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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Smart

Support your immunity: what to take this winter to prevent viral infections.

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

The reason some people get sick more easily than others is due to the differences in the function of our immune systems. Immunity naturally declines as we age, so the elderly are especially vulnerable. Stress, lack of sleep, poor diets, all contribute to making people of any age feel run down and therefore more suseptible to infection.

If you are the type of person who easily gets sick and tends to take a long time to fight off an infection, there are many things you can do to improve your resistance.

Firstly, do the basics in nurturing your body with plenty of sleep, times of relaxation, at least two litres of water per day, and a healthy diet rich in real, raw plant foods.

Secondly, take care of your gut. The best way to boost the quality of your microbiome, the gut bacteria which regulate immunity, is to eat a plant based, unprocessed diet rich in prebiotics. You may benefit from deliberately including these prebiotics in your diet in the form of slippery elm bark powder, ground flax seeds, or psyllium husk. If you choose to take a probiotic as well, make sure you choose the right strains for your unique needs. If you have IBS, this advice will not work for you and you need to seek help to improve your symptoms and change the profile of your microbiome.

Avoid foods that cause excess mucous production even when you are well. Depending on the individual, these may include: refined sugar, sulphites, dairy products, tomatoes, and other high histamine foods. If you live with a constant post nasal drip, you are the possessor of the ideal environment for a virus to thrive. Don't let it continue. If you are not sure what is causing it, get help. There are food allergy tests available that may be useful.

Make sure you are taking plenty of the key nutrients that support your immune system if you are not getting these through diet alone. These include the fat soluable vitamins: A, E, and D, which work on regulating inflammation and supporting immunity. Cod liver oil is a great food source for both A and D along with other fantastic constituents that support optimal health. Great Grandma knew her stuff! Zinc can be taken at the recommended daily dose throughout the winter months and increased when actually fighting off an infection.

Many people use various anti-viral herbs to fight infection. These should not be taken unless you are actually sick, and work best if taken at the very first sign of infection. If you have an autoimmune disease it is unwise to use immune boosting herbs as they may overstimulate your immune system.

Garlic is a great tool against respiratory infections because it not only kills pathogens such as viruses, it also thins mucous and reduces production. You can take high doses, also at the first sign of infection, and take them continuously during the first two to three days, every few hours.

Coloidal silver is another favourite, especially for those with autoimmune conditions, because it doesn't boost immunity, it simply kills viruses on contact with no effect on your immunity. Spraying your mouth and nose with it may reduce your viral load if you are exposed, and gargling with it can be effective for a sore throat.

Lastly, PLEASE do not ingest essential oils without medical supervision. While topical application and aroma therapy can be fantastic, there are companies promoting swallowing these oils to fight infection. You will find all properly educated health practitioners are very concerned about this practice. These oils are a complex of volatile compounds which change within the bodies biochemical pathways. They can have very negative consequences, especially for those who are taking combinations of them or taking them alongside other medications.

Always talk to your health care provider before taking any therapeutic doses of nutraceuticals, especially if you are also on prescription meds.

For more tips on boosting your immunity and supporting any underlying chronic conditions: book an appointment

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