Cold and flu season is already here, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Check out these tips to help boost your immune system and increase your viral resistance…no, they aren’t all green juice, but you sure can get your fix of #1, 2, and 4 at the Juice Barn!
Conventional wisdom purports that there’s not much you can do to prevent or treat colds and flus, but did you know there actually is quite a bit of proven clinical data supporting many nutritional and lifestyle remedies to do just that: help prevent, reduce the intensity, and shorten the duration of cold or flu!
#1: Consume lots of immune-boosting nutrients!
There are several vitamins and minerals that are essential for immune health. The Standard American Diet (SAD) generally does not provide enough of these immune-boosting nutrients, for optimal health. Even if you are in the small group of people achieving daily recommended allowances of our necessary macro and micronutrients, higher levels may be necessary in time of stress or sickness. These include:
• Vitamin C. RDA is 60mg per day, but the body may need much more when sick. Food forms of vitamin C are always more easily absorbed. Get it in your diet: yellow bell peppers, dark leafy greens, strawberries, citrus fruits, and butternut squash.
• Zinc. Zinc is another immune-boosting nutrient that many people don’t obtain enough of. You can add zinc supplements for short periods when you feel you’re fighting something, but you could just as easily get zinc in your diet from including oysters, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, and spinach.
• Vitamins A & D. Both of these fat-soluble vitamins are imperative to immune health, but data suggests that they are much more effective for preventing/reversing colds and flus when taken together. Get your combo fix with a reputable cod-liver oil supplement, or a minimum of 15 minutes of sunlight, or obtain them separately from foods like liver, fish, sweet potato, carrots, and dark leafy greens.
• Selenium. Selenium is an immune supporting mineral, and stimulates the development and function of white blood cells and enhances the ability of lymphocytes and natural killer cells, to activate and respond to invaders such as bacteria and viruses, including the flu. Selenium works synergistically with Vitamin E, A and C as an antioxidant.. Most Americans get enough in their diet, but taking a little extra during cold and flu season has shown to help in clinical trials. Just two Brazil nuts a day fulfill your recommended daily requirements, so drop a couple in your daily smoothie!
• Iodine. Iodine also plays an important role in immune health, and many Americans don’t get enough of it. Iodized salt was a good source, but as people become more aware of the health benefits of eating unrefined salt, that isn’t supplemented with iodine, it is even more important to eat foods that naturally contain this important element. The only significant sources of iodine in the diet are seaweed, seafood such as cod and shrimp, and dairy (especially pasture-raised dairy). If you’re not eating these foods regularly, you may want to supplement with kelp, or spirulina in your juice or smoothies.
• Garlic. Garlic is one of the best foods you can add to your diet to fight a cold or flu. According to studies, garlic can boost immune function by stimulating white blood cells. This then increases the antibody functions. It also has antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Add garlic to soups, bread, salad dressings, or just about any home-cooked meal!
#2: Include Ginger in your diet
Ginger is a potent anti-viral substance that prevents viral infections by deterring the adhesion of viruses to the upper respiratory tract. Ginger is very effective as a fresh, full-strength juice. If you or someone in your family suffers from frequent colds/flus, try fresh ginger. If you can’t handle the intensity of strait ginger shots, I recommend adding it to water with raw honey, or grating the root into hot water to make a tea.
#3: Wash your hands
I’m sure you already know this, but did you know that studies have shown that frequent hand-washing is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves during cold & flu season. Wash your hands frequently, especially before you eat, and in public places.
#4: Take elderberry syrup
Elderberry is one of my favorite immune boosters to recommend, because it is effective, and delicious. Long used as an herbal remedy for colds and flus, elderberry is rich in powerful antioxidant, and clinical data suggests that elderberry extract offers virus-fighting, immune-stimulating, and anti-inflammatory effects.
#5: Rest and Breath Deeply
Rest is essential when the body is working hard battling a virus. Of course it’s not always easy to take time for yourself, especially if you have young children and/or are constantly overcommitted, but even a few shorter down times throughout the day can make a big difference when it comes to supporting your immune system.
Breathing deeply can help promote rest, and reduce stress, but deep breathing is not only relaxing, it's been scientifically proven to positively affect the heart, the brain, digestion, and the immune system.