Luckily for you when I'm not working, I have a bit too much time on my hands. That said, I'm very often asked about herbs and foods that can naturally boost the immune system. The great part about adding immune boosting herbs and foods to your diet is just that – you can add them to your diet. While you can find a lot of these things in supplement form, the more natural the source, the healthier it is for you. It doesn't matter if you're working to cure a Candida overgrowth, like so many of my patients, or some other illness. These 21 herbs and foods are top-of-the-line when it comes to boosting immune health.
Pau D'Arco is an herb often used to make teas. It's derived from the Taheebo tree, which can be found in Brazil and Argentina. Researchers claim this herb has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties and is great for immune support.
Tahini is a ground paste made from roasted sesame seeds. According to John LaPuma, MD, tahini is rich in magnesium, zinc, and healthy blood cells. The zinc helps to activate white blood cells and the magnesium helps to boost your immune system as well.
Black pepper appears on tables around the world, but what most people don't know is that it contains a compound called piperine. Piperine has anti-inflammatory properties but it is also responsible for helping your body absorb the healthy compounds from the other spices you eat.
Also according to Dr. LaPuma, the aromatic oils contained within a full oregano leaf have the ability to kill up to 30 different microorganisms, including staph and e. coli. When you buy oregano, check the bottle to make sure it's in leaf form – not ground into a powder. Oregano also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Pumpkin seems to be a fall treat, but it's got ton of immune boosting benefits. Roast the pumpkin, cut out the inside seeds, and blend it into a soup with your preferred veggies. Pumpkin contains beta-carotene, which is one of the best immune boosters because it can create vitamin A. This allows your body to boost it's own immune system from within.
According to Dr. David Brownstein, MD, most people are iodine deficient and can greatly benefit from supplementation. You can get iodine from natural foods or from commercial supplements, and you'll be able to tell right away if your body is lacking because you'll notice a difference in the way you feel. Iodine is also antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial.
Chaga comes from a mushroom that grows in trees and is one of the most powerful immune-boosting herbs you can ingest. Some studies have even shown it to be a great cancer-fighting herb. Chaga is full of polysaccharides, which are perfect for feeding and supporting your white blood cells and, as a result, your immune system.
I think everyone should be eating yogurt and I recommend it to my clinic patients as often as possible. The probiotics that are found in yogurt are just as effective as supplements, especially if they contain Lactobacillus retueri. My recommendation, though, is to stay away from store-bought yogurts that are full of added chemicals and sugars. Try making your own instead.
According to Prevention, shellfish is full of selenium. Selenium helps your white blood cells produce the proteins it needs to flush viruses out of your body. Other fishes, like salmon, have omega-3 oils, which are critical when it comes to reducing inflammation within the body.
Sweet potatoes are still a starchy vegetable, so if you're in the early stages of a Candida diet plan, you'll want to avoid them. That said, if you can eat them without reserve, you'll find they offer a ton of Vitamin A, which is important to your skin, which is an important organ and part of your immune system. A mere ½ cup serving offers up to 50% of your daily vitamin A needs.
Garlic has been used medicinally for decades because of it's powerful microorganism fighting properties. In terms of treating Candida, the organism simply can't survive alongside garlic. Garlic can stimulate the immune system, but that isn't something you necessarily want to do daily. That said, keep your doses of fresh garlic to a minimum and focus on aged garlic supplements and extracts for countering Candida. You'll love it because it doesn't cause body odor or bad breath the way fresh does.
If you can't put anything else into your pantry right now, make sure you add coconut oil. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but studies have shown it to be incredibly beneficial to your health and well-being,e specially since it's not a hydrogenated oil. Coconut is great for normalizing cholesterol. It also helps fuel your brain, which is especially helpful when you're on a very low glucose diet while curing Candida.
Fresh ginger has both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it another perfect addition to your immune boosting arsenal. Ginger can be a bit strong, so start using it sparingly. Add some to your juices or smoothies, boil it into a tea, or grate a bit into a dish.
Cabbage is packed with the amino acid known as glutamine, which is great for the health of your intestines (and, subsequently, your immune system). Chop it, mix it with other veggies, or eat it in the form of sauerkraut (especially great as a fermented food for curing Candida).
Lemons have a myriad of incredible health benefits, starting with the most important – vitamin C content. Lemons also contain vitamin B and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. A lot of people simply squeeze lemon juice into water and use it to help control their glucose levels, blood pressure, and even indigestion. According to the American Urological Association, lemons can even help stop the formation of kidney stones.
Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. It strengthens the immune system and can also help you to deal with stress, something that is important when treating any condition, including Candida. The trick is to make sure you buy a high-quality ginseng supplement – not a crazy energy drink or mass-produced, low-quality imposter.
Tomatoes are filled with antioxidants, including lycopene. According to the American Cancer Society, there are some studies that have shown diets high in lycopene can help to reduce cancer risks. It's also believed to lower the risk of heart disease and other age-related disorders.
Almonds help to boost your immune system because of their high Vitamin E content. Vitamin E is especially important for those who suffer from respiratory ailments. You can eat them alone, as part of a trail mix, or blended into other recipes. Just make sure you're not over-eating these delicious nuts.
Astragalus is considered an adaptogen and potent supporter of the immune system. Believers have been using it for thousands of years to strengthen their bodies and increase white blood cell levels. It also supports the skin in getting toxins out of your body.
Aloe vera has been used to heal the body inside and out. It's a prebiotic, similar in nature to a probiotic. It contains a ton of vitamins and minerals, including A, C, E, magnesium, selenium, and sulfur; as well as fiber and antioxidants. Aloe vera can inhibit the growth of Candida and can soothe the intestinal walls in patients with leaky gut syndrome.
Ghee isn't as well known as it should be, but it's quite possibly one of the healthiest fats out there – perhaps even better for you than coconut oil. This type of butter, if you can find a raw and organic variety, is absorbed by the body at high percentage rates. The lauric acid within it is a powerful antifungal agent, which will help to kill Candida. This is great to add to a Candida diet because the high calorie level will help to balance out your lower calorie intake as you follow a strict diet. It doesn't matter if you have Candida or not, though. This is one butter you need to eat regularly – it works with iodine, boosts the immune system, builds muscles, adds vitamin D to the body, and offers energy without fat accumulation.
It doesn't matter if you're fighting Candida, an immune disorder, or any other disease. Adding some of these foods to your diet on a regular basis can't hurt you – and they certainly may help!