Boosting The Immune System – The Natural Way 

Heading into the thick of winter means one thing for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to live in the tropics: people have more colds and flues. And, there are some ways that you can boost your immune system in this season. 

There are a number of reasons that this season can knock the old immune system around: from lower temperatures, to more time spent indoors in groups and at the mercy of artificial heating that cycles viruses around office blocks [1]. We also take in less Vitamin D in winter, as sunshine is a little more difficult to come by.  

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s not our just lifestyle inthis season that stumbles us, there are some year-long problems. How we handle them can make a big difference to immunity.

“It’s the stressors that get to our body. Now…there are some stressors we can’t control. Unless someone wants to come and pay my mortgage off, I’m always going to have mortgage stress. I’m going to have financial stress unless someone gives me millions of dollars. We can’t avoid that. It’s largely out of our control. But what we can control is what goes in our mouth and what our body does,” said Naturopath Stephen Eddy in a recent interview with The Wellness Guys [2].

Among natural immunity boosters are things like sleep, exercise and diet. Accord to Eddy, there are some dietary immune boosters that we can take advantage of during the winter months.

“We can certainly eat a lot more healthily. We can eat a lot more vegetables, fruits, salads, nuts, seeds, legumes, healthy foods and do healthy things for our body. Get up. Go for that walk. Go to the gym. Exercise. Do something that will keep your immune system as well as your general health a lot better off. Take supplements to improve your health so you don’t get the cold in the first place. I’m a big one on prevention.”

Without further ado, here are the specifics on Eddy’s immune boosters.

  • Fresh fruits salads and vegetables – “These are the things you should be basing your diet on,” says Eddy. The reason being, they are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants and betakerotines that can help boost the immune system when it needs a little help.
  • Nuts and seeds – “Nuts and seeds are high in minerals. Those minerals tend to boost the immune system [2].” There are a variety of minerals and antioxidants hidden in these little beauties. Among them is zinc, which is known to support the immune system [3].
  • Protein –  Eddy advises us to make sure our diets contain enough protein, and there’s a very a logical reason for that. “Our immune system is made from proteins after all.”
  • Therapeutic teas – “There are lots of teas that can help with the immune system as well, advises Eddy. Among them are echinacea and green tea. Many a cold or flu has also been aided with the old lemon and honey drink. While Eddy doesn’t recommend loading up toast with honey because of its sugar content, he does maintain that a little honey in a healthy tea can be helpful if you’re fighting off a cold [2].
  • Eggs –This might sound like an interesting inclusion, and certainly not one found on most immune booster lists, but the truth is that eggs are a rich source of protein and something called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is known to have “a laundry list of physiological effects including as an antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory agent according many research studies [4].

Handling stress is also an important part of immunity. While not all stressors are easily eradicated from our lives, there are some healthy inclusions that can help us keep the stress levels down. Meditation and social connections are two common recommendations here, but so too is exercise [5]. While it might be less easy to motivate yourself to exercise in winter, it’s just as important here as any other time of the year. “About half an hour of moderate to intense exercise daily is healthy,” says Eddy before advising that 80% of maximal heart rate is what you are aiming for.

So while it might be tempting to hit up the comfort food and spend more time on the couch this winter, your immune system says otherwise! Eat the food your body loves, and keep your body moving throughout the winter months and you may be on the way to a healthier cold and flu season.

 

References

[1] Staff writer (1997), “Why do we get the flu most often in the winter? Are viruses more virulent in cold weather?The Scientific American  retrieved 11 May 2016

[2] The Wellness Guys,  (2016), “TWG252: Immunity with Stephen Eddy,”  retrieved 11 May 2016

[3] Staff Writer (2016), “Top Ten Foods High In Zinc,” Healthalicious.com,  retrieved 11 May 2016

[4] Forsythe-Pribanic, (2016), “What the heck is astaxanthin?” Prograde

[5] Staff Writer (2016), “Immune system boosters and busters,Web MD,  retrieved 11 May 2016

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