By Dr. Laura Thompson
It amazes me how backwards the conventional media sees things. I caught a piece of the news yesterday – “Next time you catch a cold, expect to wait a little longer for your relief. Federal regulations about amphetamine addiction and cold medications are now forcing pharmacies to put certain cold and flu products behind the counter.” Pharmacists are up in arms about this hassle. It is more work for them. Yikes! Here we are talking about more government control, amphetamine addiction, no trust in the power of the human body, complications for pharmacists which may drive up the prices, when – WE HAVE ANSWERS AT OUR FINGERTIPS THAT DON’T REQUIRE US TO NEED THE MEDICATIONS TO BEGIN WITH.
Why wait for the cold, flu, or other infection. No need to bother with cold meds, if you are equipped. You can prevent the infection, if you know how to. You can beat the odds of the standard “2 colds per year” (and up to 6 colds per year if you have young children in day care or preschool). Just keep your natural medicine cabinet supplied with items that really address bacterial and viral eradication and, most of all, strengthen your immune system.
Is Your Immune System Healthy or Compromised?
A Healthy Immune System is a complex network of tissues, organs, cells and chemical messengers that protect us against the daily bombardment of germs, bacteria, and other pathogens that contribute to everything from minor infections to more serious diseases.
It is easy to recognize a compromised immune system. Some symptoms include:
- Frequent colds or flu
- Recurring fatigue
- Gastrointestinal problems: constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating
- Malabsorption of nutrients, causing anemia, hair loss, vision problems
- Recurring yeast infections: nails, sinuses, vaginal, prostate
- Skin problems: eczema, psoriasis, itching, fungus, parasites
- 5 Eating Habits That Weaken the Immune System
Sugar – All forms of sugar (including honey) interfere with the ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria.
Fat – Destructive fats are found in processed and fast foods. Being overweight stresses the whole body and puts it in a constant state of fight/flight which raises cortisol levels. This can suppress the immune system.
Alcohol – Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of valuable immune-boosting nutrients. Second, alcohol, like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs.
Chemicals and Processed Food – Avoid processed foods with long ingredient lists: frozen foods, canned foods, packaged foods (boxed cereals, mixes, cookies, candy, diet products). Identify BHT, BHA, TBHQ, sodium benzoate, nitrates, sulfites, food colorings, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors on your labels.
Food Allergens – After many encounters with food allergens, the wall of the intestines becomes damaged, enabling invaders and other potentially toxic substances in the food to slip into the bloodstream and cause inflammatory reactions. Inflammation, discomfort, and pain can result. This condition is known as “leaky gut syndrome”. It can even cause arthritis and fibromyalgia. Common intestinal irritants and immune challengers are gluten-containing grains, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, soy, sugar, chocolate, caffeine, oranges.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Needless to say, try to pay attention to the above immune-weakening foods and reduce or eliminate them altogether. Fortify your immune system by strengthening its organs and increasing the effectiveness of your white blood cells can help reduce many of the above symptoms and conditions. Here are some suggestions:
10 Simple Immune Boosters
Aim for total wellness by supplementing your food intake with strong immune support products, such as oregano oil, vitamins A, C and D, echinacea, goldenseal, elderberry, colostrum and blue green algae. Regular use can help prevent your body’s susceptibility to infection.
Populate your intestines with adequate good bacteria that retard the growth of infectious organisms in the intestines. Live cultures are also contained in homemade yogurt and fermented foods, such as sauerkraut. Supplementing with good quality acidophilus or bifidus is a way to build your internal army and create your own natural, internal antibiotics.
Exercise moderately, for at least 20-30 minutes per day. Make it fun, something you like to do – yoga, walking, biking, hiking. It doesn’t always have to be hard work.
Drink pure spring or filtered water as your main beverage. Sparkling water, organic coffee and teas are available for occasional use. Use this formula to figure out your optimal daily water intake: Take your weight, divide by 2, and that’s how many ounces of water you should drink daily.
Make your plates colorful, planning your meals around a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Different colors represent different vitamins and minerals and these phytonutrients enhance immune function and oxygenate your cells.
Get your adrenal stress hormones checked through salivary testing. Chronic stress can raise adrenal cortisol levels and weaken the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and the flu, as well as more serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Balancing adrenal function can signal the immune system to work more efficiently.
- Enjoy 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Relax your stress away. Meditate, pray, palm your eyes. Have a massage or other body work.
Release negative emotions. You know what we mean – guilt, anger, distrust. Easier said than done — we know; we’re human too. But working on mental-emotional well being is probably more important than anything else! Studies have shown that this has a positive effect on white blood cells or the immune system. And let’s face it, when you feel better mentally, you usually feel better physically!
Dr. Laura Thompson, Family Nutritionist and Naturopathic Endocrinologist has a nationwide practice by phone, and locally in Carlsbad, California. For further information about her services, call 800-608-5602.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products suggested, are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please check with your health care practitioner for your best health options.