About a month ago I was walking home during an unseasonably warm evening. I felt free!

This was the kind of freedom you feel when a big project is over or your final exams are behind you. You feel that a new stage of your life is about to begin.

You are ready to celebrate or simply relax. You’re tired and excited at the same time. You make plans and think of all the things you’ll do in the next few days or weeks.

And the very next morning you wake up with a sore throat.

Has it ever happened to you?

Your body and mind were working double time. And now it’s time to relax, and everything, including your own immune system, shuts down. All those amazing plans are now just a dream.

As you probably know, when we are stressed or have trouble sleeping, we’re more likely to catch that cold or flu. On top of that, they’re more likely to linger around longer.

So what could you try to boost your immune system?

A lifestyle that includes a good diet, sound sleep and moderate exercise are all very important.

The beneficial effects of immune supporters such as vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A/beta-carotene, zinc and other vitamins and minerals have been in the press.

I would recommend looking at the multiple food sources for these vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin A/beta-carotene) and incorporating them into your diet.

Plants and other natural products are researched as effective immunity promoters.

These are 3 important immune system boosters for you to start with.

1. Probiotics

As I mentioned in my other post, healthy bacteria and yeast are great for your digestion. The commonly studied cultures include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces.

Try to incorporate fermented foods rich in these bacteria and yeast into your diet, especially during the times of stress. Some examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and kombucha.

Recent research suggests that friendly cultures in food protect us against colds and flu by stimulating our immune system. Probiotics in general are the third most commonly used category of natural products.

2. Mushrooms

When I talk about mushrooms, most of my students giggle. If the subtitle made you smile as well, please keep in mind, medicinal mushrooms are different from the hallucinogenic ones.

A number of medicinal mushrooms can be purchased at your supermarket or local farmers’ market. Shiitake and maitake mushrooms are great to begin with.

Mushrooms are well researched and have a multitude of therapeutic activities. They can help to improve blood flow, balance cholesterol and blood sugar, support liver and kidneys, provide antiviral activity, increase athletic performance and more.

Mushrooms have large molecules that safely wake up our immune system to fight against viruses and bacteria. Most natural clinicians recommend consuming mushrooms preventatively.

If you’d like to learn more about mushrooms, check out this amazing TED Talk by Paul Stamets — 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.

3. Astragalus

This last plant comes to us from its native China. It was traditionally used to “invigorate the vital energy and strengthen body resistance.” In Asia, the long tongue depressor-shaped roots of astragalus are commonly added to soups.

If you like cooking, try adding astragalus (and some mushrooms) to your chicken/bone broth or another soup/stew base. Astragalus is becoming more popular in other parts of the world. It’s now also more frequently recommended in a pill form.

One word of caution, Astragalus is typically used to prevent illness, and should be stopped if you actually become sick.

Would you be willing to try one or all three of these immune boosters?

Originally published at www.lanacamiel.com

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About the Author

I am a college professor, pharmacist and herbalist, teaching young professionals and students how to have less stress and more focus with the right food and herbs.

Are you tired of being tired? Check out my list with 7 simple wellness tips to make your life more focused, vibrant and healthy.

Originally published at medium.com