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The best way to avoid illness is with a healthy life style, (exercise, eating whole foods, stress reduction, etc). This is more effective than masks and hand sanitizers. But once we’ve established said life style, are there supplements that enhance immunity even further? Here is a short list of some of the best natural herbs and supplements known to support a strong immune system.
1. Elderberry: Antioxidant-rich and full of vitamin C. Early studies seem to show that compounds in the elderberries may help block viruses from entering cells and limit their ability to spread. Other studies support the elderberry’s ability to stop some strains of influenza virus, and it may boost recovery time without side effects. Available as a supplement.
2. Garlic: Enhances immune function to protect against infection and contains vitamin C and zinc, which support a strong immune response. Available as a supplement.
3. Green Tea: Classified as a superfood, it offers impressive health benefits including immune support. Having a cup of tea is a great way to lower stress and relax. Available as a supplement.
4. Maitake mushroom: Research being done to understand how stress reduces the immune system’s ability to fight infection, discovered that an extract of maitake mushroom stimulates the white blood cells that target bacteria. Combining maitake extract and ashwagandha (an Ayurvedic herb) was shown to be even more effective at reducing stress and boosting immunity.
5. Olive leaf: Research suggests that its compounds can calm the body’s inflammatory response and promote optimum immune performance. It fights bacteria and viruses which help in defense against colds and flu.
6. Probiotics: Gut-friendly bacteria are needed not only for a healthy digestive system but also for a sturdy immune system. Consider taking daily probiotic supplements or eating unsweetened yogurt with live cultures or kefir several times a week. Other cultured or fermented foods have benefits too.
7. Vitamins C & D: These two vitamins are required for the immune system to function. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased susceptibility to infection. Vitamin C boosts the production of anti-stress hormones, and immune system proteins that stimulate the production of white blood cells, the infection fighters of our body.
8. Zinc: A required mineral that supports healthy immunity, it is one of the most common minerals in the body and is found in every cell. Zinc depletion results in significantly decreased immune system cell function.
A healthy balanced life, and these easy to take supplements and herbs should go a long way in keeping you healthy this spring. Spring colds are the worst!