Searches for how to boost the immune system have skyrocketed on search engines and social media over the past 3 years. The interest is valid with the numerous viruses that have been going on.
The cool thing about our bodies is that they do a really great job of defending us against many disease-producing viruses. The immune system is complex and very interconnected which makes evidence-based research very complex.
When we talk about boosting the immune system we first have to think about what systems are interconnected and what can impact their function. Without going into it too much we have ten body systems and each of them has its own dependent functions but also works in coordination with one another. So due to this, we want to take a multi-faceted approach to support the immune system which is why no one supplement, herb, or nutritional approach is going to boost our immune system.
Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle absolutely helps in aiding our immune system to fire on all cylinders. Some may be obvious but very helpful health habits to focus on are:
- Nutrition - including a wide variety of fruits & veggies, adequate protein intake, as well as healthy fats, and fiber.
- Movement - exercise that you enjoy and can be consistent with is very beneficial
- Sleep - get both adequate duration and good quality z’s.
- Stress - implement stress reduction strategies to support your central nervous system
We want to consider all the above lifestyle habits to support all of our body systems. In doing so, you may have asked yourself this question: what herbs or teas could I incorporate into my daily rituals?
While there is not a ton of evidence-based research in this field regarding tea and supporting the immune system, we know from more Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic approaches that they have been using teas for centuries to address the root causes of health concerns. So while more research on teas is needed, we do know that the main compounds that help with supporting immune function would be the group of antioxidants known as polyphenols which help with reducing free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals come from environmental exposures in the foods we eat, products we use, UV rays we are exposed to, pollution, and more.
Green Tea - some studies show that the polyphenols found in Green Tea can help support the immune system by regulating T-cells that help it from attacking the healthy cells in one's body. The antioxidant that helps with this regulation is called Epigallocatechin (EGCC) and it is what helps with the regulation. Regular consumption can help with many inflammatory conditions as well and there is some promising research in the area of Green Tea.
Turmeric Tea - turmeric has some really wonderful research when it comes to its ability to lower inflammation. Free radicals in our bodies tend to cause inflammation, so the conclusion can be nicely drawn that by incorporating turmeric tea regularly, you could lower free radical damage in the body that tends to correspond with disease, thus supporting your immune system. To make sure you get the most out of your turmeric tea, make sure you get BHT’s Cup of Sunshine which combines peppercorn right in the blend to make sure you get the best absorption out of your turmeric!
Tulsi Tea - this tea is considered to be among the “queen of the herbs” and one of its many touted benefits include supporting immune health. Tulsi has high phenolic compounds and antioxidant properties that can help support optimal detoxification and remove free radicals in the body. When we are able to have good function in all our systems we can reduce toxin load that can prevent viruses and disease. BHT’s Cup of Love contains a blend of tulsi and love which is the perfect pick-me-up for your immune system during cold & flu season.
When it comes to your rituals and health habits the best thing we can do is to keep things simple and incorporate the things that bring us joy! This makes it much easier to be consistent! So find some teas you love and curl up to some comfort that also supports your body this winter!
Written by Caitlin Cipriano, MS, ATC