Nourish - Support Your Immune System Now with These 5 Things
The immune system is our body’s greatest barrier against unwanted pathogens, viruses, bacteria, infections and toxins.
When trying to combat any sickness, a healthy immune system is an absolute must, but keeping it strong can sometimes be difficult.
That’s especially the case in modern-day times when we’re bombarded with stressors from every angle, whether physical, emotional or environmental.
Having a healthy diet, proper sleep, regular exercise, and making healthy lifestyle choices really do make all the difference!
In this blog post, we’re going to cover a 5 alternative immunity replenishing and supportive herbs and foods to further strengthen your immune system that go a little outside the usual suggestions.
No. 1 – Astragalus
Astragalus is one of the great tonic herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been traditionally used for centuries to cultivate a healthy circulatory system, enhance surface and deep immunity, protect against mental and physical stress, bring down inflammation, tonify the liver and boost vitality.
It’s especially good for the lungs, helps to move out catarrh, and is also protective and anti-inflammatory.
Astragalus contains three important components that really work to our advantage, including flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides. These offer natural antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
How do I take it?
- Try Terranova, where it is combined with the fantastic immune-supportive herbs elderberry and garlic.
- Try Irish Botanica All Seasons Complex which is a botanical blend of natural ingredients including Astragalus, Angelica and peppermint.
- Solgar Astragalus in capsules.
No. 2 – Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is the root extract of Withania Somnifera, also known as Winter Cherry or Indian ginseng.
This phenomenal herb is used in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional system of medicine from India. They used it to help increase vitality, energy, endurance and stamina, promote longevity, strengthen the immune system and offers incredible anti-stress properties.
Since ashwagandha is an adaptogenic, meaning it helps protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress, it is especially well suited to today’s hectic lifestyle.
Stress itself, whether physical or psychological, has an immunosuppressing effect, therefore it is essential to keep on top of it through lifestyle, diet and herbal practices.
Ashwagandha has immunomodulating effects that help boost the immune system and also help the body lower its cortisol levels. Combine it with other calming and supportive herbs such as Rhodiola, reishi, Siberian ginseng, chamomile or skullcap.
How do I take it?
For more info on Ashwagandha, check out my previous blog here on What’s the Scoop on Ashwagandha.
No. 3 – Medicinal Mushrooms
I know that often people think mushrooms are what you add to a pizza or make a tasty soup out of, but there’s more to mushrooms than meets the eye. And although these mushrooms are pretty magical in their abilities, I’m not talking the magical kind here either.
These fungi friends of ours offer so much in the way of immune system support and are one of my personal favourites.
These mushrooms offer fantastic antiviral properties which help the body to fight off viruses (specifically against common viral infections such as the flu). They also contain beta-glucans. These are known for their ability to modulate the immune system by boosting it when needed or slowing it down if too much activity is taking place.
Regulate and Support the Immune System
These mushrooms help to regulate the body’s immune system to protect it from harmful pathogens, like viruses, parasites and bacteria, helping to defend you against any nasty bugs or viruses going around.
They also help improve our bodies natural ability to fight invaders.
With the cold and flu season in full swing (and let’s not forget the elephant in the room here.. or should I say virus in the room?), medicinal mushrooms are definitely a fantastic supplement/food to be consuming regularly.
Medicinal mushrooms like chaga, reishi, cordyceps and lions mane are also powerful adaptogens that work with the body, helping it to adapt to the stresses of life and needs of each day, modulating the immune system and stress response along the way. As we mentioned earlier, stress can be a total killer to the immune system.
How do I take it?
- We stock Four Sigmatic mushrooms, Irish Botanicals and Om Organic mushrooms.
- If you’re lucky and you’re able to find them, grab yourself some shitake mushrooms and make a delicious stew, curry or broth. They’re fantastic!
No. 4 – Fermented Foods
Did you know that your gut is where roughly 80% of your immune system actually is?
Now it probably makes more sense as to why I’ve added fermented foods into a blog post about immunity!
With your immune system taking up quite an established residence in your gut, it makes sense that making sure you’ve got plenty of good bacteria in there will ensure you’re better equipped to deal with any bad bacteria heading your way.
Improves Microbiome Diversity
The digestive tract is teeming with some 100 trillion bacteria and other microorganisms, and more and more research is being done that reveals the importance of the gut on the immune system.
In particular, research is finding that a diverse and healthy intestinal microbiome (the microorganisms in your gut) is essential for optimal immune health. This is because it plays such an important role in helping to break down food, synthesise various nutrients, keep harmful substances from entering the body, and even strengthen your immune system.
How do I take it?
Ferments or fermented foods are foods that have been transformed by the growth and metabolic activity of living microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast and even moulds. They include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, miso soup, tempeh and cultured dairy such as kefir, natural yoghurt and some cheeses.
As these living microorganisms travel through the digestive tract when ingested with fermented foods, they get to work supporting the trillions of microbes already living in the gut which ultimately results in a thriving community of microbes.
I have covered gut health and fermented foods in more detail in my previous blogs
Click here to read about the importance of fermented foods in more detail and here to read the benefits of fermentation and get a delicious sauerkraut recipe. Check them out for some recipe tips and further information!
No. 5 -Turmeric
Turmeric is the herb that just keeps on giving. Immune support, check! Cardiovascular support, check! Anti-inflammatory support, check!
This herb is absolutely amazing and offers an overabundance of amazing health and healing properties. It’s antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and loaded with nutrients. This makes it a wonderful tonic for anything from gastroenteritis through to arthritis, colds and flu and even menstrual cramps.
How do I take it?
A lot of people get nervous when you say to eat turmeric because they don’t like curry or spicy foods, or they don’t want to eat them every day, but that’s ok! You can take turmeric in capsule form, tea, lattes, vinegar, dressings, dips and more!
- Maybe some Pukka Turmeric gold latte or Sonnentor Turmeric Vanilla Latte with some Oatly Barista for a nutritious warm latte.
- Experiments with Turmeric Merchant Whole Root Turmeric Paste as the base to a soup, curry, dhal, stir fry or anything else you want to boost with turmeric!
- Use Golden Ghee to fry off your onions or add to a hot beverage. Ghee is clarified butter commonly used in India as a traditional cooking medium and Ayurvedic preparation.
- Add some Turmeric Powder to smoothies, curries, stews, soups, homemade hummus recipes and more!
- Swig some Fire Cider – I tried to make a blog post without mentioning this, but it’s just so darn good for you I couldn’t do it! See my previous blog here for the recipe.
For more in-depth info on additional ways to support your immune system check out my previous blog posts below so you can supercharge your immune system 🙂
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.