Dr. Marita Schauch with Elderberries

The following are my top immune boosters for the cold and flu season.

1. Fruits & Vegetables

Healthy dietary choices help immensely to combat or even prevent a cold or flu. Choose a multitude of colours in your produce to ensure a balance of vitamins and minerals. For example: yellow (squash), orange (carrots/oranges), green (spinach/kale), and red (pomegranate/tomatoes). Aim for 5–8 half-cup servings per day. Include herbs and spices in cooking, such as ginger, thyme, oregano, and garlic to boost your immune system to fight winter viruses. Also ensure that you’re getting adequate protein and stick to a diet low in refined sugars and processed foods. At the first signs of a cold or flu, I increase my intake of garlic, gargle with warm salt water and drink plenty of herbal tea – served with fresh lemon, organic honey and ginger.

2. Adrenal Support

Adrenal support and stress busting herbs are critical to help get stress under control and aid in the recovery of a weakened immune system. Choose all-natural AdrenaSense®, a blend, which includes well researched herbs such as rhodiola, ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, and schisandra berries.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects against infection and enhances immunity. Vitamin C works by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies, which both help fight off infection. Typical dosages start at 1000 mg daily but can be increased depending on bowel tolerance. Some vitamin C sources include citrus fruits, strawberries, papaya, kiwi, broccoli, red pepper, and Brussels sprouts.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that work in the intestinal tract. They fight pathogenic infections and promote recovery from infections by stimulating the production of antibodies.

5. Zinc

Zinc is the most important immune-system mineral, as it helps bolster a weakened immune system. Studies have shown that a zinc deficiency can reduce counts of white blood cells and platelets (the blood cells involved in clotting), and increase susceptibility to infection.

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, has powerful immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and bone-supportive properties. Typical dosages start at 1000 IU/daily, but can be increased depending on the condition being treated or how vulnerable your immune system may be.

7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential immune boosters, as they increase the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. These fats also help strengthen cell membranes, thereby speeding up healing and enhancing the body’s resistance to infection.

8. Echinacea

Echinacea (E. purpurea, E. angustifolia) has been used for centuries by European and Native American healers. It is frequently combined with other immune-boosting plants such as goldenseal. Ongoing research shows that echinacea’s active constituents stimulate the immune system to fight viral infections. Echinacea is also recommended in cases of laryngitis, cold sores, tonsillitis, and sinusitis. I tell my patients to look for ECHINAMIDE®, in liquid or softgels. The echinacea in ECHINAMIDE is certified organic and clinically proven to help fight off infections.

9. Astragalus

Astragalus (A. membranaceus) is becoming as popular as echinacea for combatting the flu and supporting the immune system. It is beneficial whenever immune resistance is low or dysfunctional due to stress. It has been shown to be effective against infections of all types, but particularly respiratory infections, colds and flu.

10. Elderberry

Elderberry is often used for its antioxidant activity, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health, and for coughs, colds, flu, and both bacterial and viral infections.

11. Oil of Oregano

Oil of Oregano is a favourite among my patients. Begin use at the first sign of a running nose, sore throat, cold or infection. I recommend Natural Factors Organic Oil of Oregano, in softgels or liquid. Natural Factors uses gentle steam distillation to ensure purity and potency.

In closing, something I share with my patients is do your best to put a stop to the stress response chain reaction! When it comes to preventing every-day stress from becoming chronic and leading to immune illness, you aren’t powerless. There are many things you can do to live a healthier life and keep your immune system strong, even when stress is making you feel anything but serene!