, add a cinnamon stick and enjoy being healthy and boosting your immune system.

Yesterday I woke up with brain fog and a sore throat. I do not have time to be sick. I incorporated ginger tea, elderberry syrup and slippery elm balls into my busy day. This morning I am back to 100%. I fully believe that we have the power to help our bodies stay healthy most of the time.

So good luck this delightful season. Enjoy it to it's fullest, and enjoy it in good health.