How to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally
By: Courtney Sperlazza, MPH
November 3, 2020
- From targeted supplements to soothing teas, these natural remedies will help strengthen your immune system.
- Your grandma was right. Learn how garlic, ginger, lavender and a hot bath can soothe your body, and how vitamins help bolster your body’s immune resistance.
- Plus, get Bulletproof recommendations for supplements designed to help you feel your best all season long.
The weather changes. You traveled by plane. You lost a night of sleep. And now you’re feeling … blegh. You want to feel your best day in and day out, but sometimes, life has other plans.
Fortunately, there are things you can do right now to support and strengthen your immune system. Below, get the best tips to protect your immunity. Further down, learn the science behind why these natural remedies work.
Your feel-better-fast checklist
Here’s your quick-and-dirty guide to natural remedies that support a healthy immune system.
- Take Bulletproof InnerFuel Prebiotic: InnerFuel Prebiotic is made with Larch Arabinogalactan, a natural immune booster.† Plus, prebiotics support a healthy gut microbiome, and your gut plays a big role in immune health.
- Eat garlic: To use garlic as a natural dietary supplement, mince two cloves and let them sit for 15 minutes for the active compounds to develop. Combine with olive oil and salt, then spread on your tasty snack of choice.
- Drink soothing teas: Ginger tea is soothing and warming—great for when you’re feeling a bit run down. Or combine lemon, lavender, coconut charcoal and raw honey for a calming tea with detox benefits.
- Supplement with turmeric: Turmeric is used for just about everything in Ayurvedic medicine for its immune-supporting properties. That’s thanks to curcumin, the active compound in turmeric. Try Bulletproof Curcumin Max—its curcumin absorbs 10 times better than standard 95% curcumin powders.
- Pop vitamin C: There’s evidence that this old standby is important for the optimal functioning of your white blood cells.
- Add glutathione: Glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant, supports the immune system and works with vitamin C. Get it in Bulletproof Glutathione Force.
- Don’t forget vitamin D: Vitamin D keeps your immune system in fighting shape. Take it with vitamins K and A for the biggest benefits. Get it all in Bulletproof Vitamins A-D-K.
- Take zinc: Studies have shown the importance of zinc in maintaining the activity of immune system cells. When taking zinc, make sure it’s paired with copper so you don’t deplete your stores, like Bulletproof Zinc with Copper.
- Use a nasal rinse: Sounds weird, but rinsing your sinuses is a great way to keep your nasal membranes clean.
- Take a bath: Add epsom salts, essential oils or bentonite clay to your tub to soothe an aching body.
How to support your immune system
If you want to strengthen your immune system, start with a strong foundation for overall health and wellness: a healthy diet, regular exercise and minimal stress. But sometimes (or oftentimes), quality sleep is hard to find and life gets in the way of a balanced diet. Use these tips to help keep your body strong, day in and day out.
Take InnerFuel Prebiotic to boost immune system†
Wondering how to boost your immune system naturally? Start with your gut. Bulletproof InnerFuel Prebiotic contains a unique blend of clinically-backed prebiotics for super-powered gut bacteria, digestive health and immune support.†
InnerFuel Prebiotic contains a plant-based prebiotic powder called Larch Arabinogalactan, a natural immune booster derived from the bark and heartwood of the Larch tree.†
If you want to protect your immune system, trust your gut—your gut bacteria, that is. A growing body of research illustrates the relationship between a healthy gut microbiome and immunity. InnerFuel Prebiotic contains ingredients like organic acacia and guar fiber to feed beneficial bacteria in your gut, which supports healthy digestion.
And as an added bonus, fiber helps you feel fuller, longer. Add a scoop to your morning coffee or smoothie and show your gut some love.
Make this recipe: Easy Prebiotic Bulletproof Coffee with Collagen Protein
Eat garlic for added immunity
The scientific community needs more data on garlic’s ability to keep vampires away, but research and centuries of traditional use have solidified garlic’s abilities as a natural remedy. Raw garlic supports your immune response, so it’s great to add to your feel-better-fast toolkit.
Avoid elephant garlic because it doesn’t have the same immune-supporting oomph that other varieties have. Also, get your garlic from a grocer you can trust, and check the bulbs for mold.
