Boost Your Immune System With Antiviral Foods
How does a person stay away from the more than 400 different viruses that cause infection? The best way is to use antiviral herbs and foods to help your body fight back successfully and quickly. Four of my favorite antiviral “superfoods” are found in this post.
This year we’ve been bombarded with news reports, signs and advertisements to jump on board the flu shot train and get the annual influenza vaccination. The only problem with this is that it’s only 80 percent effective with all the strains that are out there. Not only are these new strains mutating, but the vaccinations often contain dangerous chemicals that “educate” your immune system in unnatural ways.
Fortunately, there are better, more powerful, natural alternative to strengthen your immune system and reduce inflammation so your body can fight off infections. Prevention is much better than dealing with the aftermath.
What is a virus?
As defined, a virus is a small infectious agent that can only replicate inside the living cells of other organisms. Viruses can infect all types of living organisms. They are considered the most abundant type of biological entity and found in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Viruses can also be categorized by their unique shapes and sizes.
In your body, these germs reproduce by hijacking the cells of their host. In fact, because they can’t make their own proteins, they are dependent on their host to survive. This makes them the only microorganisms we know of that can’t reproduce without a host cell. As a result, they can have one effect on one type of organism and have a different effect on another. For instance, a cat may get a virus but not a dog.
Viruses do their dirty work by infecting cells. Then they continue to reproduce by making more viral proteins and genetic materials. This puts viruses in a classification of “parasite” because they don’t produce the typical cellular products.
We don’t have cures for viruses and they can spread in numerous ways—blood-sucking insects, coughing, sneezing, poor sanitation, sexual contact, infected blood, food, and water. The problem with viruses is that they don’t respond to antibiotics, and vaccinations are unpredictable.
Using antiviral herbs and food as alternatives
Fortunately, there are a number of antiviral herbs and foods that inhibit the development of viruses. The best part is that they boost your immune system without cautions or side effects! In order for your body to successfully fight off viral pathogens, it needs to be strong and ready BEFORE viruses attack it. This approach is so much better than trying to attack specific pathogens that mutate and then become less susceptible to antiviral drugs.
I want to share with you four natural antiviral foods that boost your immune system AND provide many other health benefits as well. I know you probably already have some of these in your kitchen right now.
Who would think a berry would have such antiviral capabilities, but this one has a long history of medicinal benefits. Elderberry naturally fights infections like all influenza viruses, including A and B, herpes and even bacterial and viral infections. The bark, flowers, roots and even leaves of the elderberry can be used for amazing health benefits. They contain vitamin C and are higher in flavonoids when compared to blueberries, blackberries and even goji berries.
There are no side effects and a bottle of elderberry syrup (regular or organic) can cost anywhere from $12-$25, depending upon the size. You can also find lozenges. The recommended dose for both children and adults is typically 2 teaspoons or 10 ml. I add 1 tsp to smoothies and water when I need a boost.
Echinacea is a powerful and beneficial herb that is used around the world to promote general health and wellness. It’s native to North America and can be found in many natural cold remedies, cough drops and organic supplements. This herb contains beneficial antioxidants and compounds called echinacein which is known to inhibit viruses and bacteria from penetrating healthy cells. It also has a diverse makeup of nutrients like polysaccharides, flavonoids, vitamin C, polyphenols, selenium and zinc.
Echinacea can be very beneficial in other ways too. It can reduce redness and inflammation, improve oxygen transport, promote upper respiratory health, treat skin problems, support aging, and ease aches and pains.
Caution: Echinacea comes from the same family of plants as ragweed, daisies and marigolds, so use caution if you are sensitive to pollen. Also, exercise caution if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Who doesn’t like garlic? For years, garlic has been highly effective at killing countless microorganisms for some pretty rare infections. Garlic contains a compound called allicin that naturally has high antiviral properties. As a natural remedy, it can be used internally and externally.
Garlic has been known to treat pneumonia, tuberculosis, thrush, herpes, hypertension and other infections. It also helps tremendously to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The best thing is that you can easily grow garlic yourself and enjoy its healing effects all year long. For therapeutic purposes, it’s best to consume garlic raw to obtain its healing effects or purchase capsules filled with powdered garlic. Just be sure you obtain garlic capsules from a trusted source to guarantee potency.
Ginger root has been used therapeutically for thousands of years. Ayurvedic medicine has loved ginger’s ability to boost the immune system, cleanse the lymphatic system, relieves nausea and help get clean up accumulated toxins in the body. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and contains protective compounds for the brain that can help migraine sufferers. Like garlic, ginger is great for promoting healthy blood pressure and supporting blood sugar balance.
Ginger has been historically used to calm bloating, flatulence, constipation and other digestive tract problems. Even though ginger has a very robust flavor, you can juice a few inches and add a half of lemon to make a tea that is warming and therapeutic. Of course, you can add it to many great recipes too.
Steps to preventing illness
I’ve only included four antiviral foods in this post that can help to tremendously boost your immune system, but there are many more that I will include in future posts.
- The trick to preventing illness is eating healthy so your immune system stays strong.
- We are all exposed to environmental toxins daily and these cause the body to stress continually. This stress taxes the body and weakens its defenses.
- Avoid exposure to toxins and eat clean (organic) foods as often as possible.
- Get plenty of restorative sleep and exercise.
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>> Have you tried any of these remedies to help you promote health? If so, please leave a comment below and share your story.
Cathy lives in Roanoke, Virginia and specializes in supporting families who desire to change their relationship with health–the way they eat, feel and live. She is a certified Health Coach & Educator with a strong passion for supporting each client in their journey to feeling stronger, healthier, and more energetic. Cathy presents workshops online and locally and regularly talks about real food, fitness, natural living, and all things ADHD.
Cathy is the creator of the Holistic Wellness Academy, an online training platform that will soon provide other wellness advocates a place to share their expertise with their clients so they too can learn how to eat smart, move more, feel better and live longer.