With Winter upon us I am often asked what is the best way to prevent those pesky infections that plague so many of us this time of the year. Luckily, there are plenty of natural alternatives to conventional medicines such as antibiotics and over the counter ‘cold and flu’ remedies. Whilst these may be appropriate for some, antibiotics are best avoided, if possible, due to their potential risks.
- Limit sugar! This means sugar in all its forms, e.g. rice, flour, refined grains, fruit juice, soda, puddings and lollies etc. After eating refined sugar your immune system is suppressed for hours.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially warm ones like herbal teas and homemade vegetable soups or a bone broth drink. These fluids help your immune system function better. Keep a filtered water bottle with you wherever you go and sip it frequently.
- Eat protein with every meal and snack, as protein helps your detox and immune systems work better. The protein can be plant-based (e.g. nuts, seeds, legumes) or organic grass-fed animal protein.
- Eat plenty of vegetables (especially in a rainbow of colours) as they are high in vitamins that are required by the immune system. You can also attain these vitamins from fruit but due to the fructose (sugar) content of them, limit fruit to a maximum of 2 pieces/day.
- Adding natural flavourings such as ginger, garlic, onions, and spices helps add extra anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents to your meals.
- The immune system can be boosted by regular mild to moderate exercise (of about 30-45 minutes each time). When you are feeling run down/like you are coming down with an infection avoid moderate-severe exertion as this will suppress your immune system.
- Sleep repairs you and your immune system. Check out my sleep top tips blogs here: http://drwellness.co.nz/2016-top-sleep-tips/
- Daily saline nasal flushes help protect you from infections. Your pharmacy will have devices to help you flush your nasal passages.
Below is a list of the supplements I recommend for supporting your immune system.
- A good quality multivitamin/mineral: This will ensure you get the basic vitamins and minerals your body needs for essential process including immune function. I use Thorne Extra Nutrients at this time of the year and a different product in the summer.
- Fish Oil: These boost the immune system in a number of ways, as well as having other health benefits. I use the Nordic Naturals Pro-or Ultimate Omega because they don’t contain any heavy metal impurities like most brands.
- Probiotics: These will repopulate your gut with healthy ‘bugs’ that act as a barrier against bad ‘bugs’ and is part of the immune system. The best probiotics are ones that contain several species of good bacteria and at least 10 billion ‘bugs’ per dose. I use various products from the Xymogen range.
- Vitamin C: There is very powerful evidence that vitamin C supports the immune system. Extra vitamin C is also recommended if you develop as ‘cold’ or ‘flu’ and the best way is in the form of a vitamin C infusion. It’s how I cured my pneumonia last year without antibiotics! For oral Vitamin C I take Researched Nutritionals C-RLA as it is absorbed better than most Vitamin C’s and is also formulated with R-lipoic acid which helps recycle the vitamin C.
- Vitamin D3 (ideally with vitamin K2): If you have a vitamin D deficiency you are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu. Supplementing with vitamin D over the winter is critical for optimal immune. You MUST however get your vitamin D levels tested first so that the dose can be targeted to you, as it is possible to overdose on vitamin D. I take the Thorne Vit D/K2 liquid.
- Zinc: The best form is zinc picolinate. I use the Thorne zinc product.
- Beta Glucans: This supports overall immunity. They also help your body’s’ first line of defense against viruses and bacteria and aid your white blood cells to bind to and kill viruses and bacteria.
There are other supplements I recommend but they cannot be used in those people with autoimmune diseases, e.g. some thyroid diseases and rheumatoid arthritis etc.
- Herbs/mushrooms/extracts: Those that are immune boosting or anti-microbial include astragalus, elderberry, beta glucans, green tea extract, certain mushrooms, echinacea, goldenseal, cordycap, and andrographis.
A really important take home message about supplements and immune boosting is that treatment protocols (even if just used for prevention) need to be tailored to the individual. If you would like more information regarding specific protocols to help you become optimally well and avoid illness including infections please contact us at 0508 4 WELLNESS or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also let us know your immune boosting success stories.