We have never needed our immune systems more. By creating a strong immune system for yourself, you can be assured that no matter what comes along, your body will be prepared to fight it and keep you healthy.
As winter approaches, so does cold and flu season. Each year, roughly 50 million Americans will get the flu and I don’t want you to be one of them so let’s review some of the many ways that you can help your immune system help you.
First things first. Make sure you are eating healthy foods. I am a big fan of a lower carbohydrate way of eating. But, even if you aren’t and no matter what dietary program you follow; there is one consensus that every nutrition expert can agree upon. Sugar is the main culprit in weakening our immune system.
In fact, one teaspoon of sugar can reduce the ability of your white blood cells (one of the key players in your immune system) to do its job by 56%. 2 teaspoons by 80%. The average American eats up to 33 teaspoons of sugar daily - so you can see why so many of us get sick each year.
What I am about to tell you next might seem counter-intuitive but allow me to explain. One of my key immune fighters that I turn to each winter and always have on hand is Manuka honey. Yes, I know that honey is sugar; but this Manuka honey has some pretty cool health benefits.
Manuka honey is a type of honey native to New Zealand. It’s produced by bees who pollinate the flower Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as the manuka bush.
Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties are what set it apart from traditional honey. Methylglyoxal is its active ingredient most likely responsible for these antibacterial effects. Manuka also has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits - all the things you need to keep your immune system at its peak.
My other go to nutritional supplements are:
1. Vitamin D3 - this vitamin has been shown to be a keen immune enhancer; along with many other health properties. You need to keep your levels high so I recommend a daily dose of 5000 IU per day. I personally take 10,000 IU per day.
2. Olive Leaf - a great anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory amongst other properties it possesses - 500 mg per day or if you feel a cold coming on, increase that to three times per day.
3. Oil of oregano - this contains compounds called phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids which act as nature’s own anti bacterial and anti fungal agents. 500 mg of the dried form or a few drops of the liquid per day.
4. Vitamin C - nature’s original anti-oxidant and one that is still a winner in my book. We don’t produce any vitamin C naturally so it is important to take it daily. The best dose is around 3000 mg per day in divided doses.
5. Zinc - be careful not to take too much of this or you could wind up with a bad stomach ache. 50 mg per day is good enough.
6. Vitamin A - this helps to protect the lining of the respiratory tract; so in cold/flu season, a good dose is 10,000 to 25,000 mcg per day.
Obviously, these are just my top picks as this list could be exhaustive; but it is the list I have successfully used in my practice for almost 30 years - every cold and flu season and my patients love me for it.
Lastly, let’s not forget about lifestyle changes that aid our immune systems as well. If you are a smoker, try to quit or at least cut down.
Get enough sleep and rest. Sleep is restorative for our bodies and also is the time when our immune system gets to clean up from what we expose it to in our normal course of life.
And lastly, make sure you wash your hands frequently with warm soap and water. It is one of the best ways to prevent sharing germs with your friends and loved ones.