Naturopathically it is considered healthy to have one cold a year as it shows your immune system can produce a response to ward off a foreign invader (viruses, not tourists!).

Anti-inflammatories & Antioxidants

Any herbs, nutrients and foods that have anti-inflammatory action provide a vital counterbalance to the pro-inflammatory cytokines released during infection. Below is a selection to provide literal food for thought:
  • Essential Fatty Acids: immunomodulatory effects of omega 3s (ALA, DHA, and EPA) show inhibiting activation of cells in both the adaptive and innate branches of immune activity.
  • Ginger: verified by modern research to support immune function via interfering with viral replication and dampening inflammation.
  • Green tea is a rich source of catechin flavonoids, especially EGCG, a polyphenol that exhibits anti-inflammatory effects and can down-regulate the inflammatory response.
  • Turmeric: its active curcuminoid constituents – especially curcumin – have proven its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive status.
For obvious reasons, the big three antioxidants have become a mainstay of anti-inflammatory and antiviral immune support over the last few years.
  • Glutathione: is referred to as the “master antioxidant”, and because infections decrease levels, it stands to reason that increased levels improve recovery. Apart from detoxification, it supports Immune health and lung function.
  • N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): a precursor to glutathione that acts as a mucous-modifying agent; NAC can help protect the respiratory tract and improve recovery outcomes.
  • Quercetin: acts as a natural antihistamine and as an ionophore to zinc. It also appears in recent research to have antiviral properties.

Vitamins & Minerals

  • Vitamin A: aside from being the first fat-soluble vitamin to be discovered, the A also signifies its ‘anti-infective’ properties-especially in retinol form. It appears to play a vital role in maintaining the health and function of mucous membranes, and deficiency can increase susceptibility to infection.
  • B vitamins: stress is known to deplete B vitamins, and the resulting deficiency can affect immune function.
  • Vitamin C: the ‘go-to’ for immune support with its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral effects. It offers many immune-enhancing results, including improving WBC response, increasing interferon, and protecting cells from oxidative damage.
  • Vitamin D: deficiency affects almost 1 in 3, and low levels look linked to an increased risk of viral respiratory infections. Receptors for vitamin D are on immune cells such as lymphocytes and macrophages, and it appears that D3 may function to prevent viruses from infecting cells.
  • Vitamin E is another potent antioxidant in higher immune cell concentrations than other blood cells. Its α-tocopherol form has been shown in studies to offer immunoregulatory support to both.
  • Selenium: helps WBCs and T cells to protect the body from infection. It also plays a vital role in the functioning of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, thus impacting all components of the immune system.
  • Zinc: another ‘immune stalwart’, this mineral is involved in immune cell recruitment and function; systemic inflammation demonstrates antioxidant and antiviral properties (with the ability to stop RNA replication).

Traditional Herbal Support

Many traditional botanicals immediately emerge – such as astragalus, Andrographis, cat’s claw, Echinacea, elderberry, garlic, goldenseal, olive leaf and oregano oil. A few less popular ones include:
Amla & Holy BasilPopular in Ayurveda is amla – a broad remit fruit with research demonstrating potent anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity. Amla also harnesses the antioxidant properties of vitamin C – with each fruit containing 600–700mg, it is a rich source.Holy basil is another, with its traditional usage for sore throats and respiratory conditions.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms such as Chaga, maitake, reishi, shiitake and turkey tail have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote immune support and resilience. Their active constituents (beta-glucans polysaccharides) are unique immunomodulators that appear to “train” the immune response.

Prevention quick reminders

  • Keep hydrated
  • Keep your microbiome in balance
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat nutrient-dense food
  • Get regular, restorative sleep
  • Manage stress levels
  • Include targeted supplementation

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