The immune system does a remarkable job of defending against disease-causing microorganisms, but its wise to do what you can to keep it functioning at its best. General healthy-living strategies like eating a diet rich in color fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and managing stress go a long way toward supporting immunity. But a few key supplements can help give your immune system a boost.
While vitamin C may not prevent the common cold, research finds that taking vitamin C regularly may help reduce a colds severity and duration. Several key immune system cells need vitamin C to function properly, and a deficiency of this vitamin may reduce resistance against certain pathogens. Vitamin C is available in foods like citrus, berries, peppers, and broccoli. Its also available as individual supplements and is commonly included in immune-support formulas.
Evidence suggests garlic may be a tasty way to prevent colds. In one study, people took garlic supplements or a placebo for 12 weeks during cold season. Those who took garlic had fewer colds than people who took the placebo. In addition, the people who did catch a cold saw their symptoms go away faster with a garlic supplement. Make fresh garlic part of your regular diet, and look for supplements containing aged garlic extract at your local natural market.
Oregano is another powerful defender of the immune system. Oil of oregano kills disease-causing bacteria and may also help the immune system fight viruses, fungi, and parasites. Look for oregano as part of an immune formula, and pick up the oil form as well; to fight a respiratory infection, add a drop of oregano oil in a bowl of steaming water. Loosely cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam once a day until you feel better.
Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, astragalus is an adaptogen, which means it protects the body against the effects of physical, mental, and emotional stress. Its often combined with other herbs to strengthen the body's defense against disease. Astragalus has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, and studies show that it stimulates the immune system, helping to prevent colds.
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