Top Foods and Herbs to Boost Immunity and Fight Infection

Mon, 08/01/2022 - 07:17

When we get sick, outside of an autoimmune condition, there is a pathogen responsible. Pathogens are organisms or agents that can produce disease. Things like bacteria, virus, parasite, fungi are the usual suspects.

While there are certain prescriptions your doctor can give you to fight these things off, like antifungals, antibiotics, and antivirals etc. not everything has an immediate solution with regard to a prescription and, on top of that, these medications often come with some pretty harsh side effects.

Ideally, your body would be healthy enough to fight off the infection on its own. And the key is to eat foods, herbs, and spices that support your immune system and have antimicrobial properties. There are of course other things you can do to help the body fight infection like hydration, sleep, stress management, and regular exercise, but for the purposes of this blog let's dial in on the nutrition component.

Below are some of the top foods, herbs, spices, and minerals that help the body do all of the aforementioned. I’m sure you’ve heard of some, especially considering what’s gone on the past couple of years, but I bet there are a few you aren’t aware of. Let’s take a look.  And at the end of the day if you just wanna make it easy on yourself you can utilize an immunity supplement so you don’t need to chew on raw garlic and pound oregano oil. Alaya Naturals Immunity Blend is made from all organic food based ingredients and is my personal go-to.

  • Garlic. This one works by boosting the number of your virus fighting T cells and supporting the immune cell function. The sulfur in garlic also helps your body absorb the trace element zinc, which is also an immunity booster. So, the combo can provide a double whammy! Garlic is best as raw as possible, chewed, diced, or minced to convert the alliin in garlic to allicin (the key component in garlic's immune boosting ability).
  • Zinc. Zinc plays an important role in keeping the immune system from overreacting. Maybe you remember the “cytokine storm” we were hearing about in the news during the first year of covid? That is an overreaction of our own immune system to a pathogen, which can end up being more harmful than the pathogen itself. So a balanced immune response is critical and this is where zinc is particularly helpful. In addition, zinc activates enzymes in the body that break down proteins in viruses and bacteria and also increases the activation of our immune cells. Foods rich in zinc are animal protein (chicken, seafood, beef, lamb, turkey, eggs, dairy etc.), and for the vegans in the house legumes contain zinc as well.
  • Ginger. Ginger has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to not only fight off some bacterial infections, but also help manage your immune systems inflammatory response to infection.
  • Oregano. Oregano oil in particular is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It has even been used to treat MRSA (which is a dangerous staff infection that shows resistance to traditional antibiotics). Plus, it’s an anti-inflammatory.
  • Liposomal Vitamin C. Vitamin C may not keep you from catching a cold, but there is a good body of evidence that suggests it can shorten the length of your cold or flu. One of the key factors is in how Vitamin C helps support the synthesis of hormones like norepinephrine and vasopressin, which are central to the cardiovascular response to severe infection. The reason you should opt for liposomal C if supplementing is because it is better absorbed than other C supplements. That said foods high in C like citrus, peppers, berries, acerola cherries are all excellent food sources of Vitamin C.
  • Elderberry. This is probably the most well-known on the list after the pandemic ravaged the globe. So, does it live up to the hype? Studies say it does. In a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, the researchers found that substances present in elderberries can stop a virus from entering and replicating in human cells. This is because “it inhibits the early stages of an infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells”, the scientists claim. And, it even proved effective at boosting our immune cells reaction to the attacking virus.
  • Moringa. Moringa is another antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial plant. This one is best in supplement form as finding moringa leaves to put in your salad might be tough.  

All in all, work to get these nutrients into your daily diet. If you feel you are starting to get sick consider a supplement to help concentrate these nutrients while your body is working to fend off infection. And remember, sleep, hydration, and stress management are critical and will go a long way in helping you stay healthy.