Your Best Health
Take elderberry extract. Elderberry supplements—rich in antioxidant flavonoids known as anthocyanins— can cut short a flu by as much as four days, according to clinical research. Look for the extract in tablet, lozenge, or syrup form by Sambucol (sambucol.com) or as Immunity Take Care from New Chapter (newchapter.com). Follow label guidelines for general immune support, and double the dosage to fight a bug.
Recharge your thymus. Your immune system’s T cells are nurtured in the thymus gland, located in your upper chest, says James Forleo, D.C., author of Health is Simple, Disease is Complicated (North Atlantic, 2008). Recurring bacterial or viral infections, allergies, and fatigue can all indicate an overworked gland. To help your thymus, Forleo recommends a chiropractic adjustment, which boosts your central nervous system and all gland functions. Or, take Thymex, a supplement by Standard Process (standardprocess.com) that contains bovine thymus extract. Follow label guidelines and use for only one or two months.
Spend time with friends. Reams of research show that people who have a strong social support network tend to live longer than those who are less connected. A study with first-year medical students at Ohio State University found that those who scored highest on tests measuring stressful life events and loneliness had significantly lower natural killer-cell activity than their peers.
3 FORTIFYING FOODS
1. EAT BRIGHT, EAT RIGHT. The best way to get selenium and zinc, the antioxidants you need to wipe out disease-causing free radicals, is to eat six to eight servings per day of colorful fruits (apples, oranges, and berries) and vegetables (like carrots, spinach, and broccoli), says Michelle Babb of the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle. As a rule of thumb, one serving is ½ cup of chopped fruit or veggies or one medium-sized piece of fruit.
2. GO WITH GARLIC. Flush out potentially dangerous microbes with one or two cloves of garlic a day, says Alschuler, N.D. Or, take an aged garlic extract supplement, such as Kyolic (kyolic.com), which contains all the allicin and other antimicrobial compounds found in the real thing, minus the odor.
3. DRINK TEA. Research suggests that L-theanine, found in black, green, oolong, and pekoe teas, may enhance the disease-fighting capabilities of the immune system’s T cells, allowing them to defend better against invading bacteria. Drink two to four cups of tea per day for a potent brew of amino acids and antioxidants. In addtion, tea’s dietary phenols also inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut.