Natural ways to support your immune system and reduce infection
Natural support is the best way to keep your immune system strong and healthy to improve your resistance and resilience to infection.
Now we are in Autumn, the cold weather is upon us, increasing our susceptibility to virus' and infections. So this is the perfect time of year to bring in some simple ways to support your immune system and keep you and your family healthy.
1. Nutritional Medicine
It is essential that we are getting optimal amounts of the key nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc etc
These nutrients are key players in keeping your immune function optimal, increasing your resilience to infection and improving your bodies capacity to fight infection.
Diet and lifestyle factors are key to supporting a healthy immune system, eating a varied plant rich diet full of antioxidants will ensure you are receiving adequate supply of the main minerals and vitamins, however good quality supplementation is sometimes necessary to lift up any deficiencies and to support if you are sick.
2. Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids
This well known immune boosting nutrient is also a powerful antioxidant, providing support to your immune system and protecting your bodies healthy tissues from oxidative damage.
Some of the best Vitamin C containing foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory through their bioflavonoid content include: Berries, citrus fruits, capsicum, kiwi fruit and broccoli.
During this time we are living in, a quality Vitamin C supplement is a great idea to bring in that extra protection. It is also great to take as soon as you start feeling run down or if you are coming down with something.
3. Vitamin D
Now, when it comes to Vitamin D, even in a sunny country such as Australia, many people are low in this essential nutrient. Have you had your Vitamin D levels checked recently with the GP? Optimal Vitamin D levels should be above 100, this is not demonstrated through standardised GP testing which states below 50 as a deficiency state, which is certainly not optimal.
Vitamin D is an important anti-inflammatory, hormonal regulator and immune boosting nutrient. Quality supplementation is essential if your levels are under 100 and your prescribed daily dose would be dependent on your test results. However, again if you feel as if you are coming down with something a daily dose of 5000iu would certainly boost your immune system and help you to fight infection.
Most Vitamin C supplements will contain Zinc as these are your 2 key essentials for immune support. Zinc is essential for boosting your immune system, helping you to fight infection, for all kinds of healing.
A daily dose of 30mg of Zinc is a good immune boost, this should be taken with food, Zinc supplements can make you feel nauseous if taken on an empty stomach.
Good Zinc containing foods include pumpkin seeds, oysters and legumes.
Lifestyle factors play a major role in the health of your body and your immune system. Stress is one of the biggest immune system suppressants, therefore reducing stress levels and anxiety are essential to support healthy immune function. How could you balance your stress levels? Here are a few suggestions:
Exercise is a great stress reliever, 30 minutes daily will give you great support.
Magnesium is an important nervous system mineral, Magnesium deficiency will cause poor sleep and low resilience to stress.
Herbal medicines, such as lemon balm, lavender and oats help to support a healthy nervous system and reduce stress levels.
Yoga and meditation help to balance your mind and reduce overthinking, which is a common cause of elevated stress levels.
Plus, staying hydrated is important for overall wellbeing, try to drink at least 2 litres of fresh filter or spring water daily. Avoid tap water to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals such as Aluminium and Chlorine.
6. Herbal Medicine
The healing power of plants, mother nature's medicine chest is the best healer, there are some amazing herbs to boost your immune system and help your body to fight infection.
These can be added to the diet, such as ginger, lemon and turmeric and drunk as herbal teas or taken as herbal tinctures for an extra boost, these can be tailored made and blended for you for individualised support.
Some of the key immune boosting herbs include:
Echinacea is a key immune booster, activating white blood cels numbers and actions. It is also a powerful lymphatic herb, your lymph system is your immune system, therefore helping to mobilise your immune cells and also clearing away toxins produced in the body by active pathogens.
Astragalus has the capacity to boost your immune system and lift your energy levels, improving your resilience, preventing you from getting sick. It is an essential herb for the treatment of acute infections. It is also a key herb for any kind of chronic infection or post viral fatigue. I have often used this herb successfully to help lift energy, alleviate fatigue and suppress any viral load after Ross River virus, EBV etc which can be players in chronic fatigue syndrome.
Elderberry is naturally high in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, making it a powerful antioxidant. This is a key anti-viral herb and is a mucus membrane tonic helping to reduce inflammation and mucus production particularly through the upper respiratory tract.
As everything begins in the gut including the regulation of our immune systems, there are particular strains of bacteria that support immune function.
It can be overwhelming to determine which supplement may be right for you. As a qualified and accredited Naturopath and Herbalist, I can help support your individual needs with the best solutions for your ultimate health and well-being