Monday, December 7, 2015 / ... comments /

How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Tips for boosting your immune system to fight colds before they begin. 

Achooo! Cold season is in full swing. Kids in my girls' classrooms have runny noses and are coughing and I've felt a tickle in my throat a couple of times already. So far this year, however, my kids haven't gotten those coughs and runny noses. And I have been able to fight any viruses before they became colds. I used to think colds were inevitable and let them take their course, but now when I can tell my kids or I may be coming down with something, I think, "no problem - I'll just fight it." Here are my go-to immune boosters to prevent colds before they knock you down. If you have any to add, please let me know!


Probiotics are good bacteria that naturally live in the digestive tract. Gut health may be key to a strong immune system, as the good bacteria fight the bad bacteria. Processed foods, meat, sugar, antibiotics, and other foods can harm our gut health by destroying the good bacteria. You can add more of these "good guys" back in by taking probiotic supplements and foods, and thankfully probiotic foods are abundant (and tasty).

Yogurt is perhaps the most well-known probiotic food, but they are in other fermented foods like pickles and sauerkraut too. My girls love probiotic drinks like kombucha, and I usually take a mega-dose of probiotics in the form of Bio-K shots added to smoothies when I feel like I'm fighting a virus. My kids love ProBugs probiotic pops (so do I - they taste like the old school orange push ups!). I've seen probiotics make a world of difference with our immune systems.


The dark berries of European black elder (Sambucus nigra L.) have been used as a winter remedy for centuries. Elderberry juice was even used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995. Our whole family likes Sambucus Original Lozenges for an immune boost. You can find it at natural foods stores. It's also on Amazon, which may be easier for you to get. 


Studies have found that garlic can fight against bacteria and viruses. At the first sign of a cold, I eat a whole raw (peeled) clove of garlic. It's intense, but I do feel it works. Since there is no way my kids are going to eat a raw garlic clove, I make them guacamole or bruschetta with a lot of raw garlic. Odorless garlic capsules are also available if you're not a garlic lover. 

Vitamins from Foods 

 Nature provides all the vitamins we need. I head straight to the juice bar for a green juice when I am feeling down. Cruciferous veggies like kale and broccoli are especially good at fighting infection. A smoothie with frozen fruit and a handful of spinach is great too.

Soothing soup for a cold isn't just an old wives tale. Minestrone soup loaded with chopped veggies is my go-to when we are under the weather. I can't think of a better way to get a big dose of vitamins in one comforting bowl. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils are used for many reasons and ailments. Did you know you can use them to boost your immune system? Here's an immune boosting blend of Frankincense, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus, and Orange.  Here are 5 more detoxifying essential oils to boost immunity. You can add pure essential oil drops to a carrier oil and apply to the skin, or use in a diffuser.

Quit Sugar 
Sugar can wreak havoc on the immune system. According to Dr. Sears, "Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent." I can't help but cringe a little when I see a platter of cupcakes being brought into a classroom of sniffling kids - they simply don't deserve to have adults depressing their immune systems. 

Rest and De-Stress 
Lack of rest is known to trigger an inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation can in turn increase the chances of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and sickness. Scientists have found that your state of mind does in fact affect your health. Even without this research, I would have known this to be true. The times I actually come down with a full-blown cold are when I am emotionally run down and exhausted. I remember in college my friends and I would often get sick right after major exams. Be sure to take time to rest, de-stress, and practice mindfulness through yoga or meditation.

Disclaimer: Recipes, wellness tips and nutrition advice are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose, or treat any medical issues. All blog content is for entertainment purposes only. Always consult with your doctor about your personal health. Always do your own research on products and companies before using a product you find on the internet. 
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