With everything that’s making the rounds this winter, bolstering your body’s defenses by boosting our immune system is smarter than ever! Thankfully, experts say it’s easy with these tweaks
Cooking with spice? Add black pepper!
Enjoying soups and stews made with the golden Indian spice turmeric helps activate a wide variety of immune cells, thanks to its active ingredient curcumin. So says William Li, MD, author of Eat to Beat Disease (Buy on Amazon, $17.99). Dr. Li advises adding a dash of black pepper too. The reason: Studies show a black pepper compound called piperine enhances blood levels of curcumin by 154 percent.
Sipping green tea? Add a lemon squeeze!
Plant compounds in green tea (EGCG) block enzymes that help viruses multiply. That’s the word from researchers in India, who suggest sipping 3 to 4 cups daily to protect against covid-19. Even better: adding a squeeze of lemon. Lemon’s natural acids and vitamin C blunt the breakdown of EGCG in the intestines, say Purdue University scientists, more than doubling the amount the body can use.
Breathing through your nose? Add tunes!
A powerful antiviral substance known as nitric oxide is produced in nasal tissues. That’s why Nobel Prize winner Louis Ignarro, PhD, advises breathing in through your nose to protect against covid-19. Boost immune protection even further by humming tunes throughout the day. In a Swedish study, humming increased nitric oxide levels 15-fold in just 20 seconds!
Going for a walk? Eat this first!
Exercise enhances immune function, notes Dr. Li, but the effect stops when you stop. The simple fix: snacking on blueberries as you head out for a walk. That’s because anthocyanins in berries help keep immune levels higher after exercise. Indeed, researchers at Appalachian State University found that folks who ate blueberries had twice as many natural killer cells after exercising than folks who didn’t eat the fruit.
Hooked on a book? Keep reading!
An extra half hour of weekly reading time tamps down immunity-weakening hormones, cutting illness risk by 40 percent .
A mealtime trick that boosts defenses.
Increasing your stores of vitamin D can reduce your odds of respiratory infections by 64 percent and cut your risk of covid complications by as much as sevenfold, which is why experts advise taking a D-3 supplement daily. The best time to take D? Mealtimes! USDA research reveals fat increases absorption of the vitamin by 32 percent.
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This story originally appeared in our print magazine.