I’m just going to come right out and say it: fall colds are the WORST. I don’t know what it is about the changing seasons, but every single year, the warmth goes away and my immune system goes with it. Over the years, I’ve tried so many remedies, from supplements to essential oils. Finally, I’ve found the 12 best ways to boost immunity using the most natural tools ever – FOOD! Don’t worry about having to go on a witch hunt for the ear hair of a black cow or anything weird, because you can find all of these remedies in the grocery store. Let’s jump in!
Oats contain a fiber called “beta-glucan”, which carries antimicrobial/antioxidant properties that help to boost the cells that fight infection. They also contain zinc, which helps the infection-fighting cells grow + function!
Garlic is a true earth-given antibiotic, thanks to its primary compound “allicin.” When you cut garlic open, allicin is what you smell, and what gives garlic its true flavor. It can fight the broadest spectrum of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, but only when its fresh (so that creepy jar of chopped garlic that sits on grocery store shelves doesn’t count). It activates each component of your cellular immune system, and has been shown to improve conditions like chronic diarrhea, candida, herpes, and sinus infections!
Ginger contains “gingerol”, which is responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects. Gingerol boosts your immune system to lower your risk of infection, also helping with nausea, muscle soreness, indigestion, and respiratory infections!
Black and green tea contain an amino acid called “L-theanine”, which helps fight viruses by boosting T-cell activity (T cells are your immune cells)! Green tea also contains “EGCG”, a powerful antioxidant that enhances immune function.
Probiotics keep your gut bacteria healthy, helping fight diseases at the cellular level. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are often the best source of natural probiotics, but kefir, tempeh, yogurt, and miso are a few other ways to naturally consume them! When in doubt, there are always probiotic supplements.
Dear lord, kombucha’s the best. I have an entire blog post dedicated to all of its benefits here. However, in terms of immunity, kombucha is an antibacterial and an antioxidant all in one, containing probiotics to fortify your good gut bacteria against the bad gut bacteria (like Candida) in your intestines.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
My bottle of ACV is my pride and joy. I also have an article on why I love this here. ACV is so acidic (obviously, it’s vinegar), that germs cannot survive in its environment. It’s incredibly high in potassium, so it helps to thin mucus out, letting your sinuses drain even easier. So drink it, gargle it, cook with it, do what you have to do. (Just don’t swish it around in your mouth, because that will ruin your enamel lol.)
Coconut oil is another fantastic antibiotic. It has a fatty acid component called “lauric acid”, which, when digested, can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Cook with it or take a tsp every morning! I give it to my pup as a natural antibiotic to keep his gut healthy.
Orange vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and pumpkin contain beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps your skin maintain a strong barrier against bacteria – skin is your biggest organ, so you have to take care of that baby! Also, the fiber in sweet potatoes can help fight the growth of foodborne bacteria! Please just don’t use that as an excuse to eat raw cookie dough.
DARK LEAFY GREENS / AVOCADOS
Dark leafy greens + avocados have vitamin A, C, and E! These vitamins boost the immune response, while Vitamin E is also a very strong antioxidant, helping fight free radicals responsible for aging/cancer.
Oranges, or any other citrus fruits like grapefruits, lemons, and limes, contain a very high amount of Vitamin C! Vitamin C helps increase the production of white blood cells so that your body can fight infection. So pump that orange juice + lemon water, because it’s white blood cell season, kiddos.
Honey is an anti-bacterial and an anti-fungal! WAHOO! It reduces cough and throat irritation, strengthens the immune system, and also serves as a subtle probiotic. Manuka honey can actually stimulate the production of immune cells, and even though it’s a tad expensive, it’s worth investing in your health!