5 Tips to Keep Your Immune System in Check

 
Vitamin C-rich foods.

Vitamin C-rich foods.

It’s definitely November in northern California...the leaves are turning brilliant reds and yellows, the sun goes down at 5:00 P.M., yet it’s still 75 degrees out (we get the best of both worlds here). This time of year we spend much of our time indoors, in close contact with other people, who may come to work sick and spread their germs everywhere (read: PLEASE STAY HOME!!!). With all the weather fluctuations during this time of year, and being in the close proximity of other (possibly sick) people, it’s important to keep our immune systems strong so we don’t fall prey to the pesky flu (or one of the gajillion strains of it). Here are 5 tips to keep your immune system healthy throughout the cold months.

  1. Eat zinc-rich foods. Zinc is involved in over 300 cellular processes in the body. It boosts the immune system as well as modulates protein synthesis and hormone production. Zinc is an antioxidant, and is necessary for the body to repair tissue and eliminate oxidative stress. The highest food sources of zinc include oysters (in season now!), shellfish, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and soy. If you choose to take a supplement, look for one with 15mg of zinc per capsule and take once a day with your largest meal. I like Designs for Health Zinc Supreme

  2. Take a probiotic. Probiotics are all the rage right now and they damn well should be! Not only do they support gut health by repopulating good bacteria, they extend beyond the gut barrier to influence and strengthen immune function throughout the body. How amazing is that?! The best probiotic food sources are fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, full-fat yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha, natto, and traditional buttermilk. I also recommend the following oral probiotics to strengthen immunity: Pure Encapsulations IMM, which has lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains, or MegaSporeBiotics IGG 2000, which has soil-based organisms. Both are shelf stable and do not require refrigeration.

  3. Have echinacea and elderberry syrup on hand. Both of these are herbs that have been used to boost the immune system for thousands of years. Echinacea has preventative effects and can help prevent the common cold. Elderberry has the power to boost the immune system, and help treat the symptoms of the common cold and flu, allergies, and inflammation. To get the best of both worlds, with added antioxidants like zinc and vitamin C for good measure, try mykind Organics Elderberry Immune Syrup when you start to feel a cold coming.

  4. Take a vitamin D3 supplement. Vitamin D modulates the both immune systems - innate and adaptive - and research shows that vitamin D works to maintain tolerance and promote protective immunity. We also become deficient in vitamin D in the fall and winter months due to the lack of sun so it’s important to supplement. I use Metagenics D3 5000 I.U. + K2 for maximum absorption. You can also get vitamin D through food, but not a ton. Fish (like sardines), grass-fed dairy and meat, oysters, pastured eggs, shrimp/shellfish, mushrooms, and tofu will be your best options. Note: Vitamin D is fat-soluble and can build up in the liver if taken in too high of a dose. It uses calcium and vitamin K2 as cofactors so if you aren’t getting enough of those, it will contribute to the build-up. Be sure to work with your doctor and have them test your vitamin D levels every 3 months to ensure they are within a healthy range. 

  5. Eat foods rich in vitamins A + C. These vitamins are both antioxidants, and, like zinc, contribute to strengthening the immune system and eliminating oxidative stress caused from LIFE (and illness). Winter squash, sweet potato, kale, carrots, and beef liver are your best sources of vitamin A. Black currant, bell peppers, kiwi, guava, oranges, strawberries, kale, broccoli, and parsley are all superior sources of vitamin C. Taking a daily multivitamin during these months can help ensure you’re getting all your nutrients to help fight off colds, and these include vitamins A + C. I use Metagenics Phytomulti as you only have to take two per day!

I hope this gives you a few extra ideas to help prep your immune system so you don’t get sick this winter. And, if you start to feel symptoms coming on, immediately start taking Wellness Formula. It will quickly nip the symptoms in the bud!

Looking for help to keep your immune system in check this winter? I can help with that. Click here to schedule your FREE Learn to Thrive Discovery Session!


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