It’s not easy to focus on the things you want to do if you are constantly suffering from stuffy nose, coughs and colds. Sport, outdoor activity, work, school, and children – all can be difficult to cope with. Sometimes chronic sinus conditions can be caused by allergies, so always rule this out, particularly if there is a regular pattern to the symptoms. For those with non-allergy related symptoms and a constant run down feeling, the culprit may be a weak immune system.
The immune system protects the body against infection, and is one of the most complex systems in the body. Strengthening immune system function is an important part of building resistance to disease and reducing frequency and longevity of coughs, colds and flu’s. If you suffer from more than 2 colds per year, catch a cold easily, get frequent cold sores, athlete’s foot, or swollen lymph glands, boosting your body’s innate immune function can help.
Digestion and Immune Function
It’s interesting to note that the digestive system is a critical component of immunity. There have been studies showing a link between healthy bacteria in the digestive tract and stronger response from T-cells, part of the immune system ‘army’. Vitamins and minerals which support immune system function are also absorbed through the intestinal wall. Digestive difficulties such as chron’s, celiac, ulcers, and GERD negatively affect the body’s ability to absorb those nutrients and compromise immunity.
Try these Natural Immune System Boosters
Vitamin C – this well studied nutrient strengthens mucus membranes, skin, and is a component of connective tissue – including the protective mucosal layer of the lung. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin; any excess is eliminated through the urine. Good sources of vitamin C in the diet include: parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, strawberries, oranges, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts. To have a therapeutic effect for a cold, diet may not be enough – 500mg Vitamin C every 2 hours is recommended, up to 5000mg per day, until symptoms are gone. (If diarrhea is present, reduce dosage by 500mg daily until it disappears.)
Bioflavonoids – a natural component of many fruits, they are responsible for the reds, oranges, purples in fruits and vegetables. Apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans are all high in bioflavonoids. Vitamin C supplements often contain bioflavonoids.
Zinc – zinc supports taste and smell, helps balance blood sugar, and it can boost immune system function. There aren’t many foods with high amounts of zinc – mushrooms, venison, spinach, yogurt, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Zinc supplements can also help, a small dose of 20-30mb daily is enough. Always take with food as it can cause nausea.
Every person is unique, one size does not fit all – Approach supplementation with caution and discuss with a health care professional.
Sources for this article include:
- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Murray and Pizzorno