Natural Immunity Boosters

According to my son’s pediatrician, February is a popular month at her office– there are lots of people getting sick! I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid illness for the last 3 years, but after flying home for the holidays, my son and I both came down with colds. Being a sick parent with a sick baby is the WORST.

bowl of soup

However, that awful experience did have a positive outcome. I’ve since attempted to learn everything I can about the immune system, and it’s now my top priority to boost my family’s immunity as much as possible. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with another cold again anytime soon!

Below, are the supplements that I feel have been working for us.

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is naturally antimicrobial, and raw apple cider vinegar has the added benefit of enzymes and friendly bacteria to help promote a healthy gut. Gut health is key to a healthy immune system! According to this article, “our intestines contain more immune cells than the entire rest of our body.” Be sure to use raw and organic apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s) that is labeled “with the Mother.” It will have cobweb-like strands floating at the bottom of the bottle, which are thought to contain those enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

Garlic

Garlic is known for boosting immune function. One 12-week study showed that daily garlic supplementation significantly reduced the number of colds when compared to taking a placebo, and those that did get colds while taking garlic recovered faster than those who didn’t take the supplement.

Elderberry

Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and contain significant amounts of vitamin C, which is known for boosting the immune system.  One study found that 93% of influenza patients taking elderberry extract saw significant improvement in symptoms in just 2 days, while the group on the placebo took 6 days to see similar results. Another study showed that elderberry has anti-influenza effects comparable to taking drugs like Tamiflu and Amantadine. Elderberry extract is available in capsules, and it’s commonly sold as a syrup, too. (We use this one, which is made with raw honey, rather than the agave or fructose found in other brands.)

Ginger

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, boosts the immune system, and can help reduce digestive upset. I’ve been adding fresh ginger to our smoothies regularly, and my son loves it!

Bone Broth

This one is relatively new to me, but I finally decided to try bone broth after hearing so much about its potential benefits. Bone broth, made from grass-fed animals, is thought to contain a variety of minerals, along with gelatin which is thought to help heal the lining of the gut. (Again, gut health is crucial for immunity!) It may very well be why homemade chicken soup has been considered such a healing food for so many generations.

*Note: If you’re in the Los Angeles area, check out the Bone Broth Cleanse deal on Gilt City this week! Chef Debbie, from Mind Body Fork, recently shared some complimentary samples of her bone broth with me, and it’s AMAZINGI’m glad to have tried bone broth from a professional chef, so I know what to look for when I make my own in the future!

Vitamin C

There’s no proof that vitamin C can prevent a cold, but studies like this one have shown that it can help alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of certain infections, including the common cold. (In addition to eating foods naturally rich in vitamin C, like dark leafy greens and citrus fruits, my family uses these supplements for acute symptoms.)

Vitamin D

I prefer to get my daily dose of vitamin D from the sun, but when I need an immunity boost, I’ll take a vitamin D supplement (we use this brand) to make sure I’m getting an adequate amount. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased rates of infection, and one study showed that a therapeutic dose of vitamin D resulted in a significant (42%) decrease the incidence of the flu among participants.

Other general immunity tips include getting LOTS of rest and avoiding processed foods, especially refined sugar, as much as possible. One study suggests that sugar may temporarily reduce the body’s immune function, and we all know that processed foods, in general, don’t do a body good.

Wishing you all lots of healthy days ahead!

Reader Feedback: Do you have any immunity boosters you’d like to add to the list? Add them to the comments below! Sleeping used to be my go-to method for stopping a cold, but taking a day off from work and sleeping as much as I want to isn’t an option for me anymore– there are no “sick days” for parents! So, it’s even more important now that I don’t get sick in the first place.

Get more recipes + meal plans in my books:

detox book and meal plan

Never Miss a Post!

Get a FREE 3-Day Detox Plan when you sign up for my email newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

Kayla

Thanks for the great tips! I’ve been around a lot of sick people this winter but I’ve not gotten anything. I truly think it helps to have healthy habits. It doesn’t have anything to do with eating, but I think being consistent with hand washing is important. I always wash my hands first thing when I get home from anywhere, but especially when I get home from the grocery store. Who knows what’s on our hands from there?! It’s important to be healthy, inside and out!