Here’s our recommended preparation: Smash two garlic cloves in a bowl and let them sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the active compounds to develop so you get the full benefit. Mix this with olive oil and spread on something fresh and tasty—or if you can handle it, pop a smashed clove in your mouth and eat it raw (as the tears stream down your face).
Sip ginger tea
Ginger contains sesquiterpenes, plant chemicals that make it a powerful natural remedy. Ginger’s energizing aroma and warming effects can help your body feel better, too.
Ginger is easy to add to your regimen. If you’re hardcore, peel the root, slice it thinly and eat it raw (again, queue the tears). If you want a more soothing experience, make ginger tea or peel and grate a knob of the root and add it to bone broth, another soothing elixir.
Take turmeric to feel your best
When you see a bright golden curry or sauce, you can guess that turmeric is a star ingredient. Historically used for its beneficial properties (and its flavor), turmeric has been a staple in Eastern medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. It’s likely you’ve seen it popping up in capsules and extracts for its antioxidant activity.
Reaching for turmeric when you feel blegh makes perfect sense because the active compound, curcumin, can help support a healthy inflammation response and regulate immunity.
Your body doesn’t readily absorb curcumin without some help. That’s why the curcumin in Bulletproof Curcumin Max is designed to absorb 10 times better than standard curcumin 95% powders.
Try this: To get the health-supporting properties of turmeric into your diet, take a curcumin extract supplement, mix fresh or powdered turmeric into your bone broth or try this soothing turmeric latte.
Pop vitamin C
Vitamin C is a classic remedy for a reason: It supports your white blood cells, the good guys that help your immune system get rid of foreign invaders.
How much vitamin C should you take? According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily amount for adults is 65-90 mg a day, and the upper limit is 2,000 mg a day. When your immune system is under stress, your body will burn through much more vitamin C than it usually uses, so experiment with the dosage throughout the day and see how you feel. You’ll know when you’ve had too much: You’ll feel digestive discomfort when it’s time to scale back.
Add these nutrient-dense sources of vitamin C to your diet for daily goodness:
- Bell pepper
- Brussels sprouts
- Citrus fruit
Heads up: If you have a stomach issue like acid reflux or GERD, high-dose ascorbic acid (vitamin C) might exacerbate symptoms. Ask your doctor about other forms of vitamin C, like a whole-food version or ascorbate. Some people swear by intravenous (IV) vitamin C, but talk to your doctor before you try it.
Help your body make more glutathione
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals—compounds that can damage your cells. Your body makes some of its own antioxidants, including a powerful one called glutathione, which detoxifies your body.
Glutathione is busy when you’re under stress, acting on toxins and free radicals. However, your glutathione supply can deplete quickly. Thanks, stress.
Glutathione has a hand in antioxidant defenses, too, so get a little extra juju out of your vitamin C when you take it with glutathione. Try it as a supplement, like Bulletproof Glutathione Force, or load up on foods that help your body make more glutathione, like broccoli, brussels sprouts and whey protein.
Supplement with vitamin D for extra defense
Vitamin D is arguably the most important nutrient for almost everyone to supplement. Well, everyone who wears clothes and doesn’t live in the tropics. Of the bajillion benefits of vitamin D, one of them is its role in the immune system.
Vitamin D supports your cytotoxic T-cells, otherwise known as the “killer cells.” These cells hang around the body, waiting for the immune system to signal them into action. Vitamin D has a key role in the signaling between immune cells. Just as importantly, vitamin D plays a role in the “at ease, soldiers” signal to the killer T-cells when it’s time for the immune system to calm down.
Vitamin D supplements are easy to find—and no, we’re not talking about any old multivitamin. Bulletproof Vitamins A-D-K gives you science-backed doses of three essential vitamins in one softgel. Easy.
Take zinc (with copper)
The typical American diet doesn’t include a whole lot of zinc-rich foods. Even if you get adequate amounts, your immune system may need more when it’s under fire. So, add zinc to your supplement stack.
Your immune function depends on an adequate supply of zinc. Of course, you can find zinc supplements everywhere, and it’s a start. But zinc and copper together (like what you’ll find in Bulletproof Zinc with Copper) form an antioxidant powerhouse called copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD). It’s one of your body’s most effective defenses, so consider it a must-have in your arsenal.
