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Prepare Your Immune System for the Winter Season

Last month I discussed the concept that individual susceptibility to diseases, viruses and microorganisms can depend on certain conditions. Conditions that can increase our susceptibility are faulty diet and poor nutrition, chronic hyperventilation, inactivity, environmental toxins, drugs, electromagnetic pollution, negative thoughts/emotions, emotional trauma, and structural imbalances. While exposure to some of these factors is difficult or even impossible to control, we can control the foods we put into our system on a daily basis. Healthy eating provides the nutrients needed for optimal health and is of paramount importance.

Here are some guidelines for a person who is generally healthy, but would like to optimize the health of their immune system.

  1. Avoid excess sugars added to foods. Naturally occurring sugar in fruit (fructose) is great because fruit also contains valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber. Sugars added to foods or desserts are undesirable. Sugar is a powerful immune suppressant and immune disruptor. I find it interesting that during the colder seasons, we have many “sugar” holidays including Halloween, Christmas and Easter, and this is the time when people typically get sick more often. Try avoiding sugar and you will notice a difference.
  2. Eat 50-75% alkaline-forming foods. Cells in your body including white blood cells prefer a slightly alkaline environment for optimal function. Alkaline-forming foods are most fruits and vegetables, some seeds and nuts (i.e. almonds, pumpkin and flax seeds). Acid forming foods are all animal products dairy, eggs, meat, grains, beans, sugar and alcohol.
  3. Optimize digestion. Efficient digestion is key to health. The first and most important step is chewing well and to be relaxed while eating. Take a deep breath and enjoy every bite. In order for our own enzymes to digest food optimally there are some general food-combining guidelines to follow. Ideally, eat fruit alone either a half hour before meals or 2 hours after. Avoid meat and starch combinations (i.e. meat and potato or pasta). Eat vegetables with either starch foods (starchy vegetables,  grains) or protein foods.

Supplementation is an essential way to counteract the effects of low quality food intake, poor food choices or in times of high stress.

Nutrients to assist immunity:

Zinc-citrate 25-50mg/day.

Good to supplement as most people are deficient. Helps fortify the white blood cells.

Vitamin A.

Anti-viral activity and helps maintain and repair mucous membranes.  Abundant naturally in cooked yellow vegetables (carrots, yams, squash) and leafy greens. Therapeutic doses are up to 90,000iu per day for short periods (less than one month). Maintenance dose 20,000iu per day. Do not use unsupervised if you have liver disease or are pregnant.

Copper (Gammadyn or Labcatal) liquid trace mineral.

Great for infections that start with a sore throat. It can halt the progression very quickly. Anti-microbial. Do not take for longer than 1 week at a time.

Homeopathic Remedies:

Influenza Prevention Protocol.

Thymuline 9CH and Mucococcinum (Unda). Starting in October, take one dose of each weekly for 4 weeks and then take one dose of  each a month later. Repeat this cycle in January.

There are many other ways to assist the immune system, but these are the simplest and the most effective for most people. Other factors that may need to be addressed are low adrenal function, digestion and elimination, and general toxicity. For a personalized protocol, contact a naturopathic doctor.

Written by Kathleen Finlay , BScH, N.D., Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

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