Supplements help to build immunity

Feeling sick? What’s the first thing you do? Pop a pill?  Research organic and natural solutions? If you answered the first one, you’re not alone. It almost seems like a standard measure. It’s a habit we picked up from our health care system.

What we should ask is this: Why am I getting sick in the first place? Fortunately, natural remedies often can prevent us from getting sick. There’s one ingredient to a disease-proof immune system we don’t tend to talk about as much as we talk about drugs: holistic nutrition.

Your immune system is naturally equipped with fighter cells — white blood cells or WBCs — that guard against all kinds of infections.

All five types of WBCs work together to fight foreign organisms and substances. That includes harmful bacteria, which divide every half hour. Millions of WBCs need fuel to recharge and keep those harmful organisms at bay.

The more well-balanced and nutrient-dense your diet, the stronger your immune system. But it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, to achieve 100 percent balanced and vitamin-rich nutrition from food alone. Studies show 70 percent of the world population doesn’t get adequate nutrition. You can fill in those gaps by consuming natural supplements that provide what’s lacking in our everyday diets.

Here are my top seven supplements to help build your immunity. When choosing supplements, consider science-backed supplements that contain these amazing natural ingredients in their live form.

Probiotics: These friendly bacteria protect the colon and strengthen the immune system by preparing it to accept good bacteria. They thrive in various places in the body, maintaining the natural balance of good and opportunistic microorganisms. However, there are situations when this balance is destroyed, such as illnesses, stress or when you take broad-spectrum antibiotics repeatedly for long periods that also tends to destroy good bacteria. More than 70 percent of immune cells need millions of these good bacteria to perform well. A good supplement contains probiotics in a protective barrier that shields it from enzymes and acids in the mouth and stomach. It’s the only way they can ever be effective.

Garlic: If there’s one odoriferous supplement you should have in your cupboard, it’s garlic. Not only does it help reduce bad cholesterol and regulate blood pressure, it also has the unique ability to fight fungi, bacteria and viruses — all thanks to its active ingredient, allicin. A high-qualify coated supplement is a must.

Alfalfa: This power-packed herb contains such cell-building vitamins as A, C, E and K, plus such energy-releasing minerals as calcium and potassium. A good brand provides a variety of nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus and chlorophyll. Alfalfa also offers a rich source of bioflavonoids, a natural compound that decongests stuffy noses when you have the flu, colds, allergies or rhinitis.

Zinc: Studies have found this trace mineral provides the highest immunity strengthening attributes among all minerals. Zinc is an important activator of T-cells, a type of WBC that scan, remember and destroys infected or cancerous cells in the body. Zinc helps with everything from diarrhea to pneumonia to cancer. Zinc has been proven to lessen the severity of flu and colds, too.

Echinacea: Part of the daisy family, echinacea was first used by North American tribes in the 1800s as medicine for several non-respiratory illnesses. Studies have found echinacea also promotes more WBCs. Echinacea is effective against many bacterial and viral strains, including cold and flu.

Vitamin C: This should be a staple in every home and can be safely used by adults and children. Since the body doesn’t have the capacity to create vitamin C naturally, it’s crucial to get it from external preparations. The antioxidants in vitamin C support your immune system by combating free radicals that cause cell destruction and also help build new tissues and cells. Doctors recommend up to 1,000 milligrams vitamin C a day — the equivalent of about  10 oranges — when your body requires repair and recovery because of sickness, prolonged stress or insufficient sleep for extended periods of time. A supplement with sustained release over 12 hours is best.

Interferon-stimulating plant extracts: These are naturally occurring components of the immune system Nobel Prize winner Yasuhiko Kojima discovered in the 1950s. Interferons are crucial for immunity because they provide the body signals in case of opportunistic invasions by bacteria, viruses and malignant growths. Interferons also play a role in mediating the release of killer cells that travel to infected areas and eat harmful microorganisms and materials. Certain plant extracts have been known to encourage interferon production naturally. They include pumpkin seed, safflower, Asian plantain seed and Japanese honeysuckle flower extract.