As we are coming up on cold and flu season, we want to share some of the very best ways to boost your immune system and protect yourself from all those bad bugs. The flu shot often proves to be less effective than we would all like, but luckily there are some great things that we can do to minimize our risk of getting stuck in bed for a week this winter:
1. Vitamin D
One primary goal of the flu vaccine is to increase CD8 T cell production so we either don’t get sick or experience only mild flu symptoms. Interestingly, vitamin D is also known to have a direct immune-modulating effect on CD8 T cells. Vitamin D is an important player in overall healthy immune function, and also has its own antimicrobial properties, so it is able to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Recommended dose: at least 2,000 – 5,000 IU/day
2. Ditch the Sugar
Minimize refined sugars, refined/processed grains, and other processed foods. Sugars and processed grains can act as fertilizer for pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi that can set your immune system up for attack by the flu and other respiratory viruses.
3. Good vs. Bad (Good wins!)
Get plenty of beneficial bacteria in the foods you eat. It’s worth noting that each mouthful of fermented food (like homemade sauerkraut) can provide trillions of beneficial bacteria—far more than you can get from a probiotics supplement, which will typically provide you with colony-forming units in the billions.
4. Sleep Does Your Body Good
A lack of sleep can assault the immune system in a number of ways. Your goal should be to get 7-9 hours of restful, unfragmented sleep each night.
5. Cut Stress
Managing your stress is a fool-proof way to take your immune system up a notch. Make sure you take advantage of the beautiful weather outside and maybe even take your shoes off at times to get the grounding benefit. If you need help teaching your body how to manage stress better, try a meditation app like headspace or make an appointment to try out our new heart rate variability biofeedback machine in our office.
6.Exercise Can Help You Have a Flu-Free Flu Season
Studies have shown that staying active can cut the risk of contracting a cold by 50 percent, and cut the severity of symptoms by 31 percent if you do catch a cold. The researchers noted that each round of exercise may lead to a boost in circulating immune system cells that could help ward off a virus.
7. Boost Your Healthy Fat Intake
Take a High-Quality Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in fish oil and krill oil.
8. Wash the Right Way
Wash your hands regularly (and vigorously!), but avoid using conventional antibacterial soap. Pay special attention to under the fingernails, where most of the pathogens like to hang out. And daily nasal (neti pot) and eye flushing can help clear out many of the bad bugs.
9. Use Natural Immune-Boosters
Examples include oil of oregano and garlic, both of which offer effective protection against a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance and the development of ‘super germs.’