How can I strengthen my immune system to protect against swine flu and other pandemic viruses?

Green Giant immunity blend veggies (by iateapie - CC-BY)

Green Giant immunity blend veggies (by iateapie - CC-BY)

A strong immune system is your best protection against virulent strains of flu and other viruses. When viruses strike a large geographic area and rise to pandemic proportions, vaccines cannot be relied on to protect an entire population. Viruses can also mutate rapidly and become resistant to existing antiviral drugs and vaccines.

Keeping your immune system in peak condition is the best defense against viral infection in any form, whether it be the common flu or a pandemic virus on a global scale!

Some important natural immune boosters are listed below. They are easy to incorporate into your diet to help your body build a good immune defense. Children and aging adults are particularly susceptible to viruses so it is wise to make these foods and supplements a part of daily life for immune protection throughout the lifespan.

Vitamin C tops the list when it comes to immune protection. Vitamin C  has been shown to increase the production of the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells and increase the efficiency of antibodies.  It also stimulates increased levels of  interferon which coats the cell surfaces to prevent the entry of viruses.  A diet plentiful in fresh fruits and vegetables provides natural vitamin C, but supplementation in powdered form should be be considered to keep the immune system at optimum levels. Freshly-squeezed lemons in water is another good way to get vitamin C while maintaining a healthy internal pH balance.

Garlic is a potent immune booster. It helps the body fight off viruses by increasing the production of disease-fighting antibodies and stimulating the production of white cells to fight infection. The allicin in garlic is extremely important to immune defense and is found in higher concentrations in natural garlic as opposed to the commonly desired, odorless supplement. It  is beneficial to use raw garlic on a daily basis as part of your overall diet. As an alternative,  aged garlic extract and garlic oil supplements can also be used to strengthen the immune system.

Onions contain a potent immune booster called quercetin which has both antiviral and antibacterial properties. Onions have been used through the centuries to combat viruses. A common treatment for the flu is to combine equal amounts of onion juice with honey in a dose of three to four teaspoons a day. Incorporating onions in the daily diet is an easy way to help boost your immune protection.

Ginger root has been used as a medicinal herb through the centuries. It possesses antiviral and antibacterial properties along with a multitude of other health benefits. Fresh ginger root can be used in cooking or brewed as tea. A potent antiviral tea can be made by steeping minced ginger in hot water and adding honey to taste.

Yogurt with active cultures is known as a disease-fighter and protector against viruses and other infections. Individuals who eat yogurt every day can increase their  infection-fighting cells and strengthen their immune system. Though probiotic active yogurt cultures are preferable, both conventional and probiotic yogurt have been shown to boost cellular immunity.

Turmeric contains an important ingredient called curcumin which has been gaining attention for its potent immune-boosting effects.  Turmeric can be added to recipes or taken as a supplement in capsule form. A suggested dosage during a viral attack is a teaspoon of turmeric in cup of warm milk or broth, taken three times daily.

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  Need research? Quezi's researchers can answer your questions at uclue.com

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