5 Natural Ways to Support Your Immunity
Immune health seems to be on everyone's mind these days. Although it would be nice to take a magical concoction that makes us invincible to any cold or virus, the science is not quite there yet. What we can control is our lifestyle. Of course, it does not make us bulletproof, but it certainly can make us more resilient. There should be no argument that feeling run down, eating poorly, getting very little sleep, sunlight, and exercising can make us vulnerable. Have you ever gotten sick after a week of exams, a stressful work week, or a night of too much alcohol? Case in point.
Here are 5 tangible goals that we can all try to incorporate:
- Eat More Protein
Many people are not aware that we need protein to make immunoglobulins. Think of these as little soldiers that help fight infections. When our protein intake is low, it leaves us more prone to opportunistic infections and can increase severity. A good rule of thumb is to get around 1.4g/Kg. This translates to a 150 lbs person needing around 100g. To put that into perspective, one chicken breast is around 30 g, one cup of cooked beans is 15 g and one scoop of protein powder is around 25g. A simpler approach to incorporate this is looking at your plate and trying to fill about a quarter of it with a protein source.
- Is Sugar really THAT bad?
The answer is yes - when in excess. Eating or drinking sugary foods can curb our immune system cells that attack bacteria and viruses. This effect can last up to 5 hours, which is more than enough time to let our immunity guard down. Now, this is not to label “good” foods or “bad” foods. Please enjoy the treats - they are enjoyable and can bond family and friends. This is more for knowledge and understanding of how we can control some aspects of our health.
- Support the Microbiome
It has been estimated that the human gut houses 100 trillion microbial cells, which is 10 times the number of human cells. We are more bacteria than we are humans! The immune system is particularly interconnected with gut bacteria. In fact, 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. Bacteria relay messages about foreign invaders (ie viruses and pathogenic bacteria) so that the immune system can respond appropriately. If we have an unhealthy and less diverse microbiome, then this communication and consequently immunity is compromised. Improving your diet by cutting out processed foods and including more prebiotic fibre (vegetables and legumes) can increase biodiversity. Also, having probiotic-rich foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, and probiotics may restore the composition and a more efficient gut microbiome.
- Check your micronutrients
A deficiency of single nutrients can alter the body’s immune response. Research has found that inadequate intake of zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron, copper, folate, and vitamins A, B6, C, D and E can all have a major effect on immune health. These nutrients help the immune system in several ways: working as an antioxidant to protect healthy cells, supporting the growth and activity of immune cells, and producing antibodies. Research has found that those who are poorly nourished are at greater risk of bacterial, viral, and other infections. Some of these micronutrients can be hard to get in our diets despite regular consumption of whole foods. A high-quality multi-vitamin can help fill the void that may be missing.
- What is your sleep like?
While you’re asleep, your immune system releases a type of protein called cytokines. This is necessary to fight infection, inflammation and protect your body from the effects of stress. If you’re regularly sleep-deprived, your immune system’s protective cytokine production may decrease. Sleep deprivations also put people at risk for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which consequently has additional effects on immunity. Typically 7-8 hours is recommended for most adults and can be attained by following sleep hygiene practices, exercising earlier in the day, as well as stress management techniques.
About Dr. Rachelle Viinberg
For further immune support, I am accepting a limited number of new patients. Learn more: https://drkristylewis.ca/rachelle-booking/. Lifestyle, nutrition, stress management, a detailed blood work analysis, and targeted supplements can help you attain your best self.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals. Medications and various diagnoses need to be properly evaluated by a healthcare professional before incorporating any supplementation.