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You know the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It’s true. The best way to stay healthy and protected against illness is to boost your immune system.

So today, I wanted to share with you some of the ways I boost my immune system naturally (and, you know, take care of my family, too) so that I stay healthy all year long.

Warning: by boosting your immune system, you may experience fewer sick days, more savings on healthcare and better health overall.

Eat Real Food

1. Scratch cooking

Real food is free of harmful chemicals and additives and as close to its natural state as possible. Making the switch to real food made from scratch has been the most impactful decision as far as boosting my immune system goes. I love cooking from scratch with single ingredients because I know what’s going in my body. Need help making the switch? Try this free Real Food Crash Course.

2. Reduce sugar

Sugar inhibits a healthy immune system response which is why I recommend avoiding all processed sugars. I recommend making the switch to natural sweeteners, but still eating them only on occasion because your body doesn’t differentiate between the two.

3. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies

Many people simply do not get enough of the fresh fruits and vegetables their bodies need. These essential foods contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc. that our bodies need to run properly. If you aren’t getting 5-13 servings of fruits and veggies each day, you are more prone to illness and disease (here’s some research and recommendations for getting more in your diet).

I had a huge problem with not getting enough produce in my diet. I’m making progress by keeping it simple. I try to add a handful of spinach to dinner or half an avocado (and the spinach) to a smoothie so I can add in more fresh fruits and veggies. I also take ItWorks greens twice a day.

Herbs and Essential Oils

4. Elderberry syrup

Elderberries are high in vitamins A, B, and C and help support a healthy immune system. You can easily create your own elderberry syrup and take it daily for immune support (here’s an elderberry syrup how-to with dosage instructions).

5. Astragalus

Astragalus is a Chinese herb that is often used as an immune system booster and to combat cancer. This is a great herb to take prior to any big outings to help prevent the illnesses that often occur after being around lots of people. I recommend taking astragalus via tincture or capsule.

6. Trilight Immune Boosting tincture

This pre-made tincture combines immune-boosting herbs like echinacea, elderberry and thyme that I use specifically with my kids. I love it because they ask to take it and it boosts their immune system whether we’re hanging out with a bunch of friends who might be sick or they’re starting to feel a little yucky themselves.

7. Oregano essential oil

Oregano essential oil is an excellent source of antioxidants that provides immune enhancing benefits. It’s best diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the bottoms of the feet. It’s typically only used for a short period of time (7-10 days or so) because it is so powerful.

8. Frankincense essential oil

I use frankincense essential oil on a daily basis as part of my wellness routine. It helps build and maintain a healthy immune system and promotes feelings of peace, relaxation and overall wellness (perhaps another way it’s so beneficial to the immune system?).

9. Melaleuca essential oil

Melaleuca or tea tree essential oil promotes healthy immune function and protects against environmental and seasonal threats. Dilute with a small amount of your favorite carrier oil (mine is coconut oil) and apply along the spine on a regular basis.

Proactive Self-Care

10. Exercise

I’m not a fan of prescribing 30 minutes a day, three times a week. Instead, I recommend moving your body as much as possible. Walk more. Sit less. Hike. Run. Stretch.

11. Reduce stress

This is just as important as using immunity-boosting herbs or eating real food. Constant stress wears your body down and weakens your immune system. Pinpoint what’s causing the stress in your life and determine what can be done to change that (and often, it’s a change of mindset and determination to be grateful no matter what the circumstances).

12. Improve sleep

Sleep is a vital time of healing and restoration for our bodies. If you’re not getting enough, create a bedtime routine. Try going to bed a bit earlier. Say no to screens after 8 pm. Use calming essential oils before bed. Your body will thank you.

How do you boost your immune system naturally?