Natural Treatments for a Healthy 2019!
Modern medicine offers many ways to fight infections today, and the benefits are undeniable, however, with administration of prescription drugs comes negative consequences that can incur long-term effects, such as decreased beneficial flora and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Naturopathic medicine can offer nutritional advice, as well as numerous therapies to bolster your immune health through the winter months to help you feel your best! Below I will review dietary considerations, herbal antimicrobials, essential oils, and nutritional supplementation that not only effectively treat the common cold, flu, and moderate infections, but can also help prevent illness before it starts!
So WHAT exactly CAN you do?
1) Wash your hands!!!
The most common way germs are spread is when a sick person coughs or sneezes, causing infectious airborne droplets to be spread… then a healthy person is in contact with germ-laden computer keyboards, doorknobs, telephones, etc.
2) Monitor sugar consumption
The holidays bring many joyous occasions and with that accompanies A LOT of holiday baked goods with an abundance of sugar that our body simply doesn’t need. Sugar puts our immune system into a transitory coma, substantially decreasing the activity of lymphocytes (white blood cells that fight infection) for several hours post consumption. Sugar puts our immune system at a perpetual disadvantage in its ability to fight pathogenic invaders, especially when baked goods are snacked on throughout the day. Pick and choose wisely…
3) Eat a rainbow a day, mostly vegetables, organic when possible
Fruits and vegetables are packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which help to support and bolster our immune system. Focus on seasonal produce and fruits- for example, winter vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, which provides an added immune boost through the colder months.
4) A healthy GI tract is crucial to optimal immune function
Approximately 70-80% of the cells that comprise our immune system are found in our GI tract, which is why a healthy microbiota is essential. Additional benefit can be provided through probiotics and fermented foods, such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir. Continual assault to our GI system through a poor diet and inflammatory foods can have substantial negative effects on our overall health (as well as our mood)!
Bone broth and homemade soups are also excellent this time of year, especially when rich in ginger, onion, garlic, chili, and mushrooms- all of which promote immune health. Bone broth from a healthy source of provides compounds like proline, glycine, and collagen, which supply crucial ingredients for a healthy GI system, the cornerstone of immune health.
Also Read: Healing Benefits of Garlic
5) Adequate levels of fat soluble vitamins
Vitamin A, D, and K, as well as Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin C help enhance immune cell activity and support overall health.
6) Specific essential oils
Essential have potent antimicrobial and immune activation ability, helping the body fight viral, bacterial, and fungal infections (oils must be of pure, unadulterated source). While adequate vitamins and minerals are imperative to immune health, essential oils also play a significant role in immune function and enhancing the body’s natural healing potential.
Also Read: How to Prevent the Flu Naturally
7) Herbal antimicrobials
Botanicals have been used for centuries and are one of the most ancient forms of healing. The immune system has intricate complexity, and, while we may not always know the exact mechanism of how some herbs promote immune health, we do know that for centuries herbs have been used to treat many illnesses and help prevent infection. Some common immunostimulant herbs are astragalus, goldenseal, echinacea, and elderberry. Additionally, medicinal mushrooms such as Turkey Tail, Cordyceps, Shitake, and Maitake are excellent at bolstering immune function and hastening recovery from illness.
8) Manage Stress!
Chronic stress takes its toll not only on the immune system, but all organ systems. When bodies undergo a stress-response cortisol is released, which causes a decrease in lymphocytes production. Stress also causes negative effects on the digestive system, thereby affecting immune health.
The immune system produces cytokines during sleep, which are imperative to fighting infection (needed in greater quantity). Sleep deprivation suppresses immune function and the body’s ability to fight infection takes a hit! Both short and long-term sleep deficit has very negative effects on the body, and also affects cortisol production, which again decreases immune function.
Movement is essential to overall health and well-being and is also related to an optimally functioning immune system. Moderate exercise increases circulation and enhances lymph flow, which helps to remove unwanted waste from the body, allowing immune cells to perform their job efficiently and effectively.
BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY AND HEALTHY 2019 from Balanced Care!
Dr. Julia is one of our Naturopathic Doctors practicing at Balanced Care in Edina and Woodbury. She treats a variety of conditions by addressing the root cause of disease using natural treatments and nutrition as much as possible. You can call or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Julia. We hope to see you soon!