Although the recommendation has been challenged recently, The CDC (and nearly all medical professionals) tell us the only way to avoid getting the Flu is to have the vaccine. Whether you decided to go along with this recommendation or declined… these 10 tips promise to optimize your body’s immune system; not just for Flu & colds but for cancers & auto-immune.
The immune system is the body’s protective network. It fights the invasion of harmful substances such as bacteria, viruses, and chemicals and guards against the development of cancer. Although the skin helps, the immune system has specific fighter immune cells like natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages that destroy pathogens. Read on to learn how you can boost these NK cells.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D increases WCs (natural killer cells) and ‘speaks’ to the fighter B & T cells. A Japanese study showed that school children taking Vitamin D3 supplements were 58 percent less likely to catch influenza A. That’s higher effectiveness than any flu vaccine can claim. As stated in other blogs, Vitamin D should be taken with food. Children would be safe to take 1000iu/d and grown-ups (especially in the N.E. region) would be safe with 2,000iu/d, however, most people are deficient and would benefit from taking 5,000/d. Ask your provider for a Vitamin D level and titrate to aim at 50.
- Astragalus: Think “Combat ready!” A Chinese herb, (AKA “Huang qi” meaning “yellow leader”, because the root is yellow and it is considered to be one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine) is known to activate the immune system. Astragalus has been shown to be a direct stimulator for macrophage activation. Macrophages eat foreign invaders (viruses or bacteria).In 2013 study Astragalus was found to enhance immunity and inhibit avian influenza virus. Astragalus is safe; doses as high as 100g/kg and unlike Echinacea or Lysine can be taken daily. The recommended dosage of 1.5-3gm/day. *possible interactions have been found with steroid medications*
- Probiotics –
“The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, accounting for 25% of the immune cells in the body that provide 50% of the body’s immune response. There are more than 400 species of bacteria residing in the gut, and they have symbiotic relationships with your body.” (Simin Meydani, DVM, Ph.D., Tufts University). Your gut is constantly exposed to toxins and foreign antigens, food and ‘bugs’. In a randomized, double-blind Swedish study of 262 healthy employees published in 2005 found 33% of the shift workers who took the placebo reported being sick during the study period compared with none in the probiotic group. Not just for adults! Researchers studied the effects of the use of probiotics in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial at 14 child care centers in Israel. Healthy babies 4 to 10 months were randomly assigned to receive formula with probiotics or no probiotics for 12 weeks. The probiotic group experienced a significant decrease in the number of days with fever, clinic visits, child care absences, fewer and shorter episodes of diarrhea and antibiotic prescriptions.
Adult recommendations – Metagenics Ultraflora Immune or Renew life brand
Children have different bacteria than adults- we recommend Metagenics Ultraflora children: or renew life kids.
- Quercetin (pronounced KWAIR-suh-ten): Quercetin is a plant-derived “flavonoid” found in fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids have positive effects on human health, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antiviral properties. It has natural anti-bacterial and anti-histamine effects and loosens secretions. Quercetin works best if taken with Bromelain on empty stomach. My recommendation would be Metagenics Sinuplex (2tabs 2x/d).
- Zinc: Zinc is a potent infection modulator and inflammation prevention. In 18 randomised controlled trials, enrolling 1781 participants of all age groups when zinc is taken within the first 24 hours of symptoms appeared to shorten the duration of a cold by about a day in two combined studies more than 1,500 people reported 40% fewer colds when taking zinc than those who were taking a placebo. It’s not just for colds! In an exciting study released in 2013, researchers found that using zinc at the onset of infection drastically decreased inflammation and potentially prevented sepsis (blood infections). Recommended dose: 20-40mg/day. As with all minerals; use citrate or piccolinate form (not oxide or carbonate forms).
- Lysine: L-lysine is an essential amino acid (essential meaning it can’t be produced by the human body and must be consumed in the diet through food or supplementation). When L-Lysine is deficient often people will experience complications with tissue generation, hair loss, fragile nails and poor immune function. Great treatment for coldsores and herpes as well. This is not an ‘every day’ supplement. Stop after 10 days or 3-4 days after symptoms resolve. Recommended dose: 500-1500mg/day and can be increased to 3,000mg/day for herpes outbreaks.
- Golden Seal: Goldenseal stops inflammation once it starts by decreasing the swelling in sinus and respiratory mucous passages. Goldenseal contains a compound called berberine that kills many types of bacteria (including the ones that disrupt the bowels). Berberine may also activate white blood cells, making them better at fighting infection and strengthening the immune system.
- Antioxidants: The flu attacks by damaging our lungs with a “M2 protein”. Research has proven that antioxidants interrupt this protein. Of course, it would be super if we could all attain adequate antioxidants from fruits and veggies, but most of us aren’t getting the recommended 7-10 fruits and veggies/day. My pick? Juice Plus+ made from 17 fruits and vegetables in both capsule and chewable form.
- De-stress & sleep: Chronic stress actually decreases the body’s ability to make fighter T-cells(the immune response!) and research has shown that sleep deprivation depletes the body’s ability to make NK (natural killer) cells for immune response.
- Complementary therapies: Chiropractic & acupuncture isn’t just for pain. A three year study revealed people having routine chiropractic care had 200% greater immune competence than those who didn’t. Even Dr. Oz supports acupuncture for cold and flu. And let us not forget to WASH YOUR HANDS! The more you prepare and boost the immune system, the less time out of work as you enjoy a MUCH healthier cold & flu season and keep your earned time for a wonderful vacation!