Boosting Your Immune System Naturally
Boosting the immune system is something we should all consider now that fall is fast approaching. The flu has certainly run its course this summer with local, national and international reports of the H1N1 virus (commonly called Swine Flu) and strains we have not seen before. The good news is that you can do something about your vulnerability to the flu and other illnesses that can leave you feeling sick and weak for days.
Boosting your immune system naturally can be divided into three sections: diet, internal/external stressors and supplementation.
The first step to boosting your immune system, and the one I believe is most powerful, is to address unhealthy eating habits that can impair your immune system’s response. The goal is to eliminate or drastically limit foods that create inflammation and cause your body to work overtime to heal. These foods are anything with added sugar, including most packaged and processed foods. Excessive sugar consumption alone can cut overall immune activity in half for a period of time following the consumption. Start reading labels and you’ll see that sugar is added to so many foods—even those that sound healthy, like fruit juices.
Excessive alcohol intake can also burden the detoxification system and limit the immune process. Inadequate intake of proteins that help produce antibodies in the body and a diet low in whole grains and/or colorful foods (fruits and veggies) will leave one low in zinc, selenium and vitamins C, E and A—all important for a healthy immune system.
The second step is to eliminate or cut back on internal and external stressors. Toxic stress (constant busyness, emotional stress, anger, etc.) is recognized as one of the most significant destroyers of the immune system. High stress leads to elevated cortisol production; this results in an immune-suppressed state, increasing one’s susceptibility to infections and illness. Additionally, food allergies or gastrointestinal tract imbalances such as fructose intolerance or Candida, can also lead to compromised immunity. Ask your health care provider to test for allergies or imbalances if you have ongoing digestive tract symptoms.
The third step is to incorporate supplements and herbal remedies to help support your immune function.
- Vitamin C: Excellent support to fight infections from viruses or other pathogens. It can also help reduce the duration of illness, virus or the common cold.
- Mixed Carotonoid complex: This can be used preventatively to strengthen the immune system.
- Zinc: Low zinc levels compromise the function of white blood cells, which are part of the body’s defense system.
- Vitamin D: This supplement should be used year-round with higher doses in winter and spring months. This alone can help fight off exposure to viruses. Having Vitamin D levels checked annually will help determine your supplementation needs.
- Goldenseal: Contains an alkaloid that has an antimicrobial activity that works against many organisms; it also stimulates your immune system.
- Astragalus: A Chinese herb used for improving the body’s resistance to disease.
- Echinacea: This is a potent stimulant to the immune system and can work as an antibacterial and anti-viral agent.
- Flavonoids: Quercetin, bioflavonoids and green tea polyphenols have been referred to as nature’s immune booster. They can help the body’s reaction to allergens, viruses and toxic chemicals.
Start getting your body prepared now for the bugs that may cross your path this winter. A high-powered immune system is the best way to squash them.