By: Steven D'Antonio
With all the media hype surrounding the Swine flu, we commonly get asked if there is anything that can be done to prevent it. And the answer is yes. Supporting a healthy immune response involves a few diet and lifestyle factors that are crucial. First, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables for their immune boosting phytochemicals. Carrots, garlic, and dark green leafy veggies like kale are important components of a healthy diet. Also it is important to restrict or eliminate your intake of refined sugars. These refined sugars temporarily slow down your immune system for a couple hours after eating them. So a daily sugar treat is like a daily insult to the immune system. Getting proper sleep is also important aspect of a healthy immune system. We recommend 7-8 hours each night. Exercise is another lifestyle factor that can increase immune cell activity as well as reduce stress levels. 30-45 minutes of exercise 3-5 days a week is necessary to get this benefit. If you are already doing these lifestyle factors you can also add in some immune boosting nutrients to your supplement regimen.
Some immune boosting nutrients include vitamins A, C, E, and D. Botanicals or herbals either have direct activity against viruses and bacteria or they upregulate our production of immune cells to help combat these foreign invaders. Our favorites include Echinacea, Licorice, Astragalus, Elderberry, and Reishi. Homeopathics have similar actions and can be prescribed orally or in injection form. See below for WFH's Immune Boosting Protocol of Supplements.
Lastly, as many of you know I have finished my studies in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I have been very impressed with the results that it can bring. Acupuncture itself can be used to improve the immune system. Studies done in China have shown increased levels of immune cells following the needling of specific acupuncture points. For immune boosting, we recommend 5 treatments in a two week period prior to cold and flu season. Once you catch a cold, acupuncture can reduce the amount of sick days as well. But in our mind, prevention is always best. So, as you see, there are many ways to support a healthy immune response.
- Wash hands frequently
- Get plenty of sleep
- Get regular exercise
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies and limit your intake of refined sugars and caffeine
- Detoxify with the change of seasons
- Consider supplementing with immune boosting nutrients, herbs, and homeopathics
Steven D'Antonio is a licensed Acupuncture Physician in the state of Florida and a Licensed Naturopathic Physician in the state of Washington.