Don’t Ignore Your Immune System Any Longer!
I feel like I have discussed the importance of supporting the immune system for YEARS now, and yet I also feel like some people don’t take the topic seriously enough.
Look, we are headed into cold and flu season and we still have this Corona virus out there. It is MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER to support your immune system so it can protect your health. This is particularly true of you are dealing with cancer or another serious illness. The last thing you need is to get a virus on TOP of what you are already dealing with!!
Your immune system is incredibly powerful. But it requires the right conditions to be able to do its job. So with this in mind, let’s look at some of the ways you can support your immune system in the coming months:
Let’s start with the most obvious nutrient your immune system requires, and that’s vitamin C. Not only is vitamin C an antioxidant, it also is a powerful anti-inflammatory. And since inflammation is the root cause of all disease, you should absolutely make sure you get enough vitamin C each day. It’s hard getting enough C through diet alone, so I always recommend something like C salts, or a C supplement.
Vitamin D is just now starting to get the attention it deserves as it is a miraculous hormone (yes, it’s really a hormone though we call it a vitamin). Vitamin D’s primary function is to help your body maintain optimal levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. But vitamin D also protects you from a respiratory infection. In fact, based on clinical studies published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics, supplementation with vitamin D significantly decreases your chance of developing a respiratory tract infection.
While we can get plenty of vitamin D from the sun (the best source) if you live in colder climates this winter, it’s best that you supplement with 5000 – 10,000 IU daily.
Like vitamin D, the benefits of zinc are only now being fully understood and appreciated. You may have seen commercials for some over-the-counter cold remedies that contain zinc in it. Zinc is notorious for shortening the length of the cold you experience. So if your cold normally lasts 7-10 days, adding zinc into your diet can shorten it to just a few days.
Zinc has the ability to help your immune system produce and activate T-cells, the cells responsible for wiping out disease and illness.
Health experts usually suggest taking some zinc at the first sign of your illness. But why not make sure you are always getting enough zinc in your diet so you can always keep illnesses at bay? Foods rich in zinc include shellfish, red meat, dark chocolate, eggs, nuts and dairy products.
Selenium is an important mineral with a variety of uses, but it is known to help prevent bird flu and swine flu. This mineral also happens to be a pretty potent antioxidant and can give your immune system a major boost. Selenium is found in all varieties of meat as well as nuts, eggs, brown rice, mushrooms and oatmeal.
Omega-3 Fish Oils
Health experts have known for many years of the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids. But it is only recently that some scientists have discovered about their immune enhancing effects. My dear friend, Dr. Barry Sears, (The benefits of EPA and DHA)discovered this decades ago. I have been taking Omega 3’s for 30 years.
It turns out that Omega 3 fish oil enhances B cell activity. B cells are white blood cells. So by making sure you get your omega-3 essential fatty acids each day, you are ensuring your immune system always has B cells doing their job.
Decades of research have now confirmed that polyphenols, powerful plant compounds, have very positive effects on the immune system. Without getting too science-y, the body’s mucosal layer is its first line of defense against invading pathogens. But this layer, over time, can become susceptible to structural abnormalities, which negatively impacts the immune system’s initial response. Polyphenols protect this mucosal layer, thereby helping your immune system to do its job!
To get more polyphenols into your diet, be sure to add berries, dark chocolate, beans, nuts, red onions, spinach, black and green tea and red wine to your diet!
Deal with Your Stress
We can’t talk about boosting your immune system without talking about stress. Because the truth is, chronic stress is the number 1 enemy of your immune system.
I’ve discussed the “fight or flight” response our body has to stress in other blog posts. But to quickly summarize, when we find ourselves in harms’ way, our body has a chemical reaction that helps us either fight the danger or flee from the danger. This automatic response is what helped our ancestors survive attacks by sabre-tooth tigers and such.
But now we don’t have the same kinds of dangers in our environment. We have mortgage payments, tyrannical bosses, COVID-19, working from home stress, and 24/7 media hype! These stressors stay in our environment, which leads to a lengthened chemical response in our body, and that leads to chronic inflammation.
But a prolonged response to stress also suppresses the very immune cells that are needed to fight off infection and illness.
I CANNOT STRESS how important it is to deal with the stress in your life in healthy ways. Meditation is a powerful way to deal with stress. Deep breathing exercises, physical exercise, and spending time in nature are also great ways to deal with stress. And if you find you need to speak to a mental health counselor, do it. Your health is on the line.
If you’re one of my readers that always says, “I know, I know, I should be better about supporting my immune system,” then consider me right now giving you a friendly kick in the pants to just DO IT already!