Do you remember a time when you survived an entire winter without being struck with the flu or cold? Has the flu and colds become so normal that you can't even remember life without them?

There's a reason so many of us can guarantee sickness will find us when flu season arrives. Our neglected and depleted immune systems give viruses and bacteria open invitations to take up residence within our bodies. Instead of nourishing and protecting our natural defenses, we run to antibiotics and other harmful drugs every time we cough, sneeze, or get a fever.

Unfortunately, when our immune systems take a hit, we become vulnerable to more sickness, infection, and disease. Until you improve your immunity, sickness will be a regular visitor in your life. If you want to take control of your health and stop being a victim of each season's bug, then read on to learn how you can give your immune system the kick in the pants it needs.

Foods for a Stronger Immune System

Your diet has a significant impact on your immune system. Start off flu season by introducing foods into your diet that will restore your immunity and prevent you from getting sick.

You can give your immunity a powerful boost just by adding astragalus to your meals. It'll improve your resistance to bacterial infection and viruses. Eating astragalus can also lessen the frequency of colds.

Alfalfa is small but mighty when it comes to health benefits. It's rich in nutrients and minerals. It's been reported to reverse the immune-suppression caused by chemotherapy drugs. It's also a popular remedy to fight asthma and respiratory conditions. Eat the sprouts, or the grass, or opt for a supplement version.

Sea buckthorn berries have potent antioxidant properties and they contain beneficial nutrients, vitamins, and flavanoids -- all of which are important for immunity.

With Vitamins  C, K, and E, this nutritional berry enhances the immune system. Vitamin E helps activate natural killer cells, which destroy harmful microorganisms in the body. Sea buckthorn can be found in the form of an oil or powder, both of which are taken orally. Consume these vibrant orange berries in one form or other to increase the production of bacteria-destroying white blood cells, build immunity, and stave off infection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Eat Vitamin A-rich foods daily to improve a poor immune system. Vitamin A plays a vital role in immune system function and people with a deficiency in Vitamin A are more susceptible to sickness. Sources of Vitamin A-rich foods include collard greens, kale, chard, spinach, tomato, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other vibrant orange and dark green fruits and vetetables.

While you're at it, become friends with broccoli, cauliflour, and other cruciferous vegetables to increase immune response. These vegetables contain a chemical that activates antioxidants within immune cells and this will help protect your immune system from being under attack so often.

Indulge in seafood for more often to lower your susceptibility to bacterial infection, particularly wild and smoked salmon, mackerel, and tuna.

Evidence has shown that Vitamin B2 improved mice's resistance to bacterial infections. If seafood isn't an option for you, eggs are another source of Vitamin B2.

Incorporate coconut into your diet more often and your immune system will strengthen. Coconut contains lauric acid, which is also found in breast milk and known for fighting off hamrful organisms and strengthening the immune systems of babies. Consume fresh, organic coconut or organic, unrefined coconut oil on a regular basis.

While it isn't considered a food, pine needles deserve credit for their amazing nutritional profile and immune system benefits. They're rich in flavanoids, antioxidants, and Vitamins A and C. A cup of pine needle tea is reported to contain five times the amount of Vitamin C as lemons.

Pine needles contain anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, and even anti-tumor properties, according to one report. The properties also make them perfect for speeding the healing of colds and the flu.  To make the tea, remove the brown ends, then chop up a handful of the needles and start brewing.

Herbs

Elderberry is a natural anti-viral that has been shown to protect against and treat influenza A and B viruses. It's often used to stimulate and improve the immune system of people taking immune suppressing drugs. Black elderberry extract can prevent infection and the growth of bacteria. Stay ahead of the flu and colds by taking it before flu and cold season arrives. Having this natural remedy on-hand will also ensure you'll be prepared if anyone in your household does come down with the influenza virus, sinusitis, or colds as it treats the miserable symptoms that accompany these bugs.

St. John's Wort is most commonly known as a mood-improving supplement, but this herb also gives strength to a lowered immune system.

Sources:

Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.  Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Department of Virology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel. Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.

The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: Inflammatory cytokines. Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman (Immunology Laboratory for Tumor Diagnosis, Department of Oncology, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel).

Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, Mumcuoglu M. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9. Department of Virology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.

http://inl.asia/resources-main-navigation-bar/three-scientific-papers-on-sambucol-elderberry-extract-and-the-flu

Yu Let et al., Effects of Hippophae rhamnoides juice on immunologic and antitumor functions, 1993 Acta Nutrimenta Sinica 15(3): 280-283.

Comparison of Methods for Proanthocyanidin Extraction from Pine (Pinus Densiflora) Needles and Biological Activities of the Extracts.  Kim, Nam-Young et al. Nutrition Research and Practice 4.1 (2010): 16–22. PMC. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2830409/