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January 22 2014

Natural Immune System Boosting Foods
With all the stresses to our bodies in these modern times, our immune systems are often the first casualty. Luckily, there are all sorts of natural things that can be done to boost the immune system.

Immune System Health in the Diet

One of the easiest ways to increase the efficacy and power of the immune system is choosing foods carefully. Many foods contain important nutrients to increase the number and strength of the various cells which help to fight off foreign infections. Vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids are of particular use to build immune system health. Some of the top sources for these nutrients are:

  • Guava, papaya, stawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, orange, grapefruit, and pineapple for vitamin C
  • Seeds, vegetable oils, and whole grains for vitamin E
  • Beef, oysters, crab, turkey (dark meat), and beans for zinc
  • Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro and fresh thyme for carotenoids
  • Citrus fruits, red and blue berries and grapes (esp. black grapes), onions, garlic and buckwheat for bioflavonoids
  • Cereals, nuts (esp. brazil nuts), legumes, beef, and tuna for selenium
  • Fish (esp. tuna), flaxseeds, walnuts, beans, winter squash, and olive oil for omega-3 fatty acids
In addition, a few foods contain a good balance of nutrients to boost the immune system in and of themselves. These include:
  • Garlic
  • Tuna
  • Pineapple
  • Yogurt
  • Lean Beef
  • Mushrooms
  • Green, Black and White Tea

Herbal Immune System Supplements

There is a whole host of herbal supplements that assist immune system health.

Perhaps the single strongest herbal immune system booster is astragalus. According to the National Geographic Desk Reference to Nature's Medicine by Steven Foster and Rebecca L. Johnson, there have been many studies, mainly in China, on the benefits of astragalus, which may include being a prophylactic against colds and upper respiratory infections, increasing the number and strength of white blood cells, and stimulating the production of antibodies and interferon, an agent that causes white blood cells to multiply or gather to fight infection.

In addition, according to Prescription for Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, astragalus is of particular use because while it boosts certain parts of the immune system (such as Natural Killer (NK) and T-helper cells), it actually suppresses others (such a B-cells and T-suppressor cells), making it suitable for those with autoimmune diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.

Other important herbs to include in the diet or as herbal supplements include:

  • Cat's Claw
  • Garlic
  • Ginseng
  • Echinacea
  • Eleuthero
  • European Elder
  • Goldenseal
  • Sage

Aromatherapy for Immune System Support

Aromatherapy, the use of essential oils, is an important aspect to consider among natural immune system boosters.

According to Aromatherapy for Women by Maggie Tisserand, this is especially important because "essential oils directly fight the virus or bacterial infection, encourage the body's recuperative powers and at no time compromise the immune system."

Most essential oils will help the body's overall immune system health in one way or another, but the top oils to help with the immune system response are:

  • Lavender
  • Tea Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Rosemary
A good general immune system stimulant can be made with two parts each tea tree, lavender, and bergamot, and one part sandalwood, combined in ten parts (or more) carrier oil. This can be applied topically, especially on the neck, chest and other gland areas when one needs to improve immune system response.

Another good aromatherapy formula to help with low immunity, especially to viral infections, can be made with equal parts vetiver, lavender, and geranium.



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