Stay Healthy: Immune Supporting Tips

immumne2JacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

It’s the beginning of flu season and the thought of that looming threat may make some of us a little uneasy. Fortunately, most of us who may get the illness will not develop complications and will recover with rest, proper nutrition, adequate hydration and OTC medications. For some, an antiviral prescription medication may be recommended, which can be effective at reducing the severity of the illness when taken as soon as possible after symptoms develop.

Many factors contribute to your risk of coming down with the flu, including age, as infants, children and the elderly are more vulnerable. Others at high risk of hospitalization from complications of the flu include those with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems, those under chronic stress, the severely obese and pregnant women.

Do you ever wonder why some will come down with flu symptoms while others appear to be able to resist the bugs that cause the illness? Are you one of those people who seem to catch every viral infection that makes the rounds in the office or at school? Perhaps your immune system could use some attention. Following are some reasons why your immune system may be functioning at less than optimal levels:

Poor diet – Malnutrition impairs immune function. Diets high in sugar, fast food and processed foods don’t provide the rich nutrients your immune system needs to build its army of white blood cells, which fight infections and pathogens. Surprised? Don’t be, as it’s the diets high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, protein and healthy fats that promote overall health and provide the nutrients the immune system requires for optimal function.

Stressful lifestyle – Chronic stress puts the immune system under duress, leaving the body more vulnerable to illness. Scientific data shows that the negative effects of stress on the immune system have implications for health, including reduced antibody production and decreased lymphocyte proliferation. You can cut your chances of succumbing to a cold or the flu by mindfully reducing stress. Studies show that people who meditate have 50% reduced risk of illness, likely because meditation reduces the physical effects of stress that weaken the immune system. Massage on a regular basis has also been shown to produce positive changes in immune function.

Lack of sleep – Sleep deprivation raises the risks of illness by activating the stress response, elevating inflammatory chemicals and suppressing immune function. Sleep loss appears to cause changes to the system that activates our immune defense by decreasing the production of infection fighting antibodies and cytokines, chemical messengers that regulate the response of the immune system. Adequate sleep of 7 -8 hours a night for adults and up to 10 hours for children supports immune function by enhancing the body’s ability to form an initial response to invading pathogens.

Inactivity – Just as a weakened immune system generally accompanies a sedentary lifestyle, physical fitness is associated with healthy immune function. The human body was not designed for an inactive lifestyle, as studies show a sedentary lifestyle disrupts normal body functions that are necessary to maintain good health. Physical inactivity increases susceptibility to viral infections, while regular moderate exercise enhances natural immunity. It would appear that getting active is a good prescription for getting and staying healthy. During exercise, antibodies and white blood cells circulate more rapidly throughout the body, increasing the chances of detecting illnesses earlier.

Vitamin D deficiency – Scientists have found that vitamin D is crucial to immune defenses. However, vitamin D deficiency has seen a dramatic increase among children, teens and adults in the U.S., leading to compromised immune function and inflammation. Studies indicate that the effects of vitamin D deficiency include an elevated risk of developing chronic disease and immune system abnormalities, which can result in infections and autoimmune disease. Without sufficient vitamin D, killer T cells, which fight infections, remain dormant and don’t complete the necessary activation process needed to seek out and destroy pathogens. Supplementation, fortified foods and natural sunshine exposure for at least 15 minutes, 2 – 3 times a week will help to support adequate blood levels of vitamin D.  

Gastrointestinal health – Digestive health directly impacts your immune health, as your GI system is the headquarters for your immune system. A poorly functioning digestive system negatively influences the health of your immune and nervous systems and impacts hormonal health as well. Gastrointestinal immune cells secrete lymphocytes, which attack harmful pathogens. Beneficial intestinal microflora help prevent the overgrowth of harmful microbes, enhance the function of natural killer T cells and form a barrier to prevent germs or pathogens from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Supplements such as pre- and probiotics provide live strains of beneficial bacteria that offer significant support for optimal digestive and immune function.  

In addition to following these healthy tips, here are some great supplement choices for immune support:

Immune Support Packets
Immune Support Packets by Designs For Health – These twice daily packets provide a comprehensive formula of immune supportive herbs and nutrients to help build a strong defense during cold and flu season.
Bio-D-Mulsion by Biotics Research – This super absorbable emulsified liquid formula supplies 400 IU of vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol per drop.
Digest Gold™ W/ATPro
 Digest Gold by Enzymedica – This potent digestive enzyme formula is designed to support optimal digestive function, enhancing immune and overall health.

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