Immune Boosting Adaptogens

Herbs

Stress can affect the immune system. Research suggests that adaptogens, a group of plant-based herbs, may help our immune system by calming our central nervous system, decreasing anxiety, and boosting overall health. Five common adaptogens are:

  • Astragalus Root. Increases the production of immune cells and boosts heart health.
  • Ginseng. May reduce inflammation, enhance strength and stamina, and improve blood sugar.
  • Holy Basil. Antioxidant that treats bacterial, inflammatory infections.
  • Licorice Root. Soothes the stomach, reduces stress, and cleanses the respiratory system.
  • Raw Cacao. Helps improve digestion, enhances learning, and balances mood swings.
  • Schisandra. Boosts the immune system by managing stress, protects against liver disease, and treats menopause symptoms.

Before adding any adaptogen, other herbal remedies, or supplements, consult with your health care provider to ensure they are safe for you.

Sources:
Plant Adaptogens- History and Future Perspectives, go.iastate.edu/SFTK2S
10 Adaptogens that Boost the Immune System, go.iastate.edu/KGSETP

You Herb It Here First!

Herbs and spices can turn a bland, flavorless dish into a mouthwatering meal full of flavor the whole family will love! Not only do they add flavor, but they add health benefits too. Herbs and spices are full of nutrients and antioxidants that can make your meals more nutritious. For example, the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties in garlic help reduce inflammation and provide immune system support.

In addition to adding flavor and health benefits, using herbs and spices to season your food can help reduce excessive salt intake. Those following a Heart Healthy diet, DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet, or simply monitoring their sodium intake will benefit from the addition of herbs and spices when cooking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day! Incorporating herbs and spices to season foods can decrease sodium intake and help you stay within the recommended sodium guidelines.

Have fun experimenting with different herb and spice blends and discover your family’s favorites! Try using different blends for different food items, and even make your own blends by drying fresh herbs from the garden.

Pots of herbs

Herb and Spice Recommendations by Food

  • Poultry: parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage
  • Beef: cloves, hot pepper, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, garlic
  • Fish: fennell, dill, tarragon, thyme, parsley, garlic
  • Vegetables: chives, basil, tarragon, mint, parsley, rosemary, dill
  • Eggs: curry, dry mustard, paprika, parsley, basil

For more information on herbs, check out ISU Extension and Outreach’s Seasoning Savvy publication.

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