By now you know we are all about lifestyle. So it goes without saying that these 5 Lifestyle Tips are the cornerstone to a healthy immune system.
- Sleep – between 6-8 hours of sleep is crucial. You should be able to fall asleep within 20min, sleep undisturbed or if you wake be able to get back to sleep easily and wake in the morning feeling rested. If this is not you…you are not alone! Come in and see us and we can help!
- Vegetables – aim for at least 2 cups of above ground veggies at every meal. Veggies are alkalizing to your system and also provide a lot of minerals that are key for immune function
- Protein – you should be aiming for protein with each meal and snack. Protein provides the building blocks for the immune system.
- Sugar – We have said it before…sugar is sugar and in any form is not good for immune function. Keep your intake to less than 6tsp per day at most!!
- Movement – Is key to reducing stress and also to engaging the lymphatic system both of which will help keep you healthy this winter.
Winter Supplement Basics
In addition to a healthy lifestyle, these supplements have been shown to be supportive to the functioning of the immune system and also great for maintaining overall health.
- Multivitamin – it would be great to think that we could get all we need from our food. If you were to eat from your garden, in your mineral rich soil I would agree that you could. However in our Canadian winters it is challenging to get all we need when our food in imported from half way around the world.
- Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3) – is called essential because your body doesn’t make it and it has to be obtained from the diet. Dietary sources of omega 3 are mainly focused on fish and seaweed, as it is challenging for many people to convert the form of omega 3 in things like flax and hemp. The problem with our dietary sources of seafood is that they are quite toxic and can be high in things such as mercury and PCB. At this point it is advised that you supplement with omega to maintain overall health. The suggested dosage is 1000mg of EPA and DHA. Look on the side of your bottle and add these up to equal 1000mg/day. It is best to source out a quality professional grade fish oil, as you want to make sure it has gone through quality processing to remove all of the impurities
- Probiotic – Probiotics have been well researched in terms of their immune benefits for children and adults. A 2011 review from The Cochrane Collaboration analyzed available evidences to determine whether probiotics can help prevent respiratory infections. By taking data from 14 randomized controlled trials involving 3,451 participants, they found that probiotics were effective for reducing the number of upper respiratory tract infections (cold and the flu etc.) experienced as well as antibiotic use and duration of the infections. Adults should take a multistrain probiotic containing at least 10billion cfu’s per day, and should dose this 1 capsule twice a day. Children should take 10billion cfu’s once a day.
- Vitamin D – We now know a lot about vitamin D and its role in immune healthy. A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 says it best. There is an inverse relationship between serum vitamin D levels and Upper Respiratory Tract Infections. Simply stated, the people with the lowest serum vitamin D get the most colds! 2000IU per day is recommended, however speak to your ND as we will usually dose individuals higher than this on a case by case basis.
How to Supercharge…
If you are like me, and are in need of a little help here is what you can add this winter to protect yourself.
- Echinacea – There is a lot of research on Echinacea and its benefits for the immune system, but in terms of treating a common cold the research is not strong. This is because Echinacea usually takes a couple of weeks to demonstrate its immune benefits and is therefore better for prevention rather than treatment. Although Echinacea has many immune functions, its most prominent one is its role in supporting phagocytosis. This is the process where the white blood cell engulfs a foreign particle or cell like the cold or flu virus. We use Mediherb Echinacea Premium, as it delivers high quality and potency. Adult dosages are 1 tablet daily for winter immune prevention. Since we have young children, I tend to use the liquid version. Adults are dosed at (please speak to your ND before taking this product if you have allergies to the dairy family or are on immunosuppressive medications). http://www.mediherb.com/product_pdf/EchinaceaPremiumLR.pdf
- Pascoleucyn Ampules – This is another option, or delivery form of Echinacea for those that do not like to take things everyday. You can take 1 ampule every week for the winter to help to support your immune system. This is a mix of herbal Echinacea and homeopathics that work very well for immune support.
- Immune Builder – the Magic of Mushrooms. Studies have shown that certain mushrooms (Cordyceps, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, Coriolus, Agaricus) can upregulate nearly all types of immune cells, including natural killer cells (NK cells), T-cells (regulate the immune system and kill pathogens), B-cells (produce antibodies), neutrophils (kill bacteria), macrophages (eat pathogens and debris). Note that these are not your regular culinary mushrooms like button mushrooms. There is a general mushroom formula called Immune Builder that can be used preventatively. You can take 1 capsule per day. Talk to your ND about specific mushrooms that can help you
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC): NAC is most often used in hospitals to treat acetaminophen (Tylenol) poisoning because it binds the poisonous forms of acetaminophen that are formed in the liver. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps boosts immunity, reduces respiratory mucus and helps with breathing in various lung conditions. Research has shown NAC can reduce both the duration and severity of the flu. A large study in the European Respirology Journal showed that in older adults, only 25% of those taking NAC experienced influenza-like episodes over a six month period, compared with 79% in the placebo group. The NAC dosage taken during the 6 month study was 600 mg twice daily. The study’s lead author, Dr. Silvio de Flora, commented that “Administration of N-acetyl L-cysteine during the winter appears to provide a significant attenuation of influenza and influenza-like episodes, especially in elderly high-risk individuals.” For me this product is a Two-For (the price of one). This supplement is used in many patients for helping with insulin sensitization, fertility, and helping with detoxication. For us, this product is called cysteplus or NAC SAP. Some of you may already be taking it, so the good news is it will also protect your immune system.
Okay Dr. Robin, so what are you doing….
Here is my personal immune support regime for the winter
- Multivitamin (Prenatal SAP) – 1 tablet three times a day
- Vitamin D – 5000IU
- Fish Oil (trident SAP) 2 capsules per day
- Probiotic (ProbioMax Daily – 1 tablet daily)
- Echinacea Premium by Mediherb – 1 tablet per day
- NAC SAP – 1 tablet twice a day