The best Naturopathic approach to supporting our Immune function as we prepare for winter is an all-inclusive plan involving diet, lifestyle, stress reduction, exercise, nutritional supplements, herbal medicines and a positive outlook.
Firstly lets take a look at what depletes our immune function. Stressful circumstances, lack of sleep and poor nutritional status have a powerful impact on our immune function, as does smoking and high sugar diets – intake of 100g of refined sugar such as sweets / honey / bottled fruit juice / alcohol – depresses immune cell activity by 50% for up to 4 hours after ingestion, leaving us more susceptible to infection.
Taking the following measures will both boost your immune function and your vitality during the winter months:
• Eating regular meals
• Choosing a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables daily
• Opting for whole grains, raw nuts, legumes, seeds and cold water fish
• Getting adequate sleep and regular exercise
• Having a relaxed and positive mental attitude & laughing lots
• Taking a daily high-potency multi vitamin/mineral supplement
• Healthy gut flora, good digestion and avoidance of dietary allergens are imperative to optimal immunity, as more than 70% of our immune system directly surrounds the gut!
In addition, a large amount of research shows that garlic has immune enhancing properties and is antiviral, even at one clove per day. A daily fresh vegetable juice (eg. carrot, celery, ginger, parsley, beets, apple, lemon) is a wonderful supplement to a basic good diet, adding vitamins A, C, minerals and antioxidants.
Numerous herbal medicines – Indian, Chinese and Western – are available to naturally support our Immune function, but be wary of over-the-counter products and self prescribing as many products are ineffective due to quality, manufacturing and dosage issues. For valuable advice, speak to a qualified Naturopath or Herbalist.