This year, the flu, RSV, and COVID are all around. You may be thinking about how you can stay healthy in times when illness is all around. Good news: There are things you can do now to strengthen your immune system. By boosting the body’s defenses, and minimizing inflammation, you can prime your body to mount a strong attack, and improve your odds of having a good outcome in the event of an illness.
Consider Making some Lifestyle Changes:
- Sleep: Yes, the quality of your slumber can improve the health of your immune system. Your sleep is the time when your body does its repair work, so don’t shortchange yourself! Let your doctor know if you have sleep struggles so you can get help with this.
- Exercise: Research clearly shows that people who stay active are much less likely to get sick. Moderate exercise increases the production of immune cells and improves your defense against invaders. This is a great reason to start a new fitness habit, but don’t overdo it—very strenuous exercise can be detrimental.
- Healthy Diet: The fuel you put in your body affects the function of your immune system.
- Minimize sugars and refined foods, which increase inflammation and decrease the body’s capacity to fight infection.
- Increase vitamins and minerals that protect the body’s barriers, such as the skin, GI tract, and respiratory surfaces (nose and lungs), which are your first line of defense against germs. Vitamins such as A, C, and D, and minerals such as zinc are especially beneficial. Vitamin A and C sources include leafy greens, and red and orange fruits and veggies, and seeds, nuts, and legumes will add zinc. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, but also easy to take as a supplement.
- Increase potassium-rich foods. Plantains, avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, and coconut water help minimize inflammation.
- Increase healthy fats, which are anti-inflammatory. Good sources include nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.
- Minimize alcohol consumption, which has been shown to weaken host defenses.
- Consider mild intermittent fasting (12 hours a day), which can help reboot your metabolism and immune cells. But this is NOT a good time to start an overly extreme or restrictive diet, which could put the brakes on the body’s healing
Consider using supplements.
- Fundamental GI Tamer: Has some zinc, vitamin A, and glutamine to heal the GI tract lining. A few scoops a day will help strengthen your gut barrier.
- Astragalus Complex (MediHerb): Taking this through the winter is an excellent way to ward off viral infections.
- Immune Support Packs: With ingredients like antioxidants, polyphenols, and high-potency vitamins C, D, and zinc, this arsenal of products is primed to support a healthy immune response as well as cardiovascular function.
- Histashield: This supplement is great for allergies, but the quercetin and vitamin C can also prime your system to resist viruses. There is a children’s version as well (D-Hist Jr).
- Probiotics: There are a number of different types, and they all improve the diversity of the microbiome, which improves the GI tract barrier. Bacillus spore-type probiotics produce some anti-microbial substances, and Saccharomyces Boulardii improves the immune system in the gut.
- Fish Oil: Boosting your intake of healthy fats is a great way to minimize inflammation. You can take these at the start of an illness, but it is better to have them in your system beforehand. Aim to get 1000 mg a day of EPA and DHA combined.
Thinking about all the options available may have you feeling overwhelmed. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our medical doctors to discuss how to improve your sleep or decide which supplements are right to you. If you are looking to optimize your diet, consider meeting with one of our registered dietitians to learn more about supporting your body and immunity through nutrition.