Lifeline Connections

Ways to Strengthen your Immune System

It’s October, meaning we are headed full speed into the dreaded flu and cold season. I find that taking some simple preventative measures really helps keep my immune system strong. A strong immune system allows your body to fight off viruses more effectively and is the best ally we have for staying in good health. Let’s be real: nobody enjoys being sick, especially when there are so many obligations and festivities to partake in throughout the winter season. Below I have listed four ways you can protect yourself these coming months:

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, the powerful antioxidant most commonly found in fresh fruits and vegetables, has been shown to stimulate our immune system, meaning it may aid in the treatment and prevention of many diseases and viruses. As most of us know, the SAD (Standard American Diet) includes very little of the primary sources of vitamin C, so it isn’t surprising that vitamin C depletion and deficiency are prevalent in America (this is exacerbated in cigarette smokers). You can either buy vitamin C in supplement form or get it from your food. Citrus fruits like, oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruits are the most well known sources. Vegetables like green peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens and cabbage (just to name a few) are also good sources of vitamin C – and less sugary than the fruit options. Just make sure to eat these raw, since the vitamin C content is generally lost with cooking.

2. Garlic

This popular herb food not only makes a great addition to most dishes, it also has antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and antifungal properties. It has been shown to alleviate earaches, influenza, sinusitis and act as a fever reducer. Studies on garlic have even demonstrated its effects to be comparable to prescription antibiotics – it’s really that effective. Incorporating more garlic into your diet can be an easy and highly beneficial way to bolster your immune system.

3. Echinacea (Ehk-in-ay-sha)

Echinacea is another wonderful immunity-supporting herb that is antiviral, antibacterial, and even increases cell production and cell activity as well. This incredible herb is very helpful when it comes to the prevention of colds. There have been several studies showing that Echinacea makes the common cold duration shorter and less grave. It has even been shown to stop a cold that has already begun. There are two main ways that herbs work in supporting the immune system: (1) they can have a direct effect on bacteria and viruses; and (2) they upregulate the function of our body’s own immune cells and organs.

Echinacea comes in either tincture or pill form. I prefer taking it in tincture form because I can easily add it to my teas or smoothies.

4. Monitor Your Sugar Consumption!

Sugar is a major culprit in the weakening of your immune system, and I’m talking about all forms of sugar (yes, this includes alcohol). From Halloween all the way through Christmas to New Years, and in between, we have copious amounts of sugar-laden foods and drinks being put in front of us. Try the best you can to limit your intake of these. Diet plays a major role in how strong our immune system is; so make sure to drink sufficient amounts of water, eat plenty of vegetables and other wholesome foods this season, Remember, it’s all about balance!

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