There is no doubt about it that the hectic holiday season can lead to stress. Stress can lead to a compromised immune system. Less sleep, overindulging and being around large groups of people can all increase the likelihood of illness, and no one wants to be sick during the holidays! In the follow up after Christmas and New Year, try boosting your immune system naturally. Prevention is always better than a cure, and luckily there are many things you can do to give your body a fighting chance against common infections, even though we often think of them as winter bugs, they can strike at any time when your immune system has been lowered through stress.
Raw garlic is one of the most potent of all foods. Garlic has been used for thousands of years for treatment and illness and more recent studies have indeed supported the claims that garlic does boost the body’s immune system. Cooking garlic can destroy some of its health-promoting compounds so the best way to start including it into your diet is by adding freshly chopped garlic to your meals. If you can’t quite stomach raw garlic, you can also try taking garlic capsules. You can also find organic aged garlic capsules on the market now that offer an even higher dosage of immune boosting properties.
Vitamin C is an extremely important nutrient for boosting immunity. You can add vitamin C to your diet in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage and parsley. Vitamin C increases the activity of infection-fighting white blood cells. Vitamin C not only assists in preventing the common cold, it has also been shown to lessen the duration of the symptoms if you do fall ill.
Zinc may be the most important mineral for your immune system. A Zinc deficiency can cause a weakened immune response, predisposing you to a more lengthy or severe cold. In fact, optimal zinc levels have been found to inhibit the common cold virus. Zinc is found in foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, dairy foods, eggs, legumes and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Taking a zinc supplement can also be beneficial.
Avoid inflammatory and processed foods will support your immune system greatly. Try to also avoid fried foods, high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, trans fats or chemical additives. These foods all cause inflammation in the body and their acidic nature requires the body to work overtime to expel their harmful effects. Foods and substances such as alcohol, coffee and excessive meat consumption also take a big toll on the body- so try to limit these foods as much as possible. Wheat and dairy foods are also major culprits in causing internal inflammation and disrupting normal gut function. Try including dairy substitutes such as almond milk or coconut yogurt and try wheat substitutions such as quinoa, buckwheat, rice or spelt.
Natural supplements are now commonly available that help to boost your immune system. There are some key herbs that naturopaths and herbalists commonly use and advise to offer protection against infection, including astragalus, andrographis, Echinacea and olive leaf. When a cold or flu strikes, try using natural supplements to help support and boost your body’s natural immune function. Both the common cold and flu are caused by viruses and what many people may not realise is that antibiotics are not able to kill viruses; they are only able to help with bacterial infections.
Believe it or not, taking time out to rest and relax does wonders for our immune system! Stress plays a vital role in our bodies’ immune function and can be a leading cause in all kinds of illness from the common cold to more serious and life-threatening disease. If you do fall ill, make sure you take time out rather than pushing through. The body needs time to heal, rest and recuperate. If you do not listen to your body and fight on before you properly heal, chances are you will face an ongoing battle with infection.
Try Increasing your water intake to eight glasses per day. Dehydration will inhibit the body’s ability to flush out stored toxins and also leave you with a sluggish digestion. If you find that you are drinking less water than your needs, try switching to herbal tea.
Vitamin D can be powerful in strengthening of your immune system. The sun is the absolute best source of vitamin D however you can also take natural vitamin D either cod liver oil or an oil-based D3. The best food sources of natural vitamin D are egg yolks, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, organic meats, and some mushrooms. However getting outside into the fresh air and sunshine is always the best option! So enjoy whenever you can!
Alternatively, if you or someone you know has a immune issues, you are welcome to book in to see me in clinic for either a full naturopathic consultation or a fifteen minute Q & A session to get an idea about my naturopath approach to treating these issues. See www.embracinghealth.com.au/naturopath for details.