Baby, It’s Cold Outside!!! – How to Build a Strong Immune System in Winter Months
As winter in Austin Texas heads into the stretch run of cold grey, and an occasional sunny-warmer day, there is a higher percentage of patients who begin to come in the office saying, “Dr. D, I’m sick. What should I do? What are your recommendations?”
Ultimately, it’s best to treat your body well and keep your immune system strong so you can avoid getting getting sick over the winter– but this is not always the case and it’s also important to understand that catching a cold or getting the flu is not necessarily a bad thing either.
A healthy immune system doesn’t mean you’ll never catch anything (although you’ll catch much less of what’s going around if you are healthy), but it means that if you do catch a bug and your immune system is doing its job, you’ll have milder symptoms and get over it quicker.
Your body is an incredible complex of systems all working together. And your immune system is interactive, totally integrated, and constantly communicating with the other systems of your body. How those systems communicate plays a part in producing you and your current state of health.
So, if you do ‘get sick’ and your body’s fighting something, what can you do?
7 Steps to Boosting Your Immune System:
No Sugar – Simply put, sugar cripples your immune system. Your body uses Vitamin C in your immune system to fuel your white blood cells. It fights colds to cancer sores to cancer. Sugar, or glucose, in the blood stream will compete with Vitamin C to get into your cells. Less Vitamin C in the cells means an impaired ability of the white blood cells to sweep up and kill bacteria.
Sugar also robs your body of nutrients like zinc, which is important factor in your body’s ability to fight infection. Sugar suppresses your immune system.
Drink Water – How many times do I ask whether or not you’re hydrated? Water is absolutely essential and critical for all cell functions in your body.
Dehydration promotes the production of Histamines, which are the mucus promoters in your body. So dehydration causes mucus, inflammation, and swelling. Whether we are fighting something, whether we are in the best health of our lives. We want to be fully hydrated. All of the time, not simply sometimes!
Best practice for daily requirements of water is to divide your weight in half and drink that number in ounces every day.
Eat Fermented Foods — f you are serious about boosting your immunity, then adding traditionally fermented foods is essential.
One of the most healthful fermented foods is kefir. Kefir is an ancient cultured, enzyme-rich food full of friendly microorganisms that balance your “inner ecosystem” and strengthen immunity. Besides kefir, other good fermented foods include natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt (watch for sugar), and olives.
Friendly bacteria have a powerful, beneficial effect on your gut’s immune system, your first line of defense against pathogens, and aid in the production of antibodies.
Go nuts over coconuts —
Besides being excellent for your thyroid and your metabolism, coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which converts in your body to monolaurin. Monolaurin is the actual compound found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immunity.
A great deal of research has been done establishing the ability of lauric acid to enhance immunity. This medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) actually disrupts the lipid membranes of offending organisms.
When selecting coconuts and coconut oil, make sure you choose organic ones that are unrefined, unbleached, made without heat processing or chemicals, and are non-GMO.
The coconut oil we have in the office is a perfect choice and one of the best around!
Get Plenty of Rest – The immune system requires a lot of energy to work. When you notice that you’re tired, your appetite is suppressed, and you’re low on energy, your body is diverting energy to your immune system. Instead of taking drugs so you can rush off to work, listen to your body and get some rest. Stay home, stay warm, allow your body to use the energy to feed your immune system, and get healthy. When you sleep, your body is rebuilding new, healthy tissues. Staying up late only slows down this process.
Eat Simple – Your energy needs to go to your immune system, not your digestive system, when you’re fighting something. stay away from pro inflammatory foods such as dairy, gluten, wheat and refined grains. They promote mucus build up and inflammation.
Eat plenty of whole foods, like vegetables which are loaded with water and the phytonutrients your body needs. And if you’re only going to eat a small amount of food, make sure it’s nutrient dense food that will bring energy and life into your system.
Also, be careful to not load up on too many fruits– as they contain a lot more sugar than we’d like you to have while your fighting something.
Boost Your Supplements – Supplements are exactly that…supplemental, not a Replacement to whole foods. While supplements will never be as good as wholefood, they do have their place in enhancing how our body’s work!
Supplements helps because our lives are so fast, stress is greater than ever, and it’s hard to get all the foods we need in our diet every day.
Whole food supplement – for multivitamins Of course last month I talked about the Vemma Liquid Multi we now offer. This is my new go to supplement and by far a superior product than most I’ve come across.
Probiotic – to replenish the normal bacteria in your gut. Probiotics come in a variety of sorts– and I’d recommend that you get a Full Spectrum probiotic which contains more than 1 or 2 strains of bacteria!
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) – decreases inflammation and builds up the immune system
Vitamin D – it’s critical to your immune response. Get sunlight, spend time outside, or supplement with a natural source.
Zinc – great for the upper respiratory tract and fighting infections.
Get your Sweat on — Make this special tea from a combination of herbs that synergistically cause your body to sweat — which is very desirable if you want to eradicate a virus from your system. And then drink it hot and often:
- Elderflower (this has been used for hundreds of years for flu)
- Boneset (eupatorium)
Let Your Body Fight – Your immune system will get stronger and smarter if you let your body fight. If you interfere and
suppress it because it’s more important for you to be comfortable rather than healthy, your body will get weaker and not be able to defend itself properly in future attacks.
Chiropractic Adjustments – Nerve irritation suppresses your immune function. Specific Chiropractic adjustments decrease nerve irritation, restore balance in your body, and restore your parasympathetic (rest and repair) state. Adjustments increase your white blood cell count; it’s measurable.
Chiropractic patients have been shown to have a 200% greater immune competence than people not under chiropractic care. Getting adjusted boosts your immune system.
What kind of body are you building?
How you live your life, the choices that you make everyday, will determine the health and vitality of your systems, including your immune system. Every single decision we make in our life will either move us closer towards health or move us closer towards sickness, disease, and death.
What choices will you make to boost your immune function AND your health?