garlicpieces 263x164 4 Foods to Naturally Prevent Colds, Cough, and Respiratory InfectionsCoughs, colds, and illnesses in general are more common in cold winter months, as we stay out of the sun, producing little to no vitamin D, and stay indoors exchanging germs with everyone. Though spring is around the corner, boosting your immune system to fight potential respiratory infections is never a bad idea. You don’t have to wait to treat a cold or cough when you are in the thick of it – you can use natural means to prevent sickness before it shows up.

The foundation of preventing respiratory infections is found in a healthy, strong immune system. If your immune system is functioning properly, you will be able to fight off illnesses with little to no conscious effort on your part. Although there are many factors to consider for strengthening your immune system, such as minimizing stress and avoiding toxins, a healthy immune system starts with the diet.

Eating whole, natural foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and other important plant compounds will nurture a healthy body. Steering clear of highly processed foods including over processed carbs and sugar will create a healing environment within your body, one where illness cannot thrive.

You can also add these 4 natural healers and immune boosters to your repertoire:

1. Kiwi

Kiwi is a natural immune booster containing numerous immune-boosting vitamins and minerals – namely vitamin C. Research has repeatedly shown vitamin C to encourage healthy immune function. One study involving military personnel who lived in close quarters found those who take vitamin C had a significantly lessened risk of contracting the common cold (45-91%) and of contracting pneumonia (80-100%).

Additionally, kiwi has specifically been used in studies to for preventing respiratory issues. One study, published in the journal Thorax, found that those consuming the most citrus and kiwi fruit were 44% less likely than the control group to experience wheezing, 28% less likely to experience runny nose, 25% less likely to have chronic cough, and 32% less likely to have shortness of breath.

2. Garlic

Garlic offers numerous health benefits, one of which is boosting immune function. Researchers have found people who take garlic are less likely to get a cold during peak cold season (between November and February). Also, those who take garlic see symptoms dissipate before those who do not. Use it in your cooking, slice it thin and raw on a salad, or make a bottle of garlic-honey to reap the benefits of this time-honored healer.

3. Oregano

This easily grown herb is packed with antibacterial benefits. This means it can fight infection and can even be used to treat a sinus infection when its steam is inhaled. Its anti-histamine properties can keep allergies under control and it can also ease congestion. Take it in a tea or try oregano oil. Oregano benefits truly are amazing, and the herb is super easy to grow.

4. Echinacea

There’s a reason you find Echinacea tea in nearly every grocery store (and why we mention it multiple times here at NaturalSociety). Why? Because the herb is a time-tested and proven immune booster. Take it at the first sign of a cold and the cold will have a shorter life. Studies suggest the herb has anti-viral properties and can treat everything from sinus infections and ear infections to slow-healing wounds.