Another reason zinc and copper play better together: If you’re supplementing zinc, your body will find copper wherever it can to make CuZnSOD, which can deplete your supply if you’re low. If your zinc supplement doesn’t have any copper, up your intake of foods like dark leafy greens, cacao and organ meats.
Detox with lemon honey lavender tea
When you need a detox boost, combine lemon juice, lavender tea, coconut charcoal and raw honey to taste. The ingredients of this calming tea have amazing health benefits, like:
- Lavender: Soothing and relaxing
- Lemon: Vitamin C powerhouse
- Activated coconut charcoal: Binds to toxins and helps get them out of your system
- Raw honey*: Helps soothe scratchy throats
*Raw honey should not be given to children under 1 year of age.
Oh, and it tastes amazing. Don’t let the black charcoal throw you—it doesn’t taste like much. The lavender and lemon steal the show here. If you can’t find activated coconut charcoal at your local grocery store, check the natural foods aisle, or just order Bulletproof Coconut Charcoal online.
Use a sinus rinse
Irrigating your nasal passages sounds like an unpleasant experience, but people who do it swear by it as a head-clearing remedy. The basic premise is that rinsing your sinuses will clear out the snot and help to relieve your congestion.
Nasal irrigation comes in many forms: saline spray, neti pot and yogic basin rinses. Saline (saltwater solution) keeps the sinuses moist, making your nose feel more comfortable. You can buy saline solution for an at-home nasal rinse, or make your own.
Here are the basic steps to perform a sinus rinse at home:
- Make your saline solution: In a clean container, combine 1 cup of lukewarm distilled water or filtered water, ½ tsp. of salt and ½ tsp. of baking soda.
- Pour your saline solution into a squeeze bottle or nasal irrigation device. Insert the tip into your nostril and aim it toward the back of your head.
- Pour or squeeze gently. The saline solution should come out of your mouth or your opposite nostril. Gross, but effective.
Take a soothing detox bath
Soaking your cares away in the tub makes you feel better almost instantly. While not a remedy, per se, the warm water can relax stiff muscles and joints, while the moist air opens up congested sinuses. Adding things like essential oils, epsom salts and bentonite clay can turn your plain old soak into a detox bath.
Bentonite clay is an adsorbent. That’s not a typo—adsorbents attract molecules with a positive charge. A lot of impurities have a positive charge, so bentonite clay draws the yuck to the surface of your skin, shortening the path to your pores where it can be eliminated.
Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate crystals found at pretty much any pharmacy or supermarket. They are super easy to use: Simply add some to your bath as the water fills the tub.
When the hot water opens your pores, your skin absorbs magnesium from the epsom salts. Magnesium has calming effects, and coupled with the relaxing warmth, you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep when you get out of the tub.
Sleep is a key part of your body’s defense systems because your immune system fights hard while you’re snoozing. So, anything you can do to get a restful night’s sleep will help your body.
Need some help getting enough sleep? Take Bulletproof Sleep Mode 30 minutes before bed. It’s made with ingredients to help you relax and unwind, like plant-based melatonin and L-ornithine.
Since you absorb electrolytes in an epsom salt bath, you’ll probably need to drink a little extra water after your soak. Water is essential for flushing your system, so keep your fluids up whether you tub it or not.
Essential oils are another fantastic addition to your bathwater. The steam from your tub diffuses the oils so you can breathe them in, and the oil moisturizes your skin.
The thing is, you can’t dilute essential oils in water because they will form full-strength drops at the surface. Instead, dilute a few drops in a teaspoon or so of carrier oil before adding them to the water. Of course, be careful exiting the tub so you don’t slip.
Each essential oil offers unique benefits. Eucalyptus can soothe stuffed sinuses and open up a stuffy nose. Lemon boosts the immune system. Lavender has a calming effect that goes great with a warm soak.
Be sure to consult your doctor if you get hit with a superbug that takes you down quickly. These remedies are not meant to treat any illnesses.
The bottom line is that there isn’t a single path to good health, especially when it comes to your immunity. Start with a foundation for a healthy lifestyle, and use these tips to get back in the game pronto.
Want more tips to strengthen your immune system? Learn more about immune supplements. Curious about probiotics in foods like sauerkraut and kefir? Find out why prebiotics are just as important to help your good gut bacteria thrive.
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