immunity boosters and cold fighters

Daylight savings happened in Sweden this past weekend, and I know its happening for my peeps in America this upcoming weekend. The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and it seems like everyone's immune system is now more vulnerable. As much as I love fall and winter, I don't love the germs, sniffles, and colds that seem to come with the changing seasons! A book I am currently reading called, Body into Balance made an interesting statement saying, "the germ is nothing, the environment is everything." We are surrounded by germs wherever we go, but that doesn't mean we are destined to get sick! If we nourish our bodies with the right foods, get enough sleep, and maintain good hygiene we are giving ourselves the best chance of remaining healthy. I am here to share some ways to boost your immune system, and tell you how to kick a cold in a holistic (drug free) way!

Vitamin C
This vitamin is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking of supporting your immune system. You also probably associate vitamin C with citrus fruits and while oranges are a great source of vitamin C, there are lot of other options you can incorporate into your diet. 
Broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, and tropical fruits like guava and papaya are all great sources of vitamin C.
*Try making a vitamin C loaded fall salad with spinach, roasted broccoli, red bell pepper, and tomato.

Zinc is an essential mineral for humans, but since our bodies can't make zinc we must get it through food and supplements. Zinc is super important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Here are some plant based sources of zinc: legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), nuts, whole grains (wheat, quinoa, rice, oats), potatoes, and dark chocolate.
*Try making a decadent bowl of oatmeal with honey, cinnamon, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate chunks.

Vitamin A, E, and D
These three vitamins play an important role in supporting our immune systems. Here are some examples on how you can get these vitamins through a variety of foods.
Vitamin A- Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, cantaloupe, bell pepper, and grapefruit.
Vitamin E- Sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, olive oil.
Vitamin D- Salmon, fortified nut milks such as almond or soy, orange juice, and fortified cereals and oatmeal.
*Try making a dinner with wild caught salmon, and oven roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil and topped with sunflower seeds.

Omega 3's
Omega 3 fatty acids help to strengthen our immunity and protects us against infections. Omega 3's are most commonly found in fish but there are some plant based sources as well. 
-Salmon, cod liver oil found in supplement form, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, and edamame.
*Try adding chia seeds to your oatmeal or smoothies for a boost of omega 3. I also like adding a tbsp of chia seeds to a glass of water and drinking that throughout the day.

Echinacea is one of the best immunity supporting herbs out there because of how it interferes with viruses abilities to spread. Some people take it as a preventive measure when they are exposed to more germs, like when traveling for example, or when cold/flu symptoms start, in hopes of cutting down the duration of the illness. 
Echinacea can be taken in supplement form, or in tea form. I would recommend trying Traditional Medicinals Echinaea Plus Tea.
Turmeric is another great immunity booster. It is an anti-inflammatory, and high in antioxidants which helps to fight off infections and harmful bacteria. You can take turmeric in supplement form, or sprinkle turmeric into a variety of foods such as soups, curries, oatmeal, or in a immunity shot with cayenne pepper, ginger, and lemon juice.

Elderberry is a powerful herb that helps to block viruses from connecting with our cells that would then turn into an illness, it is also great for your immune system thanks to it's high antioxidant properties. Elderberry can be taken daily as a preventive measure, or every hour once you start feeling sick with a cold or the flu. You can take elderberry in the form of syrup, in an herbal supplement, or as tea. Many elderberry teas also contain echinacea which makes for a powerful combination. Due to it's gentle but effective ways, elderberry is great for kids, adults, and the elderly.

Garlic is an antimicrobial which helps kill germs, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Garlic can be used as immunity support, while it also helps to lessen your symptoms if you do end up catching a cold. Try adding garlic to any savory meal you may be making, it is great in stir fries, mixed in with oven roasted vegetables, and in soups.

Hot Peppers
Peppers are full of beta carotenes and antioxidants which do an amazing job at fighting off the common cold and flu. Hot peppers have an ingredient called "capsaicin" which is a natural pain reliever, and it helps fight off dangerous germs and bacteria. Hot peppers are also a great medicine free way to get your nasal passages flowing if you do have a cold and are stopped up ;) Try peppers like jalapeno, red pepper flakes, and different hot sauces.

Believe it or not, mushrooms are the MVP of immunity support. I know many people do not like mushrooms (hi dad!) but whether you eat them or not, you can't deny the amazing benefits they have that help keep us healthy. Mushrooms aren't only good for treating the common cold but they also can help to balance autoimmune diseases as well. Different varieties of mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes in many cultures for centuries. As with anything, be sure to do additional research if you want to know more in depth on what different mushrooms can do for your health! Here are 5 popular mushroom types that will help you boost your immunity: shiitake, turkey tail, maitake, cordyceps, reishi, and chaga.

I fully believe we can heal and nourish our bodies best by eating healthy foods, and making sure we are getting all the proper vitamins and minerals we need to thrive every day! Due to my husbands profession there are a lot of medicines he can't take because of banned substances and anti-doping regulations. He doesn't have the "convenience" of just taking a NyQuil when he has a cold, so we really do try our best to treat colds and other common illnesses holistically if they strike us. Since becoming more aware of what we are putting in our bodies we have both stayed pretty darn healthy. Of course there are times when medicine is the answer, but I am encouraging you to try something new and I am introducing you to foods, supplements, and vitamins that can boost your immunity this upcoming fall and winter!

*The sources that inspired this post and where I found all this information came from the books I have read in my Holistic Nutritionist course, How Not To Die, Disease Delusion, and Body into Balance*

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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