Written by: Dr. Melanie Reidl, ND
How can you prevent contracting your co-worker’s nasty cold this fall? In order to resist infection by bacteria and viruses during cold & flu season, it is important that we strengthen the body’s innate immunity. I’ve seen many patients with a history of repeated colds & flus stay significantly healthier throughout the fall & winter months when they adhere to the following general immune boosting strategies:
1) Eat an Alkaline-forming diet with lots of brightly coloured vegetables + garlic daily
Increasing your daily vegetable intake, and specifically emphasizing dark green and brightly coloured vegetables provides your body with lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support a healthy immune system. Garlic is a powerful natural antimicrobial, so I suggest adding a clove to one of your meals every day if possible!
2) Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, excess alcohol and caffeine
Sugar and refined carbohydrates depress the immune system within hours of consumption, by reducing white blood cell count and activity. Excess alcohol and caffeine have similar effects, while caffeine additionally depletes adrenal function, an important system in maintaining a healthy immune system.
3) Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night & practice stress reduction techniques daily
Obtaining restful and adequate sleep is one of the most important ways to keep your immune system strong. Stress reduction practices such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, and yoga are also essential in helping regulate cortisol levels (your body’s long term stress hormone), which keeps the immune system working effectively.
4) Keep your gut healthy with probiotics and prebiotic foods
Taking probiotics and consuming prebiotic foods will establish a healthier microbial balance in your gastrointestinal tract. Since approximately 80% of your immune system is localized to the gut, maintaining a healthy gut bacterial balance enhances immune function in the body. Please discuss probiotic dosing further with your ND.
5) Start taking Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3, also known as the sunshine vitamin since humans can synthesize it from sun exposure, is an essential vitamin for a healthy immune system. Since we don’t obtain adequate sun exposure during the fall and winter months in this part of the world, supplementation is required. Please discuss appropriate Vitamin D3 dosing with your ND.
There are many other naturopathic immune-enhancing treatments and supplements that may be of benefit to you. Please bring questions or concerns about your immune system to the attention of your ND, who can create and individualize a treatment plan to best support your immune system this fall & winter.