3 Immune-Boosting Supplements You Should Be Taking Right Now

August 18, 2021
improve immunity
Photo Credit: Valentina Barreto

Raise your hand if you got a summer cold this year? As we all started returning to our normal, pre-pandemic behaviors, i.e. seeing all the people, giving them much-needed hugs, and maybe being a tiny bit less vigilant about washing our hands, so many of us came down with something or other. And now that we’re in the back-to-school/back-to-work season, the risk of getting sick is definitely top of mind. Luckily, there are a handful of science-backed ways to improve immunity.

Try one (or all) or these tips and see if they make the difference. A few may seem obvious, but often it’s the simple things that matter the most.

1. Monitor your stress.

Ever noticed how you get sick at the most inconvenient time, like right before a big presentation at work or over the holidays? That’s because stress sabotages a healthy immune system and leaves you more vulnerable to infection.

“If you are chronically stressed or experiencing adrenal exhaustion, you have high cortisol and that is what decreases your immune system,” says Dr. Bindita Gandhi, integrative and functional medicine doctor and founder of Revive Atlanta MD. “Many of us get sick once or twice a year, but if you’re getting sick multiple times during cold and flu season, it’s likely that your stress levels are to blame.”

To combat chronic stress, try meditation, yoga, and journaling. And take an honest look at your schedule to see what responsibilities you might be able to cut down on.

Read More: 5 Super-Simple Ways to Combat Stress

2. Supplement for the season.

Not getting adequate amounts of certain nutrients has been linked to negative alterations in the immune system. “Nutrient deficiencies can create inflammation in your body and lead to you getting sick more often,” says Dr. Gandhi. If you fall victim to every cough, cold, and flu that goes around, it may be worth a trip to the doctor to get tested for nutrient deficiencies. Be sure to look into these immune-boosting supplements when your body needs a little extra support.

  • Vitamin C: Studies have shown that regular supplementation has a “modest but consistent” effect in reducing cold symptoms.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. On the flip side, supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to reduce your chance of colds and respiratory infections.
  • Quercetin: Quercetin has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. Translation: It has the potential to keep you healthy this winter in more ways than one. When taken daily, quercetin may reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections. It may also be beneficial for people with asthma or allergies to lower inflammation and keep the immune system in check.

3. Eat health-supporting foods.

Eating more health-supporting foods can help keep your immune system in fighting shape. In general, stick to colorful fruits and veggies, which are full of beneficial antioxidants. Then, focus on the following immune boosters:

  • Elderberry: If you think you might be fighting something, try an elderberry tea or syrup, like this one from Shire City Herbals. Research shows that elderberry, which is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, iron, B6, fiber, and beta-carotene, is an effective remedy for shortening the duration of flu- and cold-like symptoms.
  • Garlic: The main compound in aged garlic, called allicin, may enhance immune function to help fend off viruses like the common cold and flu. Studies have shown that garlic can not only prevent you from getting sick, it can also help you get better faster if you already are.
  • Ginger: You may have already noticed that ginger is a staple ingredient in most immune-boosting supplements and teas and there’s a good reason for that! Ginger influences the immune system response and activation of T-cells, which play a central role in our ability to respond to illness and infection. Studies have also shown that ginger displays antiviral activity against a virus called the human respiratory syncytial virus, a very common seasonal illness that causes cold-like symptoms.

4. Keep alcohol to a minimum.

Alcohol affects your body in myriad ways, including your immune system, According to Cleveland Clinic, “If you drink every day, or almost every day, you might notice that you catch colds, flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who don’t drink.”

So why is this? As they explain it: “This is because alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections.” Therefore, saying “no” to that glass of wine or beer — even if it’s just sometimes — is a great way to support your ability to fend of illness during the winter.

Read More: The Best Alcohol-Free Spirits to Try in 2021

improve immunity

Photo Credit: Irina Efremova

5. Pour another cup of tea.

Tea, which comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, is one of nature’s most incredible creations. And not just green tea! Black tea is also incredibly good for you and your immune system. In fact, as the authors of one study published in Nutrition Research concluded: “…there is evidence to suggest that [black] tea may have beneficial effects on certain immune parameters, which has implications for improving gut health and resistance against infections such as the common cold.”

…Excuse us while we whip up an Earl Grey latte.

6. Move your body.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly why or how exercises boost immunity — but they know that it does. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it may be because exercise helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways; or, it could be because physical activity boosts our white blood cell count. It may also work by way of reducing stress, which can make you more efficient at fighting infections.

And it doesn’t matter how you move your body either. Dance around the house, do a HIIT workout, or take a walk when the sun is out. It all counts!

7. Make sleep a priority.

Skimping on sleep is one of the worst things you can do for your immune system. According to Mayo Clinic, “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus.”

If you’re having trouble sleeping, Dr. Gandhi suggests leaning on natural remedies like magnesium and CBD oil. Even more importantly? Make sure you’re maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, which means you go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day.

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