When we enter into the chillier, darker months of the year, folks become concerned about “cold and flu season” and begin to show an interest in boosting their immune systems so they don’t get sick. Nobody wants to lose productivity or income at their job or miss out on fun times with loved ones because they have a cold.
But it would be better to think more long term and have broader goals for a well functioning immune system, day in and day out. Why? Because when our immune systems are functioning at peak levels every day, not only do we have fewer colds and flus but we also have a lower risk of developing cancer.
Specific parts of our immune system are dedicated to seeking out mutated cells and deleting them so they don’t grow and form full-blown cancerous tumors. Our cells are replicating and dividing all day every day, so there is constant potential for errors and mutations. Personally, I want this part of my immune system working for me at top efficiency full time.
The immune system is a mighty and complex system with a host of moving parts. This is what allows it to recognize and defend us from a wide variety of potentially harms. Happily for us, these moving parts are all generally benefited by similar healthful activities that we can engage in.
So let’s get to it – how to keep this all working with the utmost power:
- Sleep – at least 7 or 8 hours every night, without fail, non-negotiable
- Exercise vigorously – at least 150 minutes per week; outdoors is better
- Meditate – 10 minutes or more every day of scheduled relaxation and breathing from your belly
- Sunshine – spend time each day in the sun (no sunscreen) to make immune-stimulating Vitamin D; 15 minutes is good and limits risk of sunburn
- Hydrate – drink 4 quarts of water daily; electrolyte (mineral) water is best
- Sauna or hammam – every week or two, do a contrast hydrotherapy session; alternating 2-4 few times between the hot sauna and a dip in a cold pool or shower
- Contrast shower – follow the same principles as the sauna/hammam, using the water of your shower; this can be done every day at the end of your shower, always ending with cold
- Eat and drink your medicine – many plant foods have immune stimulating properties, including herbs, spices, and medicinal mushrooms; enjoy them in abundance, every day – ask your naturopath for personalized recommendations
- No sugar – whole fruit is great, but no juice, soda, energy drinks, sweets, etc.; sugar is immune system suppressing – especially don’t give kids juice when they’re sick
- Avoid toxins – alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, sugar, stress; all of these suppress immune system function
- Supplement – a high quality multivitamin/mineral supplement for everyday use; add an immune stimulant when your need for protection is higher
- Immune stimulants include herbs like Echinacea and Astragalus, or medicinal mushrooms like Cordyceps
- Beta glucan – derived from mushrooms, this anti-cancer molecule and can be taken daily
- D3 – high dose during times of illness or exposure to others who are sick
- Myers IV – provides nutrients to support immune function
- Ozone IV – increases immune system messengers, fortifying the battle
By Dr. Lauri Brouwer, NMD
Learn more about Dr. Brouwer here.