Fall and winter usher in the cold and flu season, so it's important to boost your immune system to protect from viruses and germs. With the busy holiday social season, you need to be especially careful since you are much more likely to come into contact with folks sniffling and sneezing.
Here are some simple home remedies to protect yourself and boost your immune system.
- Drink lemon ginger tea. This soothing and effective immune booster can be brewed in minutes. Ginger has high levels of antioxidants and antimicrobial properties. Lemons add vitamin C and have powerful antibacterial properties. Simply steep 1 inch of fresh ginger and 2 ounces of organic lemon juice in four cups of water and simmer for 15 minutes. You can add some raw honey if you wish to sweeten the pot.
- Protect your gut. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic say that people who have more healthy bacteria in their gut tend to get sick less often. Their research has shown bacteria from probiotics help strengthen the cells in the immune system. For example, have yogurt for breakfast and eat fermented food like sauerkraut or pickles at lunch or dinner.
- Take vitamins C and D. Experts at the Chopra Center recommend taking vitamin C to boost your immune system. Eat more veggies and fruits high in this vitamin, such as peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, and grapefruit, or take a supplement. Experts also recommend taking vitamin D to ward off bacteria and viruses. Research shows that nearly half of all people have a vitamin D deficiency by the end of winter. Foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish, milk, egg yolks, and fortified orange juice.
- Add zinc supplements. Zinc is a mineral that is essential for immune function, notes Sue Van Rues, a functional nutritionist at the Chopra Center. Foods that are rich in zinc include chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, oysters, cashews, and oats.
- Be snack savvy. Colorful vegetables and fruit such as berries contain powerful antioxidants that keep the immune system strong by neutralizing damaging free radicals. Research has also found that the soluble fiber found in nuts, fruits, veggies, and oats helps reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
- Get your sleep. "The functioning of your immune system is intimately tied to the amount and quality of sleep," says W. Chris Winter, M.D., author of "The Sleep Solution." The less sleep you get, the more depressed your immune system becomes. Aim for at least seven hours nightly. And while you are under the sheets, get busy. People who were intimate once or twice a week in one study had a 30% increase in the antigen that protects against colds and flu.
- Eat garlic. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative health, garlic is widely recognized as a natural infection fighter and immune booster. Not only does it add a little zing to your food, it's a must-have for your good health. Garlic can also lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries, says cardiologist Dr. Matthew Budoff, who conducted research on the health benefits of aged garlic extract.
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