According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a typical adult can expect to contract 2-3 colds each year. But you can reduce your risk of getting sick and reduce the duration of your illness, if you do get sick, by nourishing your body with immune boosting supplements and foods.
When it comes to helping the immune system fight disease vitamin D is essential. Vitamin D helps reduce your risk of infectious disease by strengthening your innate immune system.
It turns on key peptides in your immune system that trigger a strong anti-microbial response, allowing you to quickly and effectively fight off invaders before they can develop into a full-blown infection.
One of the best ways to maintain sufficient vitamin D levels is sun exposure. I recommend spending 20 minutes per day exposing your back, torso, and abdomen to direct sunlight. Of course, you’ll want to cover your face with a hat and wear high-quality sunscreen, but this type of exposure will help to keep your vitamin D levels between 50 and 70, which is ideal for adults. In the winter months when sun exposure is harder, supplementation of 5000-10,000IU may be necessary, depending on your current levels.
Whole beta glucan particle, a natural probiotic that helps strengthen immune cells, is another supplement I recommend for greater immunity during cold and flu season. It gives your immune system an extra boost so it can fight infection more effectively. This supplement is not commonly used or recommended by doctors, but it’s important to consider when it comes to immune system recovery. It’s so effective that it was given to soldiers in Iraq to help prevent illness!
Glutathione is another favorite of mine for immune health and support.Glutathione is the heart of all immune functions, aiding in the healthy growth and activity of immune cells. It also cleanses the immune system, helps the liver grab onto toxins and viruses, and helps the body get rid of infection faster. You can boost your glutathione levels by consuming cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage and cauliflower; foods high in folate like avocado and asparagus; and sulfur-rich foods like onions and garlic.
I often recommend that patients consume a few cloves of roasted garlic a day when they feel a cold coming on.
You can also make an immune boosting drink using garlic – chop up a clove or two of garlic, mix it with fresh lemon juice, hot water and ½ teaspoon of honey. I promise it doesn’t taste as bad as it sounds!
Finally, vitamin C is also essential for immune health. Unfortunately, the human body does not produce vitamin C, so it’s important to get it from yellow and orange fruits and veggies, like cantaloupe, oranges, yellow and orange peppers, and sweet potatoes. You can also take vitamin C in supplement form – look for lypo-spheric vitamin C, it’s fat soluble and much easier for your body to absorb than water-soluble vitamin C.
This winter, nourish your body with foods and supplements that help support your immune system – ones that have the power to keep you well but also help you to recover if you happen to succumb to a seasonal cold or two.