Ten Steps to Building Immunity Naturally

August 28, 2013

By Anna Varriano

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Every time flu season comes around, I get lots of questions about how to build up our immune systems. This article shares 10 simple things that you can do (not necessarily in order from most to least important) to build your immunity naturally and to prevent illness.

1) Vitamin D

Recent research indicates that vitamin D deficiency is likely the reason for the seasonality of the flu – not the flu virus itself.

Taking vitamin D is likely the single most important and inexpensive thing you can do to decrease your risk of getting the flu. Many sources state that children can take up to 2,000 IU/day, adults up to 5,000 IU/day. Some researchers suggest doubling this dose for a week if you feel you are coming down with something or if you do get sick.

An excellent resource for Vitamin D research is http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/. When purchasing vitamin D, look for brands that are bio-emulsified for maximum absorption and efficacy.

2) Probiotics

Healthy gut flora plays a big part in protecting the body from illness. To promote healthy gut flora, consume naturally lacto-fermented foods and drinks whenever you can and take a good probiotic supplement (multiple strains, heat and acid resistant) daily. See my May 2008 Tip of the Month in the Library section for more information on probiotics

3) Get Enough Sleep

Your body can only repair and rejuvenate when it is resting. When it comes to sleep (and most everything else) your body craves routine. Have a bedtime routine and try to stick to it every night of the week. Whenever possible, get to bed by 10pm and wake up at 6am. The hours of sleep you get before midnight are very important. Your body cannot ‘make-up’ for sleep deprivation.

4) Exercise and Releasing Stress

Exercise has many benefits. It boosts the circulation of your blood and lymph, which helps to better circulate immune system cells. Stress suppresses the immune system, so it is important that you find ways that help you deal with, minimize and eliminate the stress in your life. Some suggestions include walking in nature, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, hobbies and anything that makes you laugh!

5) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These fats offer numerous health benefits, one of which is keeping our immune system healthy. Food sources include fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, salmon, ground flax seeds/flax seed oil and chia seeds. Most of us are seriously deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, so supplementation with a professional, high quality omega-3 supplement is critical.

6) Eat Healthy

Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (local & organic is best). Drink plenty of pure (filtered) water and avoid sugar and processed foods as these nutrient-poor foods supress the immune system.

7) Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a good source of lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which the human body can convert into monolaurin. Monolaurin is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride which can destroy lipid coated viruses, such as the swine flu virus. Interestingly, breast milk contains lauric acid and a study published in 1998, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that lactating mothers who eat coconut oil and coconut products, increased lauric acid levels in their breast milk significantly – up to three times the original level. I eat coconut oil every day. My clients and students lovingly refer to me as the ‘crazy coconut lady’!

8) Hygiene

Wash your hands often and keep them away from your mouth, nose and eyes. Health Canada explains proper hand washing techniques and other tips for minimizing the spread of germs at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/hands-mains-eng.php. Avoid using anti-bacterial soaps; they kill good bacteria along with the bad, which can contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Also, sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hands, so you avoid spreading germs when touching objects and other people (e.g. shaking hands).

9) Eat Garlic & Olive Oil

Both have anti-microbial properties. Garlic is a natural broad-spectrum antibiotic that won’t cause antibiotic resistance. Raw is best. For olive oil, organic, extra-virgin, cold-pressed is best. Look for brands that are unfiltered (they will look cloudy and really green). When tasting the olive oil on its own, you should notice a peppery, slightly ‘stinging’ sensation in the back of your throat.

10) OscillococcinumTM

This homeopathic remedy is a safe and very effective way to prevent and decrease the duration of the flu. Prevention protocol depends on your risk:

  • Low risk cases – take one tube per month from October to the end of March
  • Moderate risk cases – take one tube every 2 weeks from October to the end of March
  • High risk cases – take one tube weekly from October to the end of March

As a treatment, as soon as you suspect you may be getting the flu, follow the instructions on the packaging. Oscillococcinum is available through the Natural Health Centre, 2605 Carling Avenue, Ottawa. See my Oct 2007 Tip of the Month under the Library section of the website for more info on Oscillococcinum.

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