Tis the season for bugs, sniffles and colds! And not gonna lie, we’re feeling it over here with two toddlers running around and passing along the germs they pick up from who-knows-where. So I’ve been paying *extra* attention to NATURAL ways to boost our immune systems— all of us— so we can stay feeling our best and keep our bodies healthy.
The thing is, there are plenty of natural ways to boost the immune system, from kids to adults, that are SO simple, that they’re often overlooked or underestimated. That are such basics, like eating real foods and hydrating like crazy, but so many people are looking for the “quicker” or sexier fix (nasal sprays, pills, intense chemically based supplements, etc) that look good on a package… but don’t really do much to address the root cause of the problem.
So let’s talk about the SUPER simple, back-to-the-basics ways that anyone can boost their immune system for the upcoming cold + flu season, starting now!
5 things you can do to naturally boost your immune system:
01. Eating mostly REAL food:
This is the one people want to avoid talking about, but it’s the one with the most impact. Eating mostly real food, 95% of the time. Real food is powerful food. It’s nutrient dense, and per bite can give your body MORE of what it needs, than anything else including preventative medicines and synthetic vitamins. Without it, your body is trying to do its job, but without the tools it actually needs to support it. Nothing can substitute for a real food diet consisting of plenty of leafy greens, fresh veggies, beans/legumes and basically all fresh foods from the earth with no processing or added preservatives.
02. Avoiding extra sugar, alcohol and inflammatory foods:
Okay, this is the one people want to avoid talking about, but it’s true, part 2. Avoiding extra sugar, alcohol and inflammatory foods like processed foods, gluten, a lot of dairy, etc. is so key to a stronger immune system. Listen, I’m not about being extreme, but if your immune system tends to go down a lot in the fall and winter months, it might be a good idea to stay extra intentional about this piece. It’s actually huge. Pick the things you love, in moments that mean something, instead of daily habits on autopilot (aka having a glass of wine every single night to “wind down” (read this post for 7 creative swaps for a nightly glass of wine!). This can make such a huge difference overall.
03. Working on healing your nervous system:
And having little routines you do everyday to help. Your nervous system is the one that gets so deeply affected by stress— both chronic and day to day life. And in today’s world, our nervous systems truly take such a beating with the pace of our everyday lives.
When your body is stressed (or your mind is full of thoughts that stress you out), it pumps out cortisol and spikes other hormones in your adrenal glands, which can put all your hormones out of whack and make you exhausted if you’re always running on fumes.
So, start taking more mindful care of your nervous system (every day) with practices that help it re-regulate and come back to a grounded state. Some ideas: meditation, yoga, a long epsom salt bath, reading, breathing, infrared saunas, acupuncture, walking or spending time in nature or listening to binaural beats. I try to do something every day to heal and protect my nervous system, especially in the fall and winter with so much going on. And in this more hectic life season. 🙂
04. Washing your hands with soap:
Are we sick of it yet? Maybe. But it’s one of the most simple, cheap and effective things you can do. In our house I have a rule that everyone has to wash their hands anytime we come in from an activity, adventure, school, etc.
05. Food-based supplements or real foods with natural immune-boosting properties:
There ARE certain nutrients that help boost your immune system: things like vitamin C, zinc, elderberry, propolis, honey, thyme, etc. These things work best when used frequently and preventively, vs. after it’s too late. So think of your immunity like a house you’re building: every day you add some reinforcements, so that when you are exposed to daily viruses, bacterias and germs, your body has such a better chance at fending it off. And quickly.
Here are some of my go-tos for immune-boosting, real-food supplements and foods:
- Spirulina in smoothies, chlorophyll drops in water, magnesium before bed, vitamin d drops every other day
- Chlorella tablets with nut butter or smoothies (I like this brand)
- Warming spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, and warming soups like lentil, veggie and split pea all have antifungal properties in the gut, so they can be very immune healing & boosting foods
- Beekeepers honey (which includes propolis and bee pollen too for an extra boost), immune support throat spray & kids throat spray, kids natural cough syrup for daytime & nighttime— I get all of these from this brand and it is truly the best (save 20% with code ‘SIMPLYREALHEALTH’ at checkout)
- Liquid Vitamin D (great for kids too, just a lesser dose)
- Magnesium (a nervous system relaxer) I like this one, the taste isn’t great but man does it WORK— I sleep great and sleep is sooo important for the immune system
- Zinc— most people are deficient (I like this liquid, I mix it with my nightly magnesium powder or tablets)
- Elderberry syrup or tinctures (for kids too)
All of these are a part of my natural medicine cabinet for our household. Many of which I use daily or multiple times a week in the fall and winter seasons. You can also check out this post for even more ideas to improve your immune system in the fall!
Want to work more real, health-boosting foods into your meal routine?
Come take a peek at SRH: The Shop and snag our Green Smoothie Guide with 20+ smoothie ideas for under $10, or the Fall Meal Plan with 4 weeks of fully mapped out (easy & healthy) recipes with a schedule and printable grocery lists to make eating healthy, seasonal and nourishing foods easier than ever!
photo by Carina Skrobecki // this post contains affiliate links