The healthy hipster

Thanks for the reminders! I absolutely love using natural remedies and swear by garlic and ginger during the cold winter months. Have yet to try bone broth but looks like it’s worth a go 🙂

Laura

Megan, Elderberry syrup is a cinch to make and costs a fraction of the price! Access to dried elderberries and raw honey are all you really need. Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite online source for dried elderberries and learningherbs.com and wellnessmama.com both have easy recipes. And, you’re right…parents don’t get sick days! 🙂 Blessings, Laura

Amanda

Thanks for these great suggestions, Megan! I recently began taking Garden of Life RAW probiotics after some family members recommended them (my BF’s uncle, a skeptic in every sense, has been taking them for three years and has yet to get sick, so I figured they were worth giving a shot!), and so far, I’m pleased with how they’ve impacted my digestion and overall energy level.

I’m curious about the smoothies you’ve been making with the addition of ginger: do you and your little one have any particular flavor combinations that work well with the ginger?

Cheers!

Amanda

Laura @ Raise Your Garden

I’m new to bone broth as well ~ but I’m reading as much as I can about it and find it a fascinating topic! Thank you for sharing this post, it is just so timely, 2 girls, one with a double ear infection right now! One thing I really struggle with as a mom is when to administer an anti-biotic and when to hold off. Such a tough decision! I want my kids to be able to fight off colds and flu, but don’t want them to suffer either. The one with a double ear infection was in the NICU at the Hospital for 8 weeks and while there picked up RSV from one of the doctors. My pediatrician grabs my arm every time she sees me and says “you have no idea, none whatsoever what should have happened to your daughter and I can’t even tell you” So avoiding sickness is big here! Being up all night with sick kids is so tough and I just have so much more respect for my mom now ~ maybe this is why I buy her flowers every chance I get =)

Jess @ Crunchy Hot Mama

Love this list! We do most of them but I also add immune boosters that our pedi recommends. My 4 year old loves taking them and my 16 month old will get them out of the pantry and bring them to me to give to her 😉 I just started giving my youngest the chewable probiotic from Klaire Labs and that seems easier than trying to get her to eat something with the powdered version sprinkled in.

http://crunchyhotmama.com/2012/02/03/daily-maintenance-immune-boosters/

That’s funny that you mention bone broth because I have a pot going in my crock pot that’s been simmering for several days-I’ve made 3 batches from it and plan to toss the bones today. It’s perfect for those rare chances that we have snow in Dallas (like we’ve had this week) to help warm little ones up when they come in 🙂

http://crunchyhotmama.com/2013/10/23/make-your-own-broth-beef-chicken-vegetable/

Ornella

We do them all and in addition do raw probiotics and fermented fish oil. I also do my own bine broth from Amish organic bones, add some raw Apple cider vinegar to the bones for 1 h to extract the minerals and then boil at low heat for 24-30 h…only then you are able to get all the Amazing minerals from the bones! Add some turmeric to my soups… A terrific boost!:) this is what my 4 year old has for lunch!

Lorain

Olive leaf extract. As soon as I feel the start of a cold I take two and then one three times a day. Never fails when you catch it soon enough

Kezia @ Super Naturally Healthy

Garlic, bone broth and sleep re definitely some of mine. I have also just started taking fermented cod liver oil and I use oregano oil too both topically an internally – but thanks for some of the links and research – LOVE all that stuff:)

Grace

Colostrum works great for our family! A few capsules at the first sign stops a cold in it’s tracks. Even if you can’t catch it early, colostrum will shorten a cold’s duration. Love it!

Hope you both feel better soon!

Kimberly Jo

How much ginger do you put in your smoothies? If I buy bone broth from the store, how much would I need to take for the health benefits?

Missy Jo

Hoping someone can help me, I sound so dense compared to everyone on here….I just started using coconut oil…where has it been all my life? I ate nothing but your recipes for almost 3 months and felt better than I had in years….looked better too! I went on a cruise in July and started eating like everyone else around me. Now I’m in an awful mess. For several years I’ve had terrible joint pain, been told my lab work shows I have Lupus, and have worse fatigue than when I had Epstein Barr and mono. Can you help me where I should start? I have an herbalist that has told me to do a Candida cleanse, but I don’t know where to start with the diet part. I am reading The Myers Way 21-Day Guided Cleanse by Amy Myers MD. So many websites contradict each other and I AM LOST! PS—-my favorite recipe of yours is the cheesecake…..wonderful and so thankful for your recipes! Counting down for your book release.

Leslie Gordon

I use Elderberry Plus Syrup by Wise Woman Herbals, SuperLysine by Quantum and a plethora fo organic teas

Never Miss a Post!

Get a FREE 3-Day Detox Plan when you sign up for my email newsletter