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When we consider all the microbes our bodies encounter on a daily basis, both good and bad, it should make us appreciate the very complex job of  our immune system.  This system is tasked with identifying and protecting the body from harmful microscopic invaders.  Contrary to popular opinion, it is neither possible nor advisable to make our external environment “germ-free.”  Instead, we should focus on making the internal environment of our body as strong and healthy as we can.  Following are some natural immune system boosters.

Two important vitamins for the immune system are vitamin C and vitamin D.  Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that aids in fighting many types of viral and bacterial infections.  Vitamin D has been called a “miracle nutrient for the immune system” due to its role in the production of hundreds of antimicrobial peptides.  Additionally, the mineral zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of immune system cells.

Three herbal options for immune system support are elderberry, echinacea, and astragalus.  Echinacea is an excellent infection fighter and a powerful natural antibiotic.  It is an effective blood purifier and a good cleanser for the lymphatic system.  Astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to increase natural defense mechanisms.  Recent scientific studies have confirmed the immune-enhancing properties of this plant.  Elderberry also has a long history of use in treating illness.  It enhances immune system function, fights inflammation, lowers fever, and soothes the respiratory tract.

Finally, let’s look at some unconventional immune-system boosters: probiotics, bone broth, and coconut oil.  A good quality probiotic helps modulate the immune system and relieve excess inflammation in the gut, where the majority of immune cells reside.  Old-fashioned bone broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system; it also reduces inflammation and helps heal the digestive tract.  Coconut oil is a source of lauric acid, which the body converts to monolaurin, a natural antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral compound.