Here are three of the best spices to help increase your immune system function and fight viruses and inflammation.

With cold and flu season in full force, having a healthy immune system is critical.  Unfortunately, often over-the-counter cold and flu remedies come with unpleasant side-effects that can disrupt your digestion, energy levels and sleep. Prolonged use of some of these medications can even cause more long-term side effects.

The good news is there are many natural alternatives that can give your immune system the boost it needs to combat cold and flu season. For centuries, people have used spices to increase their immune function. You can add them to your favorite dishes for a kick of flavor and give your immune system a boost at the same time.

Here are three of the best spices to help increase your immune system function and fight viruses and inflammation:

  1. Turmeric – This trendy spice is all the rage right now and for good reason. This powerful and flavorful ancient spice gets its vibrant color from curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory compound with properties rivaling that of ibuprofen, without the side effects.

    Turmeric comes from the root of a flowering plant of the ginger family and has been used medicinally for more than 4,500 years. The active ingredient, curcumin, boosts the body’s antioxidant capacity by being highly effective against free radicals.

  2. Ginger – Common in kitchens just about everywhere, ginger is filled with nutritional properties that benefit your health. Originating from China, ginger contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes that target cold viruses. This immune-boosting spice also has antibacterial properties that can help prevent nausea.

    Ginger also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that help control the process of aging, aid digestion and demonstrate the potential to treat degenerative disorders, as well as cardiovascular disease.

  1. Cinnamon – You’re sure to have this spice in your cabinet. Cinnamon has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, its use has been dated as far back as ancient Egypt.

    Cinnamon fights inflammation and helps ward off infections and heal damaged tissue. Containing large amounts of polyphenol, cinnamon outranked “superfoods” like garlic and oregano in a study comparing the antioxidant benefits of 26 spices. Some studies have also shown that Cinnamon may have anti-diabetic effects and can help reduce the risk of heart disease.