5 NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM DURING COLD AND FLU SEASON
With fall and winter just around the corner and kids returning to school, many of us start dreading the upcoming months of battling germs. And while our bodies on a whole do a rather remarkable job of keeping us healthy through our immune systems, this time of year seems particularly prone to bugs and sniffles.
Your immune system is your body’s defense against bacteria and viruses. It’s what keeps you healthy and strong, but even people with a healthy immune system get sick from time to time. If it feels like your family is on a constant sickness cycle with germs passing from one person to the next, it’s time to take a serious look at your immune systems.
According to Harvard Health, your first line of defense is to create a healthy lifestyle. Some ways you can work toward a healthy lifestyle right now include:
Eat plenty of germ-fighting superfoods. Not all foods are created equal. In fact, there’s some pretty solid evidence that certain food items actually help fight germs and keep your immune system in shipshape. Consider adding the following superfoods to your diet for healthy immune system power:
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Yogurt: Containing tons of live cultures of what are known as probiotics, a single 7-ounce serving of yogurt every day was found to be just as effective as popping probiotic pills. Probiotics strengthen the GI system, ensuring that your body is taking in and utilizing as many nutrients as possible that help fight sickness. One Swedish study found that employees who took a supplement containing Lactobacillus reuteri (active bacteria found in probiotics) took 33% fewer sick days than those given only a placebo.
Garlic: Contains the active ingredient allicin, which helps fight infection. One British study found that those taking garlic for 12 weeks were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold.2
Citrus: Fruits like oranges, tangerines, lemons, clementines, and grapefruit are loaded with vitamin C, which is still believed to top the list of vitamins that help boost the immune system. If you’re already under the weather and can’t stomach the acidity from citrus, be sure to get a wholesome multi-vitamin supplement with plenty of vitamin C.
Practice good hygiene. During cold and flu season, it’s more important than ever to keep things clean. Be sure to wash hands frequently, especially each and every time you or your little ones come and go from the home. Go through the house daily, wiping doorknobs, light switches, and countertops. While this step doesn’t directly boost your immune system, it will help you prevent certain sicknesses by eliminating the germs in your home that cause them to begin with.
Rest up. When you aren’t sleeping enough or are experiencing high levels of stress, cortisol is released in your body which can suppress immune system function. By managing your sleep and stress levels, you can naturally control cortisol and do your immune system a favor. Furthermore, studies show that T-cell (the cells responsible for fighting off foreign invaders in our bodies) production goes down when there’s a lack of sleep. If you’re having trouble unwinding at night, try diffusing blended essential oils that are specifically formulated to promote relaxation and rest.
Steer clear of sugar. Science has found that just 10 teaspoons of sugar (the equivalent amount in two 12-ounce cans of soda) can impair the ability of white blood cells to deactivate or kill bacteria. When your white blood cells are impaired, they’re unable to fight infections and illnesses. Remember: sugar is lurking in all kinds of foods including jarred pasta sauces, juices, and salad dressings and it adds up surprisingly quick. Try to avoid this by reading labels and looking for items that have been naturally sweetened instead of using added sugar.
Get moving. Your immune system responds to physical activity by boosting the production of cells responsible for attacking bacterial invaders. Further research indicates that those who exercise 5-6 times a week experience half as many colds and sore throats compared with those who get little to no physical exercise.  So do yourself a favor and get into a consistent workout routine now before cold and flu season really amps up.
We can’t avoid cold and flu season; it comes every single year. But we can rely on some pretty impressive natural remedies to boost our immune systems in order to stay strong and healthy this fall and winter. Be sure to remember these tips next time a family member drags the sniffles home with them.
 Harvard Health Publications. (2014). How to boost your immune system. Accessed August 5, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.
 MacMillian, A. & Schryver, T. (2014). 9 power foods that boost immunity. Accessed August 9. 2016. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/power-foods-that-boost-immunity.
 Pletcher, P. (2015). Super foods that boost the immune system. Accessed August 10, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#Immuneboosters1.
 White, L. (2014). 10 simple and natural ways to boost your immune system. Accessed August 10, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/white-seeber-grogan-the-remedy-chicks/ten-simple-natural-ways-to-boost-immune-system/.
 Mann, D. (2016). Can better sleep mean catching fewer colds? Accessed August 10, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/immune-system-lack-of-sleep#1.
 Gelman, L. (n.d.) Never get sick: 12 natural habits that boost your immune system. Accessed August 11, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.rd.com/health/conditions/boost-immune-system/.
Tags: Boost, Citrus, Cold, Diet, Flu, Garlic, Hand Washing, Healthy, Hygiene, Immune, Immune System, Immunity, Multivitamin, Rest, Sick, Sleep, Strong, Sugar, Superfoods, Supplements, Vitamin C, Well, Yogurt