10 Tips to Support Your Immune System and Prevent the Cold & Flu NaturallyEnsuring a strong foundation of health and following simple best practices will go a long way in decreasing your risk of getting the flu. Here are ten tips for staying healthy this flu season.
1. Wash Your Hands Frequently and Thoroughly
This is the number one way to prevent the flu and other respiratory infections. You must scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds in order to kill viruses. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes to sing the ABC’s one time through. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing your hands.
2. Repair Your Gut
Your gut is your gateway to health, as nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. Make sure your gut is in tip-top shape, and take a high-quality, multi-strain probiotic with at least 25 billion units. This will keep your levels of good gut bacteria up to help fight off infections.
3. Reduce Sugar and Alcohol Consumption
With the abundance of holiday treats out this time of year, sugar cravings can be a real bear. However, consuming too much sugar can suppress your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight off infections, including the flu virus. It also leaves you open to gut infections such as Candida and SIBO, which suppress your immune system and cause leaky gut. And even moderate alcohol consumption suppresses your central nervous system, and therefore your immune system.
4. Reduce Your Stress
Stress is known to suppress your immune system. Consider massage, spa day, meditation, yoga, or acupuncture.
5. Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep Every Night
Your body relies on sleep to recuperate from daily exposure to toxins. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly reduce immune function.
6. Take an Immune Booster
Give your immune system an added boost with a supplement containing immunoglobulins and protein. I also recommend using ginger, garlic, lemon, manuka honey and lemon.
The immunoglobulins in colostrum will boost your IgA antibodies – which are your body’s first line of defense. These IgA antibodies are produced by immune cells in your gut and can deactivate and even eliminate harmful pathogens and toxins, such as those that come with seasonal sickness and bacterial imbalances. This means immune boost will strengthen, not heighten your immune system, which is key for anyone with autoimmunity.
7. Supplement with Glutathione and Turmeric
Antioxidants are very important for your immune function. Glutahione is the chief antioxidant in your body, responsible for enhancing your immune system and helping your liver with detoxification. Curcumin is the orange pigment in turmeric and a potent free radical scavenger that improves joint health and cardiovascular function.
8. Optimize Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a powerful immune system modulator, meaning it is key to fighting off infections and regulating autoimmunity. Optimal levels range from 50 to 70 ng/mL, so I recommend taking 5,000 IU of a high- quality vitamin D supplement per day and working with a physician to regularly monitor your levels. You will also want to be sure that your vitamin D supplement is paired with vitamin K to ensure that it is safely absorbed and doesn’t lead to artery calcification.
9. Drink Bone Broth
You probably remember your mother or grandmother giving you chicken soup when you were sick, and how it always seemed to help you feel better! It’s not just folklore bone broth is actually extremely beneficial for your immune system. In fact, a study published in the journal Chest showed that eating chicken soup during a respiratory infection reduced upper respiratory symptoms, as well as the number of white blood cells (the immune cells responsible for cold and flu symptoms). These benefits are thought to be from bone broth’s ability to reduce inflammation, thanks to amino acids such as proline and glycine.1
You can make your own bone broth by saving your chicken or turkey bones and vegetable scraps, and simply boiling them for about 8 hours (a slow-cooker comes in handy here). Or, if you want the benefits of bone broth without the hassle, you can supplement with collagen or gelatin, both of which act to optimize your immune system and support a healthy gut lining to defend your body against invading pathogens.
10. Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercise can boost your immune system by increasing your circulation. Increased circulation allows antibodies to travel throughout your bloodstream faster, making it easier for your immune system to fight off an illness. Exercise can also enhance your immune system by relieving stress and slowing the release of stress hormones in the body.
Supporting your immune system, strengthening your gut health, and remaining rested and stress-free are not only the keys to preventing the flu and will keep you on the path to optimal health.