Prevention is Key – Top 5 Natural Immune Boosters
1. Get your Z’s!
While the relationship between the immune system and sleep is not yet fully understood, studies have shown that those who are sleep-deprived have a weakened immune system and a higher risk of becoming sick. Chronic sleep deprivation is, not surprisingly the most damaging to the immune system. The ideal amount of sleep varies from individual to individual and even depends on the stage of growth – teenagers for example need more sleep than adults. Seven to eight hours is ideal, but the key is to have quality, restful sleep.
2. De-stress and Disconnect every day.
Like most of you reading this I used to come home after a long stressful day at the office and “veg out” in front of the television convinced I was allowing myself to “de-stress”. Boy was I wrong! Contrary to popular belief, watching television is not relaxing. Our minds receive many different kinds of stimuli from watching television. Our brains process information, and respond emotionally to what is displayed on the screen.
Having trouble sleeping? I recommend Deepak Chopra’s book “Restful Sleep: The Complete Mind/Body Program for Overcoming Insomnia”
My number one choice for de-stressing is meditation. I find guided meditation CDs very helpful. There are several available from iTunes. My favourite is Living Meditation, Vol. 2: Guided Meditations With David Harshada Wagner.
If meditation is not your thing here are some other ideas:
- go for a walk or jog
- do a yoga class
- read a book
- listen to some uplifting music
- call a friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with (but have been too busy watching television)
3. Eat a whole foods diet.
A whole foods diet simply means choosing foods that are as close to their original state as possible; unrefined and unprocessed. For example – chose real oatmeal over the instant varieties. I prepare enough oatmeal to last a couple of days and take it to the office in plastic containers. When I get to the office, I add a bit of hot water, some cinnamon and dried cranberries and you’ve got yourself a quick, delicious “whole foods” breakfast!
Choose from a wide array of vegetables, fruits and lean protein sources. Try Brussels sprouts again – you may be surprised to find out that you actually like them as an adult!
I also recommend to chose organic foods as much as the budget allows. Eating a diet that consists as much as possible of whole and organic foods ensures you are getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals as nature intended them to be delivered and also protects us from ingesting harmful, cancer causing pesticides. Also, you will find that eating a whole foods diet will do wonders for your digestion, your skin and your energy levels!
4. Supplement Your Diet.
In the cold winter months it is essential to supplement your diet. Vegetables and fruit are picked off the trees and vines early and allowed to ripen on their long journey from Mexico or Florida. Produce picked early does not have the full saturation of vitamins and minerals as produce consumed right off the vine.
Multi-Vitamin – Visit your local health food store and speak to a representative for their recommendations. I like Sisu line. But there are many brands and types to suit everyone’s individual needs.
Greens Supplement – My top recommendation is VegeGreens
Other varieties such as Greens Plus and Greens Force are also very good choices.
Sea vegetables such as seaweed and kelp have an alkalizing effect on the blood. A strong and healthy body should be slightly alkaline, or basic.
Vitamin C and Zinc – A time release vitamin C supplement will ensure you’re not eliminating this water-soluble vitamin before it gets properly absorbed. Increase your zinc intake when you feel run down or when you start to feel the beginnings of a cold. Be careful though, most health practitioners do not recommend a dose greater than 30 mg per day.
5. Limit Your Caffeine
Caffeine elevates stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine. Over secretion of these hormones can over time lead to lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee a day.
Green tea does have some caffeine, but in much lower doses than coffee, and you get added benefits of powerful anti-oxidants.
Try Holy Basil Tea – studies have shown that among many other healing benefits it reduces cortisol levels in the body!
See my “Caffeine Roll Call” for additional info on smart caffeine choices.
Do you have other suggestions for holistic methods to increase immune resistance? I’d love to hear them!