Flu season is just around the corner and there are many ways to enhance your immune system naturally! Don’t let the headlines scare you… your amazing body was built to fight off infections if you treat it well. You are not destined to get influenza! I believe for most individuals, there are better ways than a formeldehyde-laden vaccine to enhance your own immune fighting capabilities naturally.
Dr. Jill’s Fifteen Tips for Enhancing Immune System Naturally:
- Hydration – drink plenty of pure filtered water every day. This is especially important if you are flighting the flu. I recommend drinking up to 80% of your body weight (in pounds) of water (in ounces)
- Elimination of sugar and processed foods - studies confirm a decrease in immune system’s effectiveness within hours of consuming sugar. Get rid of the junk and you are more likely to be able to fight off a viral infection and decrease inflammation. This could be the most important piece of advice you follow to avoid getting the flu.
- Elimination of dairy – since many patients suffer from food sensitivity to dairy, it is a good idea to eliminate this food group if you want to avoid symptoms of a cold or influenza. Even though studies have not shown a link between increase mucus production and dairy consumption, I generally see clinical improvement in patients who choose to eliminate milk and cheese.
- Sinus irrigation – I recommend the NeilMed sinus irrigation or a nettipot used 1-2 X daily with saline to clear out excess sticky mucous and prevent viruses and a bacteria from adhering. This works amazing for anyone who relies on their voice for occupation, like teachers, professors, singers, etc. It’s also good for the rest of us to prevent the bacteria or viruses that cause infection from sticking around. One study showed that daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation improves sinus-related quality of life, decreases symptoms, and decreases medication use in patients with frequent sinusitis.
- Vitamin D3 – This is one of my favorite remedies! You may take 25,000IU daily for 2-3 days in a row at onset of symptoms to knock out a virus. Check with your doctor before using high dose Vitamin D3 if you have sarcoidosis or other autoimmune disease. This dose should not be used long-term but you may safely take 2000IU daily after that. Vitamin D is an important immune system regulator. Serum Vitamin D levels were inversely associated with all-cause mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases. The active form of vitamin D has also been shown to inhibit the development of autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is still a core powerful immune stimulant. Take 4-5 grams daily if you would like to support your immune system during flu season. It has been shown to increase glutathione production in human lymphocytes. In another study, intake of Vitamin C decrease incidence of upper respiratory infections in athletes.
- Zinc – Recommended dose is 50-100mg daily. It is clear that zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system, from the barrier of the skin to gene regulation within white blood cells. Read more here on how zinc is a potent mediator of resistance to infection.
- Echinacea – This is a powerful anti-viral that may be used to fight cold or flu. It can be purchased in lozenges, syrup, or capsules. I do not recommend using for more than 2-3 weeks at a time.
- Lysine – shown to decrease replication of the herpes simplex virus, I generally recommend 1-2 grams daily for prevention and 4-6 grams daily for treatment
- Olive Leaf Extract – For the common cold take either two 500 mg capsules, 4 times per day with meals, or one capsule every hour while awake. Elenolic acid (the active ingredient in olive leaf) has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of a wide spectrum of viruses.
- Garlic – One of my favorite all around infection fighters! Use caution if you have sensitivities to sulfur foods or drugs. My favorite form of garlic is the potent Allimed brand, which can be taken for prevention at 1-2 capsules per day. At first sign of infection take 4-6 capsules daily for a period of one week. Relief should be felt within first 24 hours.
- Homeopathic Remedies: Boiron Oscillococcinum and FluNada Take as directed – I carry these two with me at ALL times, especially during air travel. Before getting on a plane I always take a vial of Oscillo. You may take 1 vial up to 3 times daily when you start to feel the flu coming on. FluNada may also be used and is equally effective but must be sprayed in the nose or back of throat.
- Adequate sleep – During the hours your are sleeping your detox system (liver/kidneys) and your immune system work their hardest. If you are not getting 7-8 hours of sleep, your immune system is depressed and you will be more susceptible to the flu.
- Gentle daily exercise – Dr. Jill recommends gentle stretching, yoga, and deep breathing but not strenuous exercise, like running, if you are feeling symptoms of influenza.
- Prayer and meditation – need I say more? Gratitude to the Creator is a powerful modulator of health! Regular prayer and meditation may help control stress response and enhance innate immunity.