The cold & flu season is here! And it’s projected to be an intense one this year.

One of the best ways to support your immune system is through HOW you live your life.

There are many things you can do to support and fortify your immune system to prevent or reduce the intensity.

Here are 27 tips to support your immune system this season!

Foods That Support The Immune System

Focus on including these immune supportive foods into your diet. Aim to include these as part of your daily routine:

Fermented foods.
Including kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. Fermented foods all contain helpful bacteria, and consuming them is the first step in promoting a healthy environment for your gut to carry out its virus-fighting functions.

Garlic.
Garlic is both prebiotic and highly antioxidant, acting as “fuel” for healthy bacteria in the gut. However, in order to benefit from these properties, it must be consumed raw. Add garlic to your salads or dips.

Citrus fruits.
Vitamin C is amazing at reducing the length and intensity of the common cold. Eat a lot of citrus fruits to get your daily dose! This includes grapefruit, clementine, lemon (add to tea) and orange.

Turmeric.
Fresh turmeric is renowned for its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial effects. Studies have found that countries where curcumin (the active compound) is consumed regularly by the population had lower rates of some cancers. I’d recommend adding turmeric to your meals and teas! For better absorption, make sure to take it with black pepper and/or healthy fats!

Oily fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in abundance in oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, are substances that aid the body with fighting inflammation. Chronic inflammation can increase your risk of getting sick.

Mushrooms.
Mushrooms are excellent at supporting the immune system. They contain plenty of immune- boosting antioxidants as well as beta glucans which help support a weak immune system. Shiitake, maitake and reishi are great choices.

Foods That Weaken The Immune System

Reduce your chances of getting sick this winter and AVOID these immune-weakening foods:

Fried foods

A group of molecules known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are abundant in fried foods. AGEs are believed to damage the immune system in a number of ways, including:
● Cellular malfunction
● Inflammation
● And harming gut microbes.

Processed foods.
Sorry to break it to you, but that does include processed meats, cereals, cakes and biscuits. Highly processed foods promote inflammation, increase gut permeability, and alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, all of which have a negative impact on immune function.

Foods with added sugar.
Your production of inflammatory proteins increases when consuming foods that dramatically raise blood sugar levels, such as those high in added sugars. Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks and support a healthy immune system!

Foods high in omega-6 fats.
Diets high in omega-6 fats appear to stimulate the production of pro-inflammatory proteins which can weaken the immune response. Reduce your intake of foods high in omega-6s such as sunflower canola, and corn oil.

Alcohol.
Alcohol can impact and weaken the body’s natural immune response. One way it does this is by harming beneficial gut bacteria that support the development of T cells.

Teas to Support The Immune System

Many teas are full of antioxidants and contain properties that combat viruses and bacteria within the body. Some of the top immune supportive teas include:

Ginger.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory qualities, making it a valuable spice for therapeutic purposes. Ginger tea is amazing for immune support as well as lowering blood sugar levels and assisting in digestion.

Peppermint.

Research has shown that peppermint contains antibacterial and antiviral properties which help prevent disease. Peppermint tea can offer a high dose of antioxidants as well as a healthier immune system.

Chamomile.
The polyphenols in chamomile tea may be responsible for the stronger immune responses seen in regular tea drinkers. Drinking a few cups a day may help you build a stronger immune system!

Green tea.
Green tea shields the body from oxidants and radicals, which in turn, boosts the immune system. It includes the potent antioxidant epigallocatechin (EGCC), which also aids in preventing cell damage.

Licorice root.
This age-old herbal remedy contains glycyrrhizic acid, providing the body with anti-inflammatory properties, strengthening the immune system and aiding in the relief of digestive issues.

Lemongrass.
Due to its high mineral and vitamin content, lemongrass tea is an amazing choice for the immune system. Vitamins C and A help boost immunity and ward against diseases.

Lifestyle Tips to Support The Immune System

Implement these lifestyle changes this season to support the health of your immune system.

Use a neti-pot / gargle with sea salt water.
Sea salt works wonders as an anti-inflammatory, and a neti-pot can prevent viruses from entering through the mouth or nose, as well as balancing the various nervous systems of the body.

Get outside.
Ever heard of open-air therapy? During both day and at night, fresh air is believed to help ward off bacteria and viruses more effectively than indoor air, boosting the immune system.

Sleep a little longer.
It’s normal to need more sleep during the winter. An additional 1.75 to 2.5 hours each night are typical, but just ensure that you’re limiting your sleep to 7–10 hours total per night.

Reduce stress.
Too much stress can weaken your immune system. Whenever you are feeling stressed…stop and engage your senses:
● See… what are 5 things that you see.
● Hear…what are 5 things that you hear
● Taste…what taste(s) do you notice (applicable only if eating ��)
● Smell…what do you smell?
● Touch…what are 5 textures can you feel in your environment?

Immune Supportive Supplements

When life feels overwhelming, sometimes your immune system needs all the support it can get. Support your immune system with these supplements.

Multivitamin/Mineral.
A multivitamin is a great way to ensure that you’re getting all the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs on a daily basis. Look for a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains active B vitamin forms like methylcobalamin and methyltetrahydrofolate.

Vitamin C
It’s well-known that vitamin C can greatly support the immune system. It’s recommended to take 500 to 1,000 mg over the course of the day with meals and snacks.

Vitamin D3.
According to studies, those who are vitamin D deficient are 11 times more likely to contract a cold or the flu, while those who take vitamin D supplements have a 42% decrease in these illnesses. For correct dosing, it is best to have your 25-OH vitamin D levels evaluated.

Zinc citrate/orotate/sulfate.
There are many ways zinc helps the immune system, but the most powerful way is by activating enzymes that break down bacteria and viral proteins, which makes them less contagious. It’s recommended to get 15mg of zinc per day.

Antiviral herbs.
Many herbs have immune-boosting and antimicrobial effects. Some of my favorites include astragalus, green tea extract, andrographis, and monolaurin to support immune function.

Arctic cod-liver oil.
An age-old remedy for many diseases, cod liver oil contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D which lower inflammation along with your risk of blood clots.

NOTE: Always consult with your practitioner before starting or stopping any supplements.

Know someone who could benefit from these tips? Share this article with them!

Dr. Inna lukyanovsky, PharmD

Dr. Inna lukyanovsky, PharmD

Doctor of Pharmacy, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Gut Health Expert and Best Selling Author of the book "Crohn's and Colitis Fix."

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