Boosting Natural Immunity & Respiratory Health

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The Covid-19 pandemic made each of us acutely aware of our personal space. And whether or not the 6-foot rule worked to keep germs away, we are more cognizant of how close we get to other people, especially coughers and sneezers.

Powerful nutrients and good habits can help everyone steer clear of germs as they navigate daily life. Washing your hands frequently and maintaining personal distance is a good idea just to be safe. So is giving your body solid nutrition to beef up your immune capacity and boost respiratory health. What are some of these terrific immune-boosting and breathe-friendly nutrients? Glad you asked.

Friends of the Immune System

Vitamin C: Probably the most well-known immune-building nutrient, vitamin C helps support the functions of both branches of the immune system: innate (the one you were born with) and adaptive (or acquired). It tells the body to make white blood cells, which defend against infection. As an antioxidant, it also helps protect these cells from free radical damage.  

Zinc benefits several different parts of the immune system, and research shows that it can help with recovery from a cold. This trace mineral is needed for the development and function of neutrophils and natural killer cells that support innate immunity. A zinc deficiency negatively impacts the immune system.  

Elderberry has been used for centuries for cold and cough in Europe and Asia. Research indicates that this tiny black berry can actually help with recovery from a cold in many people.  

Vitamin D is best known for supporting bones and teeth. But it also assists with immune health. In the body this nutrient acts as a prohormone that influences immune response in both branches of the immune system. Taken in the right quantities, D can also boost mood!  

Beta-carotene, a plant-based form of vitamin A, helps with healthy immune function.  

Friends of the Respiratory System

Marshmallow root (the herb, not the gooey treat) is about 25% mucilage, which becomes slippery in water and provides a soothing coating effect on the digestive and respiratory tracts. Marshmallow helps reduce respiratory irritation by making things slide along easily. It also supports healthy mucous membranes. Bonus: It may help with GI tract irritation.  

Fenugreek seeds swell in water and create a gel-like substance that helps soothe tissues, including mucous membranes. It has been used traditionally to help thin mucus and remove it from the upper respiratory passages.  

Thyme leaf is a member of the mint family and a cousin of oregano. In traditional herbal medicine, thyme is considered an expectorant useful for cough and expelling mucus. Thyme also supports immune health and digestion. Modern science has shown that thyme has antibacterial and antifungal properties.  

Bromelain refers to a group of enzymes found naturally in pineapple. This unique nutrient has been shown to support the nasal passages and healthy sinuses.  

Mullein leaf, looks fuzzy, but it works hard to help soothe the respiratory system and support healthy lungs. Mucilage in the leaf absorbs water and makes mullein slippery, which means mullein helps things slide along (and out of) the respiratory tract.  

Choosing foods and supplements with key nutritional benefits can help you strengthen both immune and respiratory health any time of year.



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