Natural Immune Boosters
Heading back to school means back to germs, so now’s the time to launch healthy preemptive strikes. Ask your doc about these five natural tools:
- Probiotics “Good bacteria in the gut is the body’s first line of immune defense,” says Lesley James, M.D., an integrative practitioner in Rochester, New York. Opt for a daily serving of plain yogurt or a probiotic supplement containing 10 to 20 billion colony-forming units.
- Multivitamins A daily kids’ multi containing vitamins A and C, as well as zinc, can help the immune system fight off infections, says James.
- Astragalus Used in traditional Chinese medicine, this herb helps protect the immune system and also has antibacterial properties to fight off viruses. Find kid-friendly formulas at health food stores.
- Omega-3s Their anti-inflammatory properties can prevent recurrent respiratory infections, says James. Kinds can get enough omega-3s with two to three weekly servings of fatty fish, or a daily fish oil supplement. Try the new vegetarian supplement Ovega-3 ($30 for 60 capsules, ovega.com).
- Wild mushrooms Asian varieties like reishi and shiitake can stimulate or suppress the immune system as needed, says James. Two to three weekly servings of cooked mushrooms can give maximum benefits.