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.
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 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.
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 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!
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 AMAZING. I’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!
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.)
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.