Cold and flu season is just around the corner, but, for some reading this, it has already hit in full force! The immune system plays a powerful role in our body; it’s constantly on guard, attacking and destroying foreign invaders likes bacteria and viruses and ensuring we don’t get sick.
Certain things are beneficial for our immune system and help ensure we have a fighting chance at warding off any germs we come into contact with. I’ve put together a list of my top five favorites for promoting optimal functioning of the immune system and to help remain cold and flu-free naturally during the colder months to follow:
Sleep. It is the most important gift you can give your body. Most of our cellular regeneration happens in the dark of night, and getting a solid eight to nine hours of sleep allows the immune cells to work at full capacity.
Wash your hands — this probably doesn’t need to be expanded upon! Our first line of defence against viruses and bacteria is our skin. By washing frequently throughout the day with hot water and soap, and avoiding touching our mucus membranes (nose, mouth, eyes) with dirty hands, we’re helping to cut down on the amount of work our immune system needs to do.
Decrease sugar and processed foods (this includes alcohol). Studies have shown one spoonful of sugar is a powerful immunosuppressant, decreasing our immune system’s functioning for hours. I don’t know about you, but I want mine in tip-top shape all day long! Purchase foods in their whole form and eat more heated/warmed foods during the colder months. A diet high in antioxidants — filled with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables — will go a long way toward preventing both acute and chronic illness.
Optimize your natural intestinal flora (healthy bacteria in your gut). Many people aren’t aware of this, but the functionality of our immune cells are very dependent on the health of our digestive tract – over 75% of our lymph nodes reside in and around our gut, protecting our body from any invaders sneaking across the intestinal wall into our blood stream. Eat plain, organic yogurt and supplement with probiotics. These help regulate our natural flora, which will ultimately play a large role in strengthening our immune system.
Vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc and selenium are my favorites for helping support the immune cells during the cold and flu season. In higher doses, for short periods of time, these can stop a cold or flu dead in its tracks, but caution should be taken with high doses — speak with your health care provider.
If you find yourself constantly sick or you have a tendency to catch whatever is going around, there are probably more issues at play. Blood sugar imbalance, poor adrenal and thyroid function, and food allergies (among others) can all lead to a chronically weak immune state. Schedule a consult with a naturopathic physician in order to address the root cause so that you too can stay healthy all season long!
Dr. Sacha Elliott, ND has a family practice in North Vancouver at Canopy Integrated Health. She focuses on motivating, educating and empowering her patients to create balance in their physical, mental and emotional health. Around this time of year she can be found sipping herbal tea, making hearty vegetable stews, and taking her vitamins. www.drsachaelliott.com.
Courtesy of My Yoga Online.
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