A few months ago I got a wicked cold that led to an asthma attack. It took me weeks to recover from.
This past month, I found myself with a pretty mean cough and a runny nose. And just last week, I felt a tickle in my throat that was very unwelcome.
I wondered to myself, what on earth has happened to my immune system? Why am I getting sick so often? While I love taking those immune system boosting tablets more than anyone (because woah do they work), I’d rather not have to use them at all.
So I thought I’d share with you guys a few natural ways you can boost your immune system with your diet.
Before I go any further though, it’s important to note that there isn’t necessarily a one-stop fix for your immune system (even a tablet). Our immune systems are a lot more complex than we realize, so the best we can do is seek to live a healthy lifestyle with foods that we know strengthen and protect us in different ways, and go from there (Harvard Med).
So rather than food to boost your immune system, how about foods that keep your immune system healthy?
I’m all about garlic – in my pasta, roasted with tomatoes, and I mean, garlic butter anyone? Incredible. Turns out more garlic in your life is good for more than just flavor. Allicin, a compound found in crushed garlic, converts to compounds which have been proven to strengthen the disease-fighting response of white blood cells fighting viruses. One study conducted in Sussex, UK, found that people consuming garlic over a three-month period had a 63% lower risk of developing colds, and that their colds were 70% shorter than others using a placebo.
You know how celebs all over LA have been adding mushrooms to their coffee? This is why. While the idea is new to us, Ayurvedic medicine has used mushrooms since around 3000 B.C. as a way to boost the immune system, reduce stress and inflammation, promote healing and relaxation, and ease depression. A 2011 study at the University of Florida showed that people eating one cooked shiitake mushroom everyday for four weeks showed improved function in their gamma delta T-cells along with reduction in inflammatory proteins. If the flavor or texture of mushrooms isn’t your thing, there are tons of adaptogenic mushroom powders you can buy and just add to your coffee, smoothie bowl, or stir fry (you won’t even taste them!).
Warm water and lemon was something my old roommate used to drink every morning. I never thought to ask her why, but I’ve since learned that lemon is great for lending your immune system a healthy hand. The high vitamin C content of lemon (1 lemon contains 31 mg!) means that it is a great source of antioxidants, which are great for enhancing the immune system. Lemons also contain flavonoids, which helps to get rid of harmful free radicals that lead to inflammation.
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