Your immune system is a complex network of powerful players communicating and working in concert throughout the body to keep you healthy. Supporting the immune system on a variety of fronts will provide you with your best chance for staying flu-free this winter season.
Let’s get started…
Eat an Immune-Enhancing Diet.
Eating a healthy diet is critical to robust immune function and keeping you safe from seasonal invaders. Avoid foods that impair your immune system, such as simple sugars, additives, preservatives, and fried foods. These culprits contribute to inflammation and become an immune suppressant by directly impairing immune cells.
Your body is made up mostly of water and consuming sufficient amounts is required for optimal immune function.
Use More Spices and Seasonings.
Beyond making food tastier, many spices, herbs, and other seasonings also have antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties. A few easy examples to add to your winter fare include garlic, rosemary, and turmeric.
Eat Organic Whenever Possible.
Pesticides and herbicides are immune-impairing additives, so eat organic foods as often as possible.
Avoid Eating too Much.
This is not a simple feat on cold winter nights, but trying to reduce the quantity of food you consume can keep your immune system on track. Metabolizing food creates free radicals; therefore, eating excessive calories exposes your body to more free radical damage, draining your antioxidant reserves and overwhelming your immune system.
Moderate regular exercise (20-30 minutes a day) has a wide range of health benefits, including enhancing immune function. Too much exercise, however, can actually have the reverse effect and suppress the immune system, so don’t overdo it. Consider the following immune benefits of regular exercise:
• Flushing bacteria from the lungs, which decreases risk of airborne illness.
• Flushing carcinogens from the body via urine and sweat.
• Increasing the rate of circulation of antibodies and immune cells throughout the body, which could help the body detect immune threats earlier.
• Elevating body temperature temporarily, which may inhibit bacterial growth and stimulate activity of immune cells.
• Slowing down the release of stress-related hormones, which increase the risk of illness.
When we are exposed to stress, physiological alarms are triggered and chemical signals are released. One of these chemical signals called cortisol actually acts as an immune suppressor, and prolonged elevation of cortisol can lead to impaired immunity making a person more prone to infection. Finding ways to minimize and positively cope with stress can greatly protect immune function.
Healthy immune function requires a multi-dimensional approach. Healthy diet, consistent physical activity and reducing stress can be immensely helpful, but a beleaguered immune system may need some additional support to keep it hearty.
These supplements restore beneficial intestinal bacterial flora, which enhances the activity of immune cells located in the intestines. Probiotics improve the intestine’s immunologic barrier particularly by stimulating antibodies produced in the intestines. If the intestinal antibodies find pathogens, they bind to them and then are excreted out of the body. This process is critical to keeping us disease-free, and also alleviates intestinal inflammation.
Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, as they possess a unique combination of talents that improve our overall health especially related to the fight against viruses and bacteria.
There are dozens of antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables, each of which has its own unique effect on immune function, so load up on veggies and eat fruits high in antioxidants such as berries.
Myer’s Cocktail IV Therapy
This intravenous therapy gives a quick boost to the immune system by providing high doses of vitamins and minerals directly into the bloodstream that are needed for a strong immune reaction. We recommend this therapy for those suffering from a weakened immune system, or when you are feeling as if a cold or flu is setting in.
Remember, although the immune system may be a complex system, keeping it performing at its best doesn’t have to be.
Dr. Thea J. Rabb is a Naturopathic Doctor with Optimal Health Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 568.2598. For an introduction to naturopathic medicine, Optimal Health offers complimentary consultations.