by Cassandra Krug

How do I boost my immunity?

At home, you can boost your immune system by living a healthy lifestyle. Put simply, eat a clean diet rich in fruits and vegetables (eat the colors of the rainbow), exercise regularly, avoid smoking and drinking in excess, and control your stress levels. It also helps to avoid sugar and processed foods. If you feel like your diet lacks some of these vital nutrients, you can add in vitamins and supplements or focus on foods that are nutrient rich. Some of these vitamins and minerals are: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Magnesium. I also recommend a daily probiotic to support your gut health and digestion and a teaspoon of elderberry syrup, a natural anti-viral. Some foods and spices I like to reach for include: turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and green onions. These herbs have various properties such as anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, warming, and “venting” (causing you to sweat). I also think that a custom Chinese herbal formula can keep your body functioning optimally so that your immune system is ready to respond. Should you be at a place of prevention, or if you are having allergies, feeling run down, or perhaps coming down with something more acute, please call us ; we can consult with you via Telehealth.

Here are some suggestions:

Vitamin C increases blood antioxidant levels to help fight free radicals and decrease inflammation. Foods rich in Vitamin C include: guava, kiwi, pomelo, grapefruits, oranges, strawberries, papaya, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and bell peppers.

Vitamin D helps our intestinal tract to absorb other vitamins and minerals, which may be excreted without it. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and supports bone and cardiovascular health. Sunlight is a great way to get your daily Vitamin D. Foods that are high in Vitamin D include fish (especially salmon), mushrooms exposed to sunlight (especially cremini, and portabella). Tip: you can put your mushrooms in the sun for 20 minutes to increase their Vitamin D levels.

Zinc is important for metabolism, immune system function, and wound healing. Foods rich in zinc include red meat, eggs, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, cashews, and almonds.

Magnesium is needed for almost every cell in our body. It will benefit your nervous system, musculoskeletal system, and cardiovascular health. It also helps support energy production, glucose metabolism and more. When your body functions optimally, your immune system will too. Foods rich in magnesium include avocados, brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, black beans, chickpeas, flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds, buckwheat, quinoa, salmon, bananas, kale, spinach, and collard greens.

Probiotics support your immune system by nourishing your gut with good bacteria so that when bad bacteria enters your body it is eliminated because it has nowhere to grow.

Similar to Vitamin C, elderberry syrup is full of antioxidants and can help your body to decrease inflammation to support a strong immune system. When I’m cooking in the kitchen I like using turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger to help support a strong digestive tract, and green onions, garlic, oregano, sage, basil, rosemary, and fennel for their anti-viral properties. In addition, you can talk to your acupuncturist or herbalist about a custom Chinese Herb formula that works best for you. You can use Chinese Herbs in all stages of disease including prevention! Astragalus and ginseng are two herbs we frequently use to tonify or boost your qi (life force) to maintain a strong immune system. They help with prevention, but you would avoid these during a time when you are sick.

The beauty of acupuncture and Chinese herbs is we treat you at each stage of dis-ease and change both point prescriptions and herbs based on the changes in your illness. A good example is a cough that turns from phlegmy and productive would require different herbs than a dry, non-productive cough.

If you start with a strong, healthy immune system, our hope is your symptoms of illness would be less. As Thomas Edison said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Focus on eating healthy at least eighty percent of the time. The healthier you eat, the more your body will crave nutritious food.