Get Ready, The Flu Is Coming
Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney
Many of you have been asking me: “They are saying the flu is going to be bad this winter, but all I hear about in the news is shots and drugs. Is there a holistic approach for strengthening my immune system?” My answer is yes! If you want to know how to boost your immune system, here are my suggestions:
How to Boost Your Immune System
- Start by eating a balanced diet composed of whole, unprocessed foods without a lot of fat and simple sugars. A great place to start designing a balanced diet that is perfect for your age, gender and activity level is https://choosemyplate.gov.
- Get plenty of sleep. The experts recommend 8 hours of sleep a night, but most Americans get far less than that.
- Exercise on a regular basis. Both too little and too much exercise can weaken the immune system (You might have guessed that the problem for most of us is the “too little,” not the “too much”). The experts recommend at least 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Twice that amount is probably optimal unless you want to run marathons or become a “muscle man.”
- Maintain ideal body weight. Those excess pounds really zap our immune system.
- Minimize your reliance on medications. Many common medications weaken the immune system (Just listen to the disclaimers in the TV commercials for examples). But you must work with your physician on this. Once your physician knows that you are willing to take personal responsibility for your diet and lifestyle, they will generally be willing to minimize the number of medications that they prescribe.
- Focus on the positive. Studies show that optimists are healthier and live longer than pessimists. And the good news is that anyone can cultivate an attitude of optimism. For most of us, it is a lifestyle choice – not something that we were born with.
- Add a supplement program to assure that your immune system is functioning optimally. In the ideal world supplements wouldn’t be necessary, but there are very few “saints” who do a great job in all 6 of the areas that I mentioned.
Getting The Nutrients Your Immune System Needs
A well-designed supplement program fills in the “gaps.” .We want to make sure that we are getting adequate nutrition to keep our immune system healthy. What other knowledge do you need to know how to boost your immune system? Here are the nutrients you need:
- B vitamins and protein because our immune cells need to divide very rapidly when we have immune challenges.
- Antioxidants because our immune cells create lots of free radicals.
- Trace minerals, especially iron and zinc, because they are required by important enzymes of the immune system.
- Vitamin D because it is vitally important for a strong immune system and most of us are not getting enough.
- Probiotics (healthy bacteria) because 70% of our immune system reside in the gut, and “bad” bacteria and yeast in our intestines can weaken the immune system.
- Omega-3 fatty acids to modulate the immune system once it has taken care of the invading bacteria or viruses.
We don’t need mega-doses. We just need enough.
One final thought: A holistic approach to strengthening our immune system is not an “either – or” proposition. I’ve seen estimates that the flu shot is 66% effective in preventing the flu for people with a strong immune system and only 33% effective in preventing the flu for people with a weak immune system.
The Bottom Line
This week I shared tips on how to boost your immune system, so you can withstand the worst that winter brings.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.