Super Charge Your Immune System // Natural Cold and Flu Prevention
by Nadia KumentasOctober 13, 2016
Sweaters, jackets, scarves… oh my! Although I do love fall (and fall fashion) it's that time of year where there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. A lot of things are going on that place extra stress on our immune system including midterms, assignments, work deadlines, and temperature drops.
Like a well-oiled machine, we can help prime our immune system to tackle what fall and winter bring to the table with a little foresight. Without adequate rest, proper nutrition, and in many cases supplementation of key nutrients, our immune system slowly but surely can start to break down; next thing we know it we're stuck in bed with the flu sniffing and watching Netflix.
I know it can be hard for most of us to maintain an optimal diet and lifestyle 100% of the time, so here are a few things we can do to give our immune systems a little jump start:
Although most research shows that vitamin C is best for treating the common cold, some studies suggest that taking vitamin C (especially those exposed to high amounts of physical stress) may help prevent it as well.
A good place to start is 1000-2000mg/day
Vitamin D is an important immune system modulator that stimulates anti-microbial particles in different cells in our bodies.
Since sunlight is becoming scarce and time spent outdoors is decreasing, vitamin D3 stores are likely to start depleting.
I generally recommend 2000-4000 IU’s/day for adults.
I am a huge fan of zinc. Not only does it help support our immune system, but it contributes to our skin health and adrenal glands which help us deal with stress.
You can get zinc as part of your multivitamin, in lozenges or in tablets. Lozenges are nice because if you start to feel a tickle in your throat they have a direct action in the local area.
Aim for around 30mg/day.
Although it may not be great for your breath, garlic contains an active compound called allicin which has antiviral and immune stimulating properties.
The catch is, heat with cooking can inactivate this powerhouse, so try using raw garlic in salad dressings and soups, or adding it into recipes at the very end.
Echinacea acts as an immunomodulator (regulating the immune system) and antimicrobial and has been shown to reduce the incidence of colds by 58%. It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of colds.
Make sure if you are buying echinacea to get it from your ND., or if purchasing from a health food shop make sure it contains mostly root parts (where all the good stuff is) as opposed to “ariel parts.”
A combination of echinacea purpura and echinaceaaugustofolia is recommended.
Adaptogenic herbs help us do exactly what the name sounds like: "ADAPT". More specifically they help keep our mood and immune system balanced during fluctuating levels of stress (AKA THEY ARE AMAZING).
Withania, ginseng, and astragalus are some of my favourites that all have amazing immune system modulating effects. Another heavy hitter is Schisandra berry which we've included in our Daily Balance, 14 Day Teatox, and 28 Day Teatox blends.
Besides supplementation, there are some basic everyday things we can do to make sure our bodies are ready for the stress that comes with fall and winter:
Staying on top of washing your hands frequently is the easiest way we can stop the spread of viruses (esp. if you are a frequent TTC user)!
Fruits and vegetables
Eating just an apple a day for your fruit and vegetable intake is not enough to keep the doctor away (contrary to popular belief). Make sure your body is constantly receiving the vitamins and minerals that are in fruits and vegetables by eating at least 5-6 servings a day. Remember, the more colorful the better!
Having a hard time making your quota? A great way to increase your veggie intake is with good quality cold-pressed juices, or by sneaking greens into smoothies!
Not getting enough shut-eye makes your immune system less effective when trying to fight off microbes we encounter on a daily basis.
Make sleep a priority and if you need a little help winding down in the evenings try some Nightly Zen to help you get a more restful sleep
Getting regular exercise helps keep our immune systems primed to fight off any oncoming cold or flu as studies show that a moderate level of exercise is associated with a stronger immune system.
Having trouble getting to the gym? Even going for a brisk walk outside, or light exercises indoors will help get your circulation and lymphatic systems moving.
Staying hydrated keeps our mucous membranes, brain, and immune system happy. Try to aim for at least 2-3 liters/day.
Remember coffee and caffeinated teas are dehydrating, so add a cup or two of water BEFORE having your cup of joe to prevent dehydration.
It’s important to begin your flu prevention protocol well before cold weather hits and to maintain it through the end of winter. Starting now and working with a naturopath are great ways to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your immune system in tip-top shape!
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