For over a decade, I’ve been researching, writing and editing wellness content as the Editor-in-Chief of brands such as Women’s Health, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan and now, as the Editorial Director of THE WELL. If I had to pick one universal takeaway from all of my deep-diving into wellness, it would be this: Biology is not destiny— we have a lot of control over our health and well-being, from the size of our jeans (I still care, sue me) to our cognitive function (more important, obvi).
This also holds true when it comes to immune health — just like your abs or arms, the fitness of your immune system can get stronger through training and lifestyle habits.
And with this effing pandemic raging on…and on…and getting worse, we all need to tone up our defenses. Critical note: Since humans have never before encountered the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19, we have no natural immunity to it — the only way to avoid contracting it is to prevent exposure. Still, no matter what pathogen you encounter, including the viruses that cause common colds and the flu, buffing up your immune response can lessen the severity of an illness and help you recover more quickly.
I’ve tested tons and tons of wellness products and below are the six I personally use to keep my immune system in fighting shape:
One of my go-to products is this new herbal tincture from top medical herbalist and CB contributor, Daniela Turley, MCPP, AHG. It is a formulation of astragalus, echinacea and other phytochemicals in therapeutic doses (meaning the quality, potency and concentration of the ingredients is actually effective —something you can’t always count on in supplements). And thanks to sweet, immune-fortifying licorice, it doesn’t taste like hell, which is a really nice bonus. I usually take it in conjunction with the Adaptivir Immune Boost. You can’t have too much of a good thing when it comes to immune health!
Quercetin is my new ingredient crush. It’s a powerful, but underappreciated bioflavonoid (plant compound) that functions as an antioxidant and can be found in foods such as apples, onions and leafy greens. What’s really cool is that quercetin has been shown to inhibit viral replication and lung inflammation (yes, please!). In Superpowder, quercetin is coupled with attention-hogging vitamin C in a powder you can mix with water or throw in a smoothie. Stunning actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas recently raved about this very product in People mag — so in addition to keeping me healthy, I’m hoping it turns me into a goddess. Still waiting…
3. Trader Joe’s 100% Ginger Drink Mix
I’m obsessed with this recent TJ’s discovery. Just like the box says, it’s 100% ginger —nuthin’ else. The powder comes in convenient (albeit not super eco-friendly) individual packets and because it’s dried not ground, it dissolves instantly. Ginger has well-documented medicinal properties, including antiviral activity —although fresh ginger is best for that! The powder still has amazing anti-inflammatory ability. As for the taste, I’m into the intense spiciness, but you can make it milder by adding less powder to your water (hot or cold). It’s also great mixed into matcha to add some pow.
Buy it: at Trader Joe’s, $3
4. Good Night
Quality sleep is key to immune health and lately, my sleep has sucked. I’m not alone— sleep is yet another casualty of the COVID-19 crisis, thanks to the mental anguish we’re all experiencing and the disruptions to our cherished routines. Elixinol’s Good Night combines full-spectrum CBD oil (known for calming the mind) with melatonin (in supp form, it mimics a hormone that works to regulate circadian rhythms). To quote the brand’s clever marketing copy, Good Night can help you become an “overnight success.”
Sometimes staying healthy means protecting your immune system from an attack. This essential oil-infused hand sanitizer from THE WELL has the requisite 80% alcohol base, but it won’t leave you with dry hands (never cute, but also cracks are entry points for germs). It comes in four— dare I say elegant? — scents: lavender & vetiver, pink peppercorn and grapefruit, bergamot & ylang ylang and lemongrass. I spray my hands, face mask and phone with it.
6). Sugar Free 3
Shameless plug alert: I wrote this book about how to curb your sugar consumption —a dietary move that has many health benefits, including fostering a healthy immune response. How so? “Sugar negatively regulates innate immunity against viral and bacterial pathogens,” according to this study. If you’re too tied to read a book, I got you —I also created a series of videos you can stream that teach you everything you need to know about how to spot the sneaky places sugar hides and kick it to the curb.
Photo credit: The photo is a scene from Contagion. If you don’t know this movie, you might be hiding under a rock during COVID.