I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting tired of the up and down with the temperature. I adore those warm days outside in the sun, but they’re few and far between lately. I don’t mind the rain at all though!(Yay for the plants!) Just the fact that I can wear a t-shirt outside one day, then my winter coat the next has me a bit rattled. Because of this quick-changing pattern we’ve had, there are a few people around me that have caught a cold or the flu. It’s time to tap into our natural arsenal to boost the immune system and fight off those germs!
I usually have an immune boosting tea in my purse or desk at work, but if you’re in a pinch there are a few supplements you can pick up at almost any store. Some easily accessible supplements include zinc, echinacea and vitamin C. You can find all of these in capsule form at most grocery stores, health food stores and vitamin stores. There are also other variations including tea, powder, and lozenges. Helping your immune system has never been easier!
Zinc is a nutrient that a lot of people are deficient in as it’s not easy to get a sufficient amount from food-unless you eat a lot of seeds. Zinc is involved in antibody production, helping reduce the length of a cold-but you have to take it as soon as you notice symptoms. I prefer to take it in a capsule form that you’d find in the vitamin section of most stores. There are also lozenges, which are great since they’ll help soothe a sore throat while providing the powerful benefits of zinc. I don’t recommend a nasal spray, since they’ve been shown to reduce our sense of smell. Some food sources include pumpkin and squash seeds, whole grains and shellfish; with pumpkin seeds clocking in 17mg (100%RDV) of zinc per 100mg or ½ cup serving.
Lastly, vitamin C is everyone’s holy grail. It’s an antioxidant that helps our immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria. It’s water-soluble, so it’s easy to absorb; and has a ton of benefits including maintaining healthy bones, healing wounds, as well as fighting cancer and free radicals. If you take a multivitamin regularly, and eat a fairly healthy diet, you should already be getting enough of this anti-scurvy nutrient. But when people around you are sniffling and coughing, it’s a good time to get some extra vitamin C. Obviously, citrus fruits are a tasty way to boost this, as well as eating a variety of fresh fruits and veggies. You can also keep a few packets of the fizzy vitamin C powder on hand. They’re not the most natural method, and they’re a bit high in sugar, but for 1000% vitamin C in one packet, I’m not complaining too much.
Echinacea stimulates the cells in our bodies that fight off invaders. Ingesting this flower increases the number of white blood cells, so you’ll have more tiny soldiers to defend your body from the cold or flu. I keep echinacea tea at my desk, and a soothing, hot cup of tea is my favorite way to enjoy the purple flower. Although difficult to find, there’s cold-pressed liquid forms, as well as an alcohol-based tincture. Otherwise, you can find the capsule form in a health store.
To get the most benefit out of these supplements during cold and flu season, it’s best to take them within 48 hours of noticing any symptoms. They may not prevent a cold for everyone, but they well shorten it. If I wake up with a little sniffle, or someone at work sounds congested, I’ll brew a cup of echinacea tea in the morning, have a salad or fresh-squeezed juice at lunch, and make sure I take my vitamins a night. By using these remedies, plus frequent hand washing and a healthy diet, I haven’t had a cold or the flu in over 2 years. Stay healthy, friends! -N
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