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Maintaining and improving the immune system

By Kara Keels BSc, FNTP Functional Nutritionist

Maintaining and improving your immune system is essential right now, especially with the coronavirus lurking in our communities. COVID-19 has adversely affected people with low immune systems.

A healthy body is dependent on a robust immune system. Rather than just strengthening our immune system, we want to train our immune system to do its job correctly all the time.

These are my top immune strengthening strategies you can do right now!

Eat a Nutrient Dense Whole Food Diet

I cannot stress enough how important it is to eat a nutrient-dense whole food diet full of a variety of vegetables, fruit, and quality animals, fats, and proteins. Consuming local, organic food is the best way to improve your immune system.

Be sure to incorporate plenty of vegetables and fruits that are high in prebiotic fiber, such as garlic, onions, asparagus, apples, berries, avocado, and root vegetables, to name a few. These will feed the healthy bacteria in your intestines, which is where roughly 80% of our immune system lives. These whole foods will have an abundance of immune-supporting vitamins, like A, B6, B12, C, D, and E, along with essential minerals like selenium, zinc, iron, copper, and many others.

Avoid Sugar and Refined Foods

Remove sugar, white flour, and pasta from your diet. Regular consumption of sugar can weaken your immune system enough to impair its ability to fight off infections. Furthermore, a high-glycemic index diet dumps a lot of glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream, which decreases your immune cells' effectiveness at protecting you from illness.

Hydrate

Keep your immunity up by drinking plenty of water to stave off infection. Staying hydrated helps your body naturally eliminate toxins and other bacteria that may cause illness. A great way to identify how much water you want to drink is to divide your weight by two, and that is how many ounces you want to drink. For example, if you weigh 140/2=70 ounces.

Self Care

Quality sleep is more important than people understand, our bodies repair and build while we sleep, so it's essential to sleep at least 7 hours a night (7-9 hours is ideal). Using a humidifier can improve the air quality in your home, and viruses don't like humid air. If you have a diffuser, try adding a peppermint essential oil to the water, it will awake your senses, make you more productive, and can keep harmful bacteria at bay. There are a couple of other blends of essential oils that have excellent antibacterial properties in them as well, and those are "OnGuard, "Armor," and "Thieves".(1)

Meditation(2) , breathing exercises, and exercise are all activities that will help boost your immune system. Since the weather is improving and we have more daylight, it might be a good time to implement a 30-minute walk outside.

Go it alone and meditate while walking or grab a neighbor or friend if you prefer the company.

Supplements to have on hand in case you get sick

My new favorite go-to immune support is Silver Excelsior(3) This chelated silver oxide complex, (not colloidal silver), has a unique antimicrobial action. It attaches to the bacteria cell and blocks respiration, causing it to die. It works well in killing pathogens but allows good bacteria to flourish.

Zinc - This can reduce the length of your illness if you start taking 80 mg of zinc as soon as you begin to feel sick.

Elderberry Syrup - This can also help reduce the length of illness if you catch it within 48 hours of the first symptom.

Vitamin C - Many physicians recommend 250 mg twice daily; however, you can safely double that.

Oil of Oregano(4,5) - There are people who use this daily. Follow directions on the packaging.

Garlic(6) - Fresh garlic in your foods is a great way to get what you need. However, Dr. Mercola makes amazing fermented garlic.

Ginger(7) - You can make a tea with fresh ginger and drink it any time of day.

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21078173/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940234/

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6264685/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25763467

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19783523

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10594976

(7) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/30/ginger-health-benefits.aspx

Not always easy to find items mentioned here:

Kara Keels is a Functional Nutritionist living in the Portland/Vancouver area. She can be reached through her website at www.karakeels.com


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