Declare Immunity This Season

Getting sick isn’t fun. Unless, of course, you relish thoughts of recessing deeper into the couch, unable to muster the energy to eat, drink, sleep in a real bed, or replace the entire tissue box your nose just blew through. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this dreadful fate. Follow these tips and you’ll be dancing your way through cold and flu season.

>> De-stress! High levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) tend to suppress or lower our immune response to invading pathogens, so make time to decompress and reduce your stress level. If you find you’re responding to stressors in a less than positive way, work on mentally reframing the experiences—it’s not about the stressors, it’s about how we react to them. Whether you do yoga, cook, dance, listen to music (or make your own), take bubble baths, or embrace your inner child by curling up with coloring books, do it often!

For additional support, drink some stress-relief tea throughout the day or take adrenal support supplements. Also be sure to get adequate sleep, since increased stress and lowered immunity are among the many effects of sleep deprivation!

>> Keep moving. Exercise helps with lymph flow and circulation of white blood cells, thereby increasing the detection of illness and helping to combat it quicker. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days per week to get a decent dose of fitness.

>> Eat with intention. Eating for immunity ideally includes a lot of antimicrobial herbs such as garlic, ginger, and parsley. You should also include immune-modulating mushrooms, particularly shiitake.

 

Diet and exercise might be the best ways to ward off a runny nose, but they’re not the only ways. Try adding these worthy supplements to your regimen.

>> Zinc Lozenges When used within the first 24 hours of illness, zinc can help shorten the duration of common cold symptoms. Plus, given at appropriate dosages over time, it can help prevent infections.

>> Echinacea Root Beyond the initial phase of illness, the root may have little or no impact. But when used within the first 48 hours of illness, it can be quite helpful.

>> Andrographis Sprinkle this immune-stimulating herb into your diet in the beginning stages of illness. It works to decrease the symptoms of the acute cold or flu quickly, particularly helping to provide relief from sore throat or fever.

>> Probiotics There is an undeniable connection between the gut and the immune system. An incredible 80 percent of our immune system is located in our digestive systems. Take probiotics daily throughout the year to support beneficial flora in the GI tract.

>> Neti Pot with Saline Rinse Regular use can decrease adherence of pathogens to the nasal passages, which is a common entry point of microbes. Although it can take some getting used to (and the willpower to do it), it is well worth the benefits!

>> Elderberry Syrup or Extract Not only is it antiviral, but the proanthocyanidins in the elderberries make it a potent antioxidant. Use to prevent contracting cold and flu viruses or to shorten the duration of their symptoms. Children love it too!

>> Astragalus This adaptogenic herb helps protect you by enhancing immune function, and it helps you deal with stress. That makes it a great preventive herb to take on a daily basis to build up your immune system and help you cope through the holiday season.

>> Vitamin C This classic immune-boosting standby can be dosed in high amounts, up to bowel tolerance, as more is required during acute infections. Lower amounts can be used daily to ward off illness.

>> Medicinal Mushrooms These polysaccharide-toting fungi can modulate or enhance immune function. Taking a mushroom extract or capsule supplement on a daily basis can be very beneficial in helping the immune system function properly. Source: Jenn Grushon, ND

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