It is that time of year again! Kids are back to school, which means nasty germ exposure spikes! Not only is it important to keep our kids' immune systems healthy, but also our own as caregivers. Here are my healthy, natural recommendations to keep a strong immune system in these colder months, and all year round:
- Cold Showers - At the end of your regular shower, crank the dial to cold for 2 minutes -- the benefits are endless! This simple practice improves circulation, energy levels and an is an intense immune system boost. Studies show a 30% reduction in immune-related sick days for people who regularly take cold showers/plunges.
- Plenty of Sleep - This is crucial for immune system strength and maintenance! We need 8 hours to upkeep a high-functioning immune system and most of us only get 5-7 hours per night. The trick here is creating a healthy bedtime routine – healthy sleep hygiene! This means winding down an hour before sleep and eliminating screens. On nights that I can’t turn my brain off, I rely on things like GABA or L-theanine to help my body wind down (my favourite are the Sleep Gummies by Seroyal, which are L-theanine and Lemon Balm).
- Limit Alcohol - Alcohol negatively affects our sleep, which in turn decreases the immune system's function. The body metabolizes alcohol as sugar, which feeds the bad bugs (bacterias and viruses) that make us sick. Limiting (or eliminating) alcohol improves cognitive function, metabolism, energy levels, weight management, as well as gives the immune system a chance to fight and eliminate pathogens.
- Vitamin D - This super-vitamin has so many important roles, including immune system regulation. It was learned during COVID that folks with lower vitamin D levels were more susceptible to the infection and had a more severe symptom picture. This is due to its ability to support the immune system’s combating powers. Vitamin D levels should be measured in the blood to determine correct dosing, but supplementing with 1000-4000IU/day can be enough to curb a deficiency.
- Probiotics - These are the “good bacteria” that help repopulate the guts’ microbiome to be able to fight and fend off bacteria, viruses & parasites. It’s important to choose a human strain of probiotics and make sure that there is enough strength to build the good bugs up. I usually dose around 25 billion CFUs for immune system maintenance and higher if the immune system is under-functioning or there is a current infection present. My favourite brand is HMF (stands for Human Microflora) by Seroyal.
- Immune Herbs - These can be so supportive, whether you are looking to maintain immune system strength or boost its abilities. Herbs in this genre can be really potent, such as Echinacea, Oil of Oregano, Berberine and Hydrastis – all which can be used to fight a cold or infection and can be taken in capsule or liquid tincture. Usually with these herbs you want to dose for 14 days and then take a break to see how your immune system recalibrates.
Wishing you all an infection-free month! If you have any questions about your immune system in particular, don’t hesitate to drop into one of our locations to speak with us and get support.
Dr. Kate Hunter, ND