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Healthy You

6 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 7:48 AM

You probably already hear it when you are out and about – the coughing, sneezing and throat clearing. Colder temperatures bring more sickness. Fight off sickness by keeping your immune system strong. Not a fan of medicine? That’s okay, because there are proven ways to boost your immune system naturally.

Geeta Maker-Clark, MD, Integrative Family Medicine at NorthShore, shares her go-to immunity boosters:

  1. Fresh garlic. Garlic is an ancient cold remedy. It is a very potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. A clove of garlic can be chopped raw, left to sit for 10 minutes and mixed with honey. There are not any side effects with garlic – other than intense breath.
  2. Zinc. Some evidence proves zinc is effective for lessening cold symptoms. A simple solution is a zinc lozenge, which soothes the throat.
  3. Salt water. This is more of a comfort measure, but gargling salt water helps reduce throat swelling because the salt brings the water out of the tissues. Try gargling once every hour with a teaspoon of sea salt in water.
  4. Black elderberry extract. There is evidence that shows it can reduce the length of flu symptoms. The extract can be taken straight, as a syrup or as a tea.
  5. Echinacea. Studies have shown that Echinacea extract increases the number of white blood cells – which fights infection – and can shorten the duration of a cold.
  6. Hydration. Staying hydrated decreases the likelihood that you will have entryways for viruses to get in. Small cracks in mucous membranes are how viruses enter our system. If you are hydrated, those membranes do not crack, which prevents viruses from entering. When flying this holiday season, start hydrating the day before and day of your travels to keep yourself protected from increased exposure to germs.

How do you keep your immunity in tip-top shape?