Just because the winter months are settling in and the prevalence of colds, flu and infections increases doesn’t mean that you have to join the “sick club”.
I believe that supporting immunity is a 12-month necessity and not something that should be thought of when illness has already taken hold. Therefore, preparing and arming yourself against any unwanted bacteria and viruses needs to be of focus at the commencement of autumn.
Throughout the year there are some supplements, foods, and herbs etc that are always part of my health plan. In terms of supplements I always take a practitioner only Multi-Vitamin, Iron & Vitamin D. But as autumn comes around I start to include some powerful immune boosting minerals & herbs and up my intake of warming foods and practices.
Here are a few of my Immune Boosting Tips.
~ Antioxidants are the 1st line of defense against free radical damage (they cause disease & aging). Apart from taking an antioxidant supplement daily it’s so important to consume antioxidant rich foods daily. For me this involves eating lots of vegetables- making them my food pharmacy. I eat a lot of vegetables not only because they are good for me but also because I love them. Carrots, spinach, zucchini, sweet potato, celery, white potato and capsicum etc make up a large portion of my diet. I believe in having a mix of colour throughout the week as each differently coloured vegetable provides an array of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. I also consume lots of berries for their powerful antioxidant properties.
~ Starting your day off with Hot Water & Lemon not only alkalizes the body and supports your liver but gives you a dose of Vitamin C which I like to call a little solider in your body. The body uses Vitamin C to signal the production of White Blood Cells (WBC) that protect us from bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C is present in the fluid lining of the lungs and mucus membranes where the antioxidant activity helps keep inflammation and damage under control. Vitamin C is also responsible for the production of collagen (a major structural protein in skin) and who doesn’t want more collagen & hence beautiful skin!!! Vitamin C rich foods include capsicum, citrus foods, tomato, leafy greens, broccoli and berries.
~ Vitamin D – Less sunlight means less Vitamin D absorption by the skin in the cooler months. I’m religious about my Vitamin D intake throughout the year. Vitamin D isn’t a vitamin as such but a hormone and involved not only in the absorption of calcium by the bones but protects us against cancers such as breast and skin cancer and is a mood regulator. I recommend 2000IU for most patients unless they are quiet deficient and require higher doses to up their blood serum levels.
~ Zinc – Every autumn and throughout winter Zinc becomes part of my immunity plan. Its such an amazing mineral that’s very deficient in our foods due to over processing and the stripping that occurs during manufacturing and is quiet deficient within soil. Zinc supports immune function, repairs tissue damage, regulates sex hormone balance and digestion. It’s needed for your stimulation of WBC and works in synergy with WBC.
~ Hydration – 70% of our body is made up of water. Unintentional dehydration leads to inflammation. Water in soups, broths/stocks and herbal teas all contribute to your water intake. Take note to keep hydrated if you fall ill as you loose quiet a bit of fluid if you have a fever and are blowing your nose constantly.
~ Bone Broths. I love bone broths and stocks. Stocks and broths support the Immune System. The marrow that leaks into the stock from chicken, chicken bones or other meat such as osso bocco has great immune properties. An amino acid called cysteine can help to thin mucus sitting in lungs when unwell making expulsion easier.
~ In Chinese Medicine we believe in the Energetics of food. Every food be it a piece of chicken, apple or carrot has its own nutritional property, energy and supports the body in various ways. Every food is either cold, cool, warm, hot or neutral in nature. In the cooler months focus should be on warming & nourishing foods to dispel cold, improve circulation and support Gut Health. 80% of our immunity lies within the GUT. Warming herbs such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg and cinnamon should regularly is included in cooking. Garlic, leeks pumpkin, lamb