By: The Wiseman Family Practice
Below are some natural strategies that you can implement today to strengthen your immune system:
Vitamin D3: Vitamin D deficiency weakens your immune system, so have your medical provider monitor your vitamin D levels and vitamin D supplementation. Ideal levels are between 50–90 ng/ml. Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is important year round, especially in the fall and winter months due to the seasonal decrease in UVB-rays. Most adults need to supplement with 5,000 to 10,000 IUs during fall and winter. For children below the age of five, the recommended vitamin D dosage is 20–35 units per pound, per day. The dosage guideline for children ages 5–10 is 700–2,000 units per day. Though it can be challenging to get enough sunlight in the fall and winter months, try to get weekly exposure to sunlight.
Zinc: For adults, take 15–25 mg of zinc daily; however, zinc should only be taken for short periods of time, not on a long-term daily basis.
Vitamin C: Take 1,000 to 3,000 mg daily to help strengthen your body’s natural defenses. Overly loose stools or diarrhea can be a side effect of too much vitamin C. If this occurs, decrease the daily dosage. The optimal individual dose is when your stools are normal.
Magnesium: For adults, take 200–400 mg daily (citrate, malate, chelate, or glycinate form). The dose may need to be divided throughout the day and taken with food, as magnesium may cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea.
Natural immune modulator: For additional immune support, beta-glucans can help optimize the body’s immune function.
Fish oil or krill oil: Boost immune function with fish or krill oil, which are both rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Probiotics: A daily probiotic is an excellent preventive and natural therapy. Look for a multi-strain formula that includes Saccharomyces boulardii (SB), Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. Eating fermented foods, such as kimchi (pickled vegetables), sauerkraut, and fermented pickles, is also a great way to get nature’s probiotics.
Bone broth: Bone broth soup made with pasture-raised chicken and/or grass-fed beef bones provides essential minerals and amino acids.
Garlic: To get the beneficial effects of garlic, consume 1–2 garlic cloves a day and ensure that they are crushed or sliced prior to cooking or consuming.
Anti-inflammatory spices: Add herbs and spices to your diet to help boost your body’s ability to fight inflammation. Cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric are shown to have the most significant impact on inflammation. Other beneficial herbs and spices include cinnamon, paprika, sage, cumin, oregano, thyme, and cayenne.
Anti-inflammatory foods: Cut out all processed foods and decrease sugar intake to under 30 grams a day. Eat a whole food diet that provides key nutrients and antioxidants, including fatty fish rich with omega-3 fatty acids (like wild-caught salmon), walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds (a small serving of 1.5 ounces of nuts each day is good; one handful is roughly one ounce). Vegetables and fruits such as spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, cherries, blueberries, watermelon, papaya, and other colorful fruits are essential. Add shitake mushrooms, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil to your cooking routine.
Purified water: Keep your body hydrated. Start your day with 16 ounces of purified water first thing in the morning and don’t forget to drink water throughout the day.
Immune-boosting teas: Many true teas (e.g., green tea) and herbal teas (e.g., peppermint tea) provide health-promoting properties. Try green tea, Echinacea, elderberry, ginger, or chamomile tea in addition to water.
Sunlight: Sunlight is nature’s way of helping our bodies make vitamin D; however, sunlight has to be balanced for each person, depending on age and individual skin type. At least two to three times a week, try to get 10–15 minutes of sunlight on as much body area as possible (at least 30 to 50% of your body is ideal) and without any type of sunscreen on your skin, unless you have a personal or family history of skin cancer, which prohibits personal sunlight exposure.
Proper sleep: Most adults need 7–9 hours of quality sleep a night. Getting six hours or less, on a regular basis, is not ideal and puts you at risk for serious health conditions.
Manage stress: Stress can predispose you to infection and worsen the symptoms of an illness. Breathing exercises, yoga/other stretching exercises, and meditation are all excellent ways to relieve stress. Be mindful of what you can control like limiting your time with social and news media.
Exercise: Physical activity improves mood and well being along with decreasing the risk of many health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, among others. Walking, hiking, cycling, running, yoga, and Pilates are all forms of exercise and movement that benefit your body. At a minimum, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 3–4 times a week and try to exercise outdoors when possible.
Wash your hands: Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and do it often throughout the day, especially after coming into contact with high-touch surfaces.
Rest: Don’t overdo daily activities.