Taking simple steps today can help better our health for tomorrow. Here are some additional back-to-the-basics immunity tips for a preventative care routine:
Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables lays a strong foundation of quality antioxidants in your diet.
Fill up on phytonutrients! These incredible nutrients produced by plants have strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Some examples are quercetin (bioflavonoids), resveratrol (phytoestrogen), bilberry and black currant extracts (anthocyanins).
While we are still learning a lot about these phytochemicals, we do know that they help enhance immunity, repair DNA damage fromexposure to toxins, and detoxify carcinogens. There are several classes of phytonutrients, and within each class, there are dozens of phytonutrient groups that contain hundreds of phytonutrient types. Foods that contain phytonutrients include apples, dark berries and greens, broccoli, onions, garlic, grapes, leeks and chives, to name a few. Phytonutrient groups like flavonoids, for example, help scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) and provide anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.
Practice good gut health
Over 70% of our immune system resides in the gut, so keeping it full of healthy microbes is a good defence. Eat slowly and mindfully, and consume a wide range of plant-based and fermented foods. Beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium can help improve intestinal microflora and has a positive effect on intestinal immunity.
Boost daily fibre
Soluble fibre may help increase production of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-4 (IL-4). IL-4 has been known to help convert harmful inflammatory immune cells into protective anti-inflammatory cells, increasing the body’s ability to fight infections.
Drinking enough water, getting a full night’s sleep and avoiding things like refined sugar are basic care methods for ensuring your health stays on track.
Research indicates that sleep and the intertwined circadian system have been shown to have strong regulatory effects on immunological functions affecting both innate and adaptive immunity. Plus, movement along with time spent in nature can also enhance immune function and overall wellbeing. Great reasons to sleep well and find movement outdoors often.
Aim for more antioxidants
The best offence is a good defence. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals in the body and can further optimize healthy immune system function.
In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, NAC is also known as a mucous buster. This respiratory detoxifier helps to break up disulfide bonds present in mucous, thereby breaking up mucoproteins and improving respiratory conditions and flu-like symptoms.
ALA has the ability to regenerate and recycle other beneficial antioxidants in the body, like vitamins C and E, CoQ10 and glutathione.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins are not stored by our bodies. They are eliminated via urine, and so regular intake is required to avoid deficiency. The body relies on these fundamental nutrients for many biochemical functions including growth, development and proper immunity. They are essential components for maintaining optimal health.
Vitamin C generally works best when taken with bioflavonoids like quercetin, rose hips and rutin. Studies suggest combining vitamin C and quercetin can provide synergistic effects for immune-boosting activity, improvement in respiratory symptoms and help reduce common cold symptoms.
B vitamins play an important role in the balance of a healthy immune system. Low levels of folic acid and B12 in particular can alter the immune response by inhibiting the activity of immune cells.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
We can obtain this particular group of fat soluble vitamins via our diet. While they are naturally stored in our body (liver and fat tissue) for later use, certain dietary restrictions, health conditions and issues may decrease our ability to absorb these nutrients properly. In order to maintain good health, small amounts are needed on a regular basis and in a form that can be readily absorbed.
Plays a major role in maintaining healthy immune status. Individuals deficient in vitamin A are more susceptible to infectious diseases and tend to have higher mortality rates.
A fat-soluble antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidation of fat and regenerate other important antioxidants.
Low vitamin D levels can be associated with auto-immune conditions and an increase susceptibility to infections. Studies have shown that an estimated 40% of Canadians have blood levels of vitamin D that are below the recommended cut-off during the winter months (peak cold and flu season).
Although more research is needed in the area of vitamin K2 and its influence on immune and inflammatory responses, we know that it does act as a cofactor for plasma proteins, which may affect immune and inflammatory responses mediated by T-cells.
Omega-3 Healthy Fats
Omega-3 fish oils rich in DHA and EPA is widely believed to help reduce the risk of disease by lowering inflammation.
Minerals – are you getting enough?
Think of minerals as tiny building blocks that when stacked together, create a framework for building bones, blood cells and a healthy immune system.
Zinc & Selenium
Research shows a deficiency in zinc or selenium may lead to increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. These minerals act as powerful antioxidants that help lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and enhance immunity. Zinc specifically is critical to the immune system because of its role in cell membrane structure and function. Selenium is a trace mineral known to active the antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which enhances the antioxidant effect of vitamin E.
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to infection and injury. However, when left unchecked, systemic inflammation can lead to many different chronic conditions like cardiovascular or joint problems. While the exact mechanism of action is unknown, magnesium is thought to be an anti-inflammatory agent. Levels of magnesium in the body are inversely correlated to levels of inflammatory markers like CRP and IL-6.
Explore Herbs & Adaptogens
Adaptogens are herbs and roots that have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions. They have many beneficial properties most notably their role in helping to regulate the body’s stress response.
A well-studied herb proven to be beneficial for weight loss, stress and anxiety, libido, athletic performance and overall enhancement of wellbeing. Can be used for acute stress and also long term use for adrenal gland support.
Astragalus has been used therapeutically for years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its properties contain compounds called polysaccharides. These have immunomodulatory, anti-viral, antioxidant, and even cardio-protective properties. Studies indicate that astragalus shows anti-influenza virus activity which is why it has been used for centuries in immune-boosting elixirs in herbal medicine.
Research suggests that medicinal mushrooms have immunomodulatory, immune-stimulating, anti-microbial, anti-fungal effects on the body.
Oil of Orgeano
With its free radical-scavenging, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties, this herb has long been used as an option for a wide range of ailments. Carvacrol, a phenol constituent of oregano oil, is strongly antiseptic, making it vulnerable when used against viral, bacteria and fungal infections. As a potent anti-microbial, Oil of Oregano is recommended for acute and short-term use only and in conjunction with probiotics (taken a few hours apart).