Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy
In the midst of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), many people are looking for quick fixes sometimes dubbed “immunity boosters.” But what does it actually mean to “boost” your immune system, and is it really possible?
The immune system is your first line of defense against all infections, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungus or mold. It is also the consensus among expert immunologists that white blood cells and their component parts, including T-cell and natural killer cells, play a vital role in combating foreign invaders, whether they are ingested, inhaled or spread by person-to-person contact.
When we consider all the factors that contribute to keeping the body healthy, at the top of the list is homeostasis, or internal balance. “Boosting” just means balancing the immune system. To begin balancing the immune system, it is recommended to first work on lifestyle factors including sleep, stress management, nutrition and maintaining a super healthy microbiome. To ensure these lifestyle shifts are sustainable, the practices should fulfill you, rather than feeling like a difficult chore or something you know will be difficult to be consistent with on a daily basis.
While there is no single fast-acting magic solution, a combination of preventive measures can help ensure your immune system is operating at its peak performance. In addition to washing your hands – an incredibly important practice – there are supplemental activities that help strengthen your immunity, not just temporarily supercharge it.
Consider these tips for boosting your immune system:
- Stay hydrated – Drinking good quality water will help keep your lungs moist and mucus flowing, which clears the lungs of the gunk that can collect and create conditions for opportunistic infections to thrive.
- Drink green or black tea – Studies show that certain teas have tremendous antioxidant polyphenols that have been shown to support the immune system by fighting off free radicals.
- Limit your sugar intake – Eating a healthy diet and limiting (or eliminating) inflammatory foods, like sugar, not only helps the body recover faster, it also helps build up your immunity so it is more resilient and dynamic.
- Get good quality sleep – Sleep is fundamentally one of the most important practices in self-care. Quality REM (rapid eye movement) sleep where one achieves several cycles of REM deep sleep helps to boost the immune system and keep hormones in balance.
- Manage your stress levels – Deep breathing from the abdomen several times in a row, meditation, prayer, mild exercise and other stress-reducing activities can keep cortisol levels in check and help to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Take pharmaceutical-grade supplements to boost immunity – Recent clinical studies are suggesting that taking a nutritional supplement protocol may be as effective in preventing various forms of bacteria and viruses as prescription medication. Immune-boosting supplements including probiotics, vitamin C, vitamin D3, selenium and zinc can help support a healthy immune system.
- If you are feeling ill – Stay home!
Since this has been an active viral season with colds, flu, and now the coronavirus, it is more important than ever to take steps to strengthen your immune system. Be vigilant in following the latest recommendations from credible sources including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for preventing the spread of viral illnesses. While there isn’t a magic fix, preventative measures to protect and support your immune system plays an important role in promoting optimal health.