Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall into Health: Ten Imperative Immune-Boosting Tips


The first rounds of colds and flus have already started to pass through the city, and it's still close to 20 degrees out!

These respiratory infections come in waves, and it is virtually impossible to avoid exposure to the viruses and bacteria that fester indoors in the cooler months. Guaranteed, you will find bountiful colonies coating door handles, communal pens, subway poles, bank machine buttons and especially on your colleagues friendly handshaking hands.

Wash your hands and use sanitizer they tell you...but if you did this as much as you needed to, your hands would become raw and dry. Plus, it's enough to drive you to paranoia! 

Do try to keep your hands clean as best as you can, but instead of worrying excessively about your exposure to pathogens, an often overlooked tactic is to support your immune system. Your immune system is your body's natural defense system to fight off invaders. If it is functioning well, it will be able to keep you healthy even in the presence of bacteria and viruses.

Here are ten ways to maintain your immune strength:
  1. Drink plenty of water  - This helps with circulation and elimination, and ensures your cells are hydrated to function optimally. In the cooler months, warmer liquids (at least room temperature) are easier for your system to process
  2. Consume seasonal foods that elevate your mood - Complex carbohydrates, found in whole grains, sweet potatoes, parsnips, fruit, will stimulate serotonin production, thereby improving your mood, which in turn strengthens immunity
  3. Do not stress - High levels of stress will depress your immune system. Find a new approach to stressful situations, if you can, or find techniques for stress-reduction (meditation, deep breathing, enjoyable hobbies, exercise)
  4. Exercise - There is no easier way to increase your energy, elevate serotonin, and turbocharge your immune system than regular physical exercise.
  5. Sleep well - Ensure that you get adequate rest, your immune cells and tissues need this essential time to recuperate and regenerate
  6. Sunlight Exposure - In addition to increasing vitamin D in your body, sunlight also increases serotonin (and for us Canadians, take 2000 IU/day of a good quality vitamin D3 supplement)
  7. Take a vacation - For some people who really detest the cooler months, the best and only antidote is a quick trip to a sunny destination to recharge your batteries.
  8. Supplement Essentials for immune health - A good multivitamin, vitamin C, B-complex, echinacea, fish oil and oregano oil are beneficial to support immune cells and combat pathogens.Talk to your Naturopath for a regime that works for you.
  9. Reduce sugar and refined carb intake - A surefire way to depress your immune system and increase your risk of illness is to eat these foods; avoid them and you will be much better off.
  10. Get outside! - A huge reason that people get ill in the cold season is that they stay indoors...not because they are outdoors, as is commonly thought. Re-circulated air and indoor toxins will prevent your immune system from optimal functioning, but if you dress warm (definitely wear a scarf!) and enjoy the fresh outdoor air, your body will be better equipped to fight off impending sickness.
Enjoy the colours and beauty of autumn and Happy Thanksgiving!
Makoto Trotter

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