A sore throat, runny nose, and cough are signs that your immune system needs extra support. As your biggest defence against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders, taking steps to strengthen your immunity is critical to your overall health and well-being.
Your immune system is influenced by a number of factors, such as age, genetics, and stress. Here are five important tips to help support it:
1. Eat Real Food
Your immune system depends on a steady intake of nutrients. Indulge in whole foods such as in-season fruits and vegetables, non-refined grains (quinoa and brown rice), and healthy fats and proteins (beans, wild fish, nuts, and seeds). When possible, incorporate ingredients with immune supportive effects into your everyday diet, including:
- Raw honey
- Coconut oil
- Green tea
Avoid consuming large amounts of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol, which can weaken immune function and deplete important nutrients. In some cases, key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc may be supplemented for additional support.
2. Address Nutrient Deficiencies
A big part of supporting healthy immune function is correcting possible nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C. Maintaining adequate levels of these micronutrients is an important part of protecting your overall health.
For example, vitamin A is needed for many immune functions, including white blood cell activity. Additionally, vitamin D is needed in sufficient levels to support overall respiratory health. Supplementing the diet with this vitamin may stimulate the body’s protective cells, such as macrophages and T cells, when necessary.
Eating a healthy diet is the first step toward preventing nutrient deficiencies. However, some people may also benefit from supplementing with a high-potency multivitamin and mineral complex or a specific immune support formula. Chewable Vitamin C + D3 contains 500 mg of vitamin C and 500 IU of vitamin D3 in each delicious, natural orange-flavoured tablet for added antioxidant and immune system support.
3. Include Probiotics in Your Diet
Did you know that a large portion of your immune system is in your digestive tract? So it makes sense that probiotics, which are essential for promoting a favourable gut flora and supporting gastrointestinal health, can also regulate immune responses. Certain probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also help manage and reduce the risk of diarrhea after antibiotic use.
Support your intestinal microbiota by incorporating probiotic foods into your daily meals and snacks. Delicious choices include:
For additional support, most children and adults can take standardized probiotic supplements. Immune Probiotic features the strains Lactobacillus helveticus R0419 and Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071, which have been shown to support common cold prevention and relief. This combination is especially helpful during times of stress and helps shorten the duration of upper respiratory tract illness by at least 30%.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep with Melatonin
Did you know that getting fewer than seven hours of sleep can increase your risk of developing a cold by nearly three-fold? Establish a sleep routine with sleep-promoting strategies, such as:
- Going to bed and waking up on schedule
- Sleeping in a cool, dark room
- Avoiding all electronics before bedtime
- Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol
- Exercising early in the day
For more information on how to get a better night’s sleep, see The Ultimate Guide to Sleep from Webber Naturals.
5. Use Natural Health Products that Supports Immunity
Herbs and other natural health products are a great way to support your immune system and overall good health, including:
Echinacea: a well-known herbal medicine used to relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of upper respiratory tract infections. The effects of echinacea are due to the synergistic activity of active ingredients, such as alkylamides, polysaccharides, and cichoric acid [4,5]
Ginger Flu Defence Formula: a combination of organic ginger root, vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc in a convenient chewable tablet. Ginger Flu Defence Formula provides non-drowsy relief for sore throat, flu, and bronchitis symptoms. It can be used by adults and children aged 6 and up.
Speak to your health care practitioner to determine which natural health products are suitable options for you and your family.
Supporting your immune system with well-rounded nutrition, probiotics, good sleep habits, and natural health products creates a solid foundation for overall health. You can further support your immune system year-round by:
- Resting when you are unwell
- Washing your hands often
- Staying hydrated
- Managing stress levels
- Incorporating regular physical activity into your lifestyle
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Hughes DA, Norton R. Vitamin D and respiratory health.Clin Exp Immunol.2009 Oct; 158(1):20-25.
- Health Canada. Natural Health Product – Probiotics. Web. Available from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=probio&lang=eng [Accessed 15th January 2019].
- Cohen S, Doyle WJ, Alper CM, et al. Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jan; 169(1): 62-67.
- Health Canada. Monograph: Echinacea purpurea. Web. Available from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=80 [Accessed 15th January 2019].
- Hudson JB. Applications of the phytomedicine echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) in infectious diseases. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012; 2012:769896.