Build Your Seasonal Defenses

Written by our health and body care manager, Emily Kaster

We all possess a great ability to protect ourselves from viruses and diseases.  This amazing prevention system is our immune system and its function is to defend the body against invaders.  The immune system is extremely complex but its basic strategy is to recognize the enemy, mobilize forces, and attack the invader. 

 A strong immune system is the first line of defense against colds, the flu, and countless other viral and bacteria germs.  Building a strong immune system and working for prevention instead of curing helps your system to have the strength it needs to fight off all that comes its way.

The average American’s immune system is running on a 40-50% efficiency level at best.  In countries like Japan, people follow a traditional diet and eat to create a stronger immune system.  It's no coincidence that Japanese women are among the longest living people on the planet!  Remember, your best defense is diet and exercise; your daily choices are the true building blocks to a strong immune system!

Natural Ways to Boost the Immune System:

Deep Sleep
Moderate exercise
Reduce stress
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Do Yoga
Have regular exposure to the sun (take vitamin D and consider investing in a Happy Lamp)
Good Nutrition
Take Probiotics daily

Supplements to boost the Immune System:

Vitamin C:

Increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increase your levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surface, preventing the entry of viruses.  Vitamin C has antiviral and antibacterial activity and is beneficial in general immune system boosting.  It can assist the body in warding off colds, flu, healing wounds and fighting infection.  The human body does not make vitamin C so supplementation is important on a regular basis with an increase when symptoms appear. 

Consider taking a food based vitamin C for increased absorption such as:
Health Force Truly Natural vitamin C powder
Garden of Life My Kind Organics vitamin C organic spray
Megafood Complex C
Navitas Camu Powder
Talk to a Wellness employee to learn more about these and other great options the co-op carries!

Herbal Immune Boosters:

Herbs and plant oils are some of the oldest medicines.  Plant essences derived from herbs, seeds and leaves were the first medicines of our ancestors.  Here are a few, definitely not all:
Four Elements Immune Blend
Herb Pharm (various immune boosting formulas)
Herbs Etc. Loviral
Source Naturals Wellness Formula
Many amazing brands of Black Elderberry
Herbs Etc. Osha Root Cough Syrup
Herbs Etc. Phytocillin
Fire Cider!
These are just a few of the amazing immune system herbal formulas we carry. 

Green Powders and Supplement:

Adding immune-boosting greens to your diet is one of the most critical lifestyle changes you can make to your diet.  Three of the major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E and veggies are packed with them! They also contain zinc and selenium, which are also important to help keeping you healthy.  Of course adding more vegetables to your meals is key but there are many supplements and powders that pack many veggies, fruits, grasses and chlorella in a convenient, easy way to pack even more essential serving in! 

Here are a few great examples:

Herbs Etc. ChlorOxygen
Garden of Life Perfect Food
Spirulina
 

Vitamin D3:

Vitamin D has a remarkable role to play in your immune system health.  It enables your body to produce well over 200 antimicrobial peptides, which are so important in fighting off a wide range of infections.  Especially in our climate, it is nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunlight so it is imperative to supplement this essential vitamin.  Ask your doctor for a simple test to find out your vitamin D levels next time you see your physician to figure our proper dosage for you. 

Here are a few great options we sell, they vary in price widely so talk to your doctor or a member of our wellness staff to learn about the variety we carry:

Garden of Life My Kind Vitamin D3 spray
Garden of Life My Kind Vitamin D3 chewables
Linden Hills Coop Vitamin D3
Natural Factors Vitamin D3 drops
 

Medicinal Mushrooms:

Different types of mushrooms can be very beneficial to your immune system.  For the last 5,000 years Chinese herbalists have been processing mushroom for tonic immune support. 

Here are a few great options at the co-op:

Health Force Myco-Immunity
Host Defense many varieties
 

Probiotics:

Probiotic bacteria, which are living microorganisms that have beneficial effects on many aspects of human health, have mainly been studied on different gastrointestinal diseases and allergies with great results.  Many people do not realize that 80% of your immune system is in your digestive system so having a healthy gut is imperative to optimal health.  A healthy immune system is your number one defense against all disease.  The nutritional root of so many health concerns is related to an imbalance of intestinal bacteria.  Good bacteria play a crucial role in the operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive track. 

Here are a few examples of great probiotics we sell, but there are a lot more you may want to look at, head over to the wellness department for more information on specific products!

Garden of Life huge variety of many different formulas, some need refrigeration, some don’t
Megafood Megaflora
Renew Life, many great options
Cocokefir, local probiotic drink
GTs kombucha, in a variety of flavors
 

Hand Sanitizers:

The hand sanitizers at the co-op are a great option to help you ward off germs and are gentle to your skin.  Some of the options contain alcohol and some don’t.  Our options are gentle on sensitive skin, free of harsh chemicals, kid safe, never tested on animals, won’t sting cuts, leaves skin soft.

Great, affordable options we carry are:

Cleanwell, sprays, wipes and foaming pumps
EO, sprays, gel and wipes
Honest Company, gels and sprays

These are just a few options of great ways to naturally boost your immune system.  Always consult with your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking pharmaceutical drugs, pregnant or unsure if any of these options are right for you.  Please feel free to chat with any of our wonderful wellness staff for their opinion and insight on all the products we carry!  Be healthy!

If the cold and flu does catch you, herbs and supplements can help to ease your symptoms.

Apple Juice

Fresh, warm cider or juice can help ease fever

Ginger

Helps relieve chills, fever and headaches

Chamomile 

Calming, with anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects

Ginseng

Reduces fever, immune system support

Echinacea

Immune stimulant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory

Honey

Helps treat respiratory symptoms, eases cough and fever

Elderberry

Stimulates antibody production, reduces severity of symptoms and shortens duration

Lemon

Antiviral, kills germs and keeps viruses from spreading

Eucalyptus

Decongestant, antiviral and immune stimulating

Oregano Oil

Helps aid coughs and upper respiratory symptoms

Garlic

Reduce nasal congestion, ease upper respiratory symptoms, antiviral

Tea Tree Oil

May reduce flu symptoms and fever and fight infection, stimulates immune system