It’s cold and flu season. Children are missing school, adults are missing work and everyone who has been struck has had the unfortunate luck of feeling miserable while they ride out their illness.
Rather than just trying to fight off a cold, flu, or other illness once it strikes, why not try to prevent it in the first place? There are many steps you can take to support your immune system naturally.
Read on for 10 natural immune system boosters.
Eat a Whole Foods Diet
You’ve heard the saying, you are what you eat, right? What you put into your mouth directly affects the strength of your immune system. Be sure you’re getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, quality proteins, and healthy fats – if they’re organic that’s a bonus.
Drink Plenty of Water
An adult human’s body is approximately 50-65% water, so it makes sense that drinking enough water is important. If you’re not getting enough, then you can get dehydrated easily – which weakens your immune system. Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a strong immune system. Make sure you’re drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water each day.
It’s important to exercise regularly to keep your body strong and healthy. Exercise doesn’t just help reduce stress levels, it also directly benefits the immune system, which helps ward off bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
Get Enough Sleep
Our bodies need sleep to rejuvenate, and if you’re running on fumes, your immune system will be too. Make sure you’re getting the amount of sleep your body needs each night. And try these tips for what to eat to sleep more restfully.
Get Enough Vitamin D
About 1 billion people worldwide don’t get enough Vitamin D — that includes about 50% of the U.S. population. Vitamin D helps the immune system resist bacteria and viruses. During winter, it’s harder to get your Vitamin D from the sun, so it’s important to supplement, especially if you have low levels.
Take Your Probiotics
The strength of your immune system is directly tied to the strength of your gut. If your gut is populated with the right bacteria, your body will have an easier time fighting off threats. Consuming cultured foods and beverages is one way to boost your probiotic intake; taking supplements is another.
Optimize Your Omega 3 Levels
Having good Omega 3 levels is important in maintaining good health. You can get Omega 3s from fish, such as salmon. Flaxseeds are also a source of Omega 3s that is good for vegans. If you’re not getting enough in your diet, you can also choose a good Omega 3 supplement.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
During cold and flu season, it’s even more important to wash your hands than during other times of the year. Use warm water, soap, and scrub vigorously for at least 20 seconds for best results.
Drink Immune-Boosting Teas
Teas are more than warm, calming beverages. Some of them even have immune-boosting properties. Green tea, chamomile tea, and elderberry tea are a few you can start with. You can also find tea blends that include immune-boosting herbs like echinacea. Another great choice is kombucha since it adds the benefits of probiotics.
Use Essential Oils
Many essential oils are known for their ability to support your body and ward off the possibility of threats. A variety of essential oils may offer relief from cold symptoms, including oregano, tea tree, rosemary, clove, and frankincense. Many companies offer an essential oil blend for cold relief as well. Apply diluted oils to the soles of your feet or diffuse them for immune support.
Originally published on January 5, 2015, this article was updated in January 2023.