First let's start with a few simple ways to boost the immune System before we get to the herbs and veggies.
1- More and more studies are exploring the link between our immune system and our gut. The good bacteria (microbiota) that live and thrive in our gut play a major role in the strength of our immune system. To keep the healthy flora in tip-top shape, get probiotics from fermented foods like kimchi, miso, yogurt, and kombucha. Research indicates that probiotics improve the immune response and increase production of immune cells.
2-Focus on Fiber. Prebiotic fiber is the specific type of food that keeps the gut bacteria happy and healthy. When bacteria ferment this fiber in our gut, short chain fatty acids are released. Studies show that these short chain fatty acids play a role as immuno-modulators and increase the production of T-regulatory cells, which help to regulate other immune cells and the immune response. Translation? Eating plenty of prebiotic fiber from artichokes, onion, garlic, asparagus, bananas, and jicama will actually help give your immune system that extra boost we need during the cold and flu season.
3-Ditch the spoonful of sugar! Evidence suggests that simple sugars such as cookies, sweetened beverages, and many highly processed foods are serious killers to white blood cells’ defense mechanisms to guard the body from foreign invaders. Yet another reason to reduce sugar intake and opt for whole fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth most of the time.
4-Get some Sun or vitamin D, that is. Studies show that vitamin D is a major immune system regulator that plays a role in the expression and activation of several types of immune cells. Those with low vitamin D levels are also more likely to get sick. Be sure to get at least 15 minutes of SPF-free sun exposure, and consume vitamin D rich food sources like cod liver oil and oily fish like salmon and herring.
5-Spice it up! Spices and roots such as turmeric, clove, coriander, and ginger have been shown to act as anti-inflammatory agents, improve the immune system response, increase antibodies, and act as an antibacterial agent in the body. Spices couldn’t be easier to incorporate into your diet. Use them whenever you are cooking to add a boost of flavor. Make your own immune-boosting spice mix so you always have it on hand.There’s a good reason why Oil of Oregano has become such a popular herbal remedy, as oregano is highly antibacterial against Staphylococcus strain bacteria as well as Salmonella and E. coli. With immune stimulating properties, Oregano is also a potent diaphoretic, gently supporting a fever during our immune response to infection.
Rosemary: While this herb is most commonly associated with strengthening memory, it is also strongly antiviral, antibacterial, antispasmodic and diaphoretic. Useful during colds and flus, rosemary helps to relieve fevers and increase immunity against respiratory infections.
Sage: Many varieites of Sage contain thujone and this herb is an expectorant as well as being antimicrobial, antibacterial, astringent and antiseptic. It’s useful as a home-remedy as a tea or gargle and is beneficial in cases of tonsilitis, bacterial pneumonia or laryngitis.
Thyme: Nicolas Culpeper praised thyme as a lung tonic for children with respiratory infections (particularly whooping cough) and this herb is well-known as an antiseptic, antispasmodic and expectorant, useful in bacterial chest infections and for soothing chesty coughs.
Bay: Another fabulous diaphoretic, this herb has also traditionally been used as an analgesic and a herbal specific for bronchitis and colds and flus.
Onion: Rich in aromatic compounds (like allicin sulphur compounds) and quercetin, onions are highly antimicrobial, antispasmodic and powerful expectorants. Particularly useful in respiratory infections, onions also contain high amounts of fructans, prebiotics that feed your good gut bacterial to promote healthy immune system function.
Garlic: Contains high amounts of sulphur compounds (allicin) and like onion is strongly antimicrobial. Garlic is particularly useful in viral infections, as it directly stimulates immune system cells to fight against viruses such as colds and influenza.
Immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial in action, black pepper has been shown to be inhibitory against various bacterial strains including E. coli and Staphyloccuss spp.
High in the immune-boosting vitamin C is bell peppers. Red bell peppers have the most vitamin C of all varieties, and all bell peppers also have lots of phytochemicals and carotenoids, like beta-carotene, which are chock full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Plus, peppers can help clear out congested mucus membranes in the nose and lungs, helping you eliminate the toxins and disease-causing components of your cold or flu faster!Spinach:
is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold and flu and bolster the immune system. That’s not all it has, though. It’s also high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, like peppers, which may help our immune system fight infection and viruses easier. An interesting fact about spinach is that its nutrients are best retained when the vegetable is raw, so try enjoying spinach in a delicious salad rather than in your stir fry for the most immune benefits.3
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that comes in many colours and is low in calories, but mighty high in nutrients, including vitamin C—of which it has about 37mg per 100g of cabbage. And vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to immunity! While raw it is very healthy for you, cabbage is even better for your immune system and digestive tract when it’s fermented in the form of sauerkraut or kimchi. Fermented foods heal your gut lining and digestion, and your gut houses 70% of your immune system cells, meaning fermented foods boost your immunity, too.Ginger:
It is one of the best spices when it comes to boosting immunity and is loaded with various other health benefits. It helps boost your metabolism and only a cup of ginger tea or ‘kadha‘ made out of ginger can help to kick out infections like flu, cough and cold that are very common during monsoon.
Also known as tulsi, this magical herb has many health and medicinal benefits, enabling you to keep monsoon-related diseases at bay.
This herb promotes healthy immune response and supports early recovery from respiratory illness. It also provides relief from chest congestion by dilating the airways in the lungs.
Well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, turmeric works wonder in improving your immunity, thereby keeping the diseases at bay.
This is one of the best spices that cure diseases in the rainy season. Asafoetida, popularly known as hing, is said to have anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-viral properties that can help boost the immunity system.
Fennel boosts the metabolism, which will help you to burn fat more quickly. One of the most popularly used spice and an after- meal refreshment, fennel seeds (Saunf in Hindi) are widely used in Indian cuisines. Saunf also protects the digestive tract lining thus reducing spasms and aiding in digestion.
Cinnamon has abundant health benefits – from lowering blood glucose levels to reducing heart risk factors. The spice, which is a high source of antioxidants, can help treat a sore throat, colds and cough.