Natural Immune Boosting Tips
Winter is an amazing time of year with fresh snowfalls, the holiday season, sledding, ice skating, and cozy indoor activities like family movies and game nights. My family, especially the kids, loves all things winter related. Unfortunately, along with the colder months comes increased incidence of illness. I focus on naturally building up our immune systems to prevent sickness from overtaking our home all winter long. If we do happen to get sick, it is generally mild and short-lived.
Mountain Rose Herbs is an Oregon based company whose products I use to keep my family healthy. Their specialties include organic herbs, tea blends, essential oils, supplements, and many other natural health items. They carry pretty much any herb you could ever want which is great for an herbal remedy enthusiast like me. I have personally used their products for many years and have always been impressed with the great quality of all the items.
Many of the products for this post were provided by Mountain Rose Herbs but all the opinions are completely my own. None of the information in this post is meant to be considered medical advice. Always consult a health professional before taking any herbs or supplements.
Read below for the top five natural ways that I stay healthy during the winter months.
Elderberry is one of the main supplements I focus on taking in the winter to boost my immune system. Elderberries help build up the immune system by increasing cytokine production and stimulating the immune response. They are also high in antioxidants which protects cells from damage and have been shown to decrease the activity of viruses (1).
Ways to take Elderberry:
- Syrup: I like to make my own syrup using dried elderberries. Check out my easy tutorial for elderberry syrup if you are interested in making some yourself. I also keep a bottle or two of pre-made syrup on hand, just in case I run out and haven’t had time to make more. This is a great quality elderberry syrup from Mountain Rose Herbs that I use for myself and my family. The recommended dose per day is 1/2-1 tsp for children and 2 tsp for adults.
- Tincture: Elderberry tincture is another great way to take elderberry. I mix approximately 15 drops of tincture into some hot peppermint tea and drink it at least 5 days a week. Mountain Rose Herbs’ mint tea blend is especially delicious and refreshing. Elderberry and peppermint are a great tasting combination that have a synergistic effect against viruses.
- Powder: Elderberry in powdered form can be mixed into a smoothie or given on a spoon with applesauce. You could also purchase empty capsules, like these, and fill them with the powder.
2. Bone Broth
Drinking bone broth is an excellent way to stay healthy and strengthen the immune system. It is rich in minerals and nutrients that the body requires to fight off illness and helps support the response of the immune system (2). When chicken (or beef) bones are simmered in water for an extended period of time it allows minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium to be released into the broth. The broth is also rich in gelatin which contains amino acids and helps to heal the digestive tract and encourage proper digestion of proteins (3). A healthy digestive tract helps decrease overall inflammation throughout the body.
I drink a mug of bone broth 2-3 times a week during the winter months. I personally love the taste of it but if you aren’t a huge fan another great option is to just add it to soups or other recipes. Soups are on my weekly recipe rotation and I always use bone broth as the base. My favorite recipe and one that is always a hit with my family is this Chicken and Rice soup. It is so warm and comforting when it is cold outside! If you are new to bone broth, follow our easy step by step recipe in this post.
3. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas are an awesome way to give your body the extra nutrients it requires to stay healthy. I love to drink tea in the evenings with a little bit of raw honey stirred in for sweetness. Loose leaf tea is what I generally use as it is more cost effective than pre-packaged tea bags. This mesh infuser is what I use to brew my tea when I am at home. I also love this tea cup infuser because it is so convenient and perfect for using on the go.
Echinacea is an herb that stimulates the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Echinacea tea is perfect for when you have been exposed to illness or have stressed your immune system. Drink a mug a day to help to keep your immune system in fighting shape. If you feel cold-like symptoms coming on, increase to 3-5 cups per day.
Rose Hip Tea
Rose hips are very high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, even more so than citrus fruits. One serving of rose hip tea contains approximately 70mg of Vitamin C while a whole orange only contains 51mg. Vitamin C helps increase collagen production, reduce inflammation, and improve immunity. Drinking rose hip tea on a regular basis is a great way to get your daily dose of Vitamin C and boost your immune system.
Nettle Leaf Tea
Nettle leaf is an awesome immune booster and is great for improving overall health. It contains flavonoids that help to stimulate the immune system. The diuretic properties of nettle leaf help flush toxins out of the body. Nettle also helps protect the lining of the gut from irritation and inflammation. Drinking nettle leaf tea regularly will allow you to reap all of these great benefits from this herb.
4. Limit Sugar Intake
Eating foods that contain sugar severely reduces the body’s ability to fight off illness. Our white blood cells require Vitamin C in order to combat infections. Glucose (sugar) and Vitamin C have similar structures so the white blood cells can get them confused and bind to the glucose instead. This reduces the amount of Vitamin C in the white blood cells and causes them to be less effective. Therefore, when blood sugar levels are elevated the immune system’s ability to get rid of invading viruses and bacteria is decreased (4).
Sugar is so hard to avoid. It seems like it is lurking in almost all processed foods, even in foods that don’t taste sweet. Cooking meals at home with whole food ingredients is a great way to reduce excess sugar intake. I have a serious sweet tooth so cutting out sugar has always been difficult for me. I try my hardest to stay away from refined sugars and substitute maple syrup and honey to make healthier treats. Keeping your sugar intake to a minimum allows your body’s defenses to do the work needed to keep sickness at bay.
Probiotics enhance the health of the gut which as I mentioned earlier is an important part of a strong immune system. Adding good bacteria and helping to decrease inflammation in the gut are some of the benefits of probiotics. They also help to make the lining of the gut stronger which prevents bacteria from entering the bloodsteam.
It is important to take a good quality probiotic on a daily basis. This is the probiotic I use for myself and my children. My kids aren’t old enough to swallow the capsules so I just open them up and pour the powder onto a spoonful of applesauce.
Try some (or all!) of these great immune boosters to stay healthy this winter. Follow us on Facebook for more helpful tips on healthy living!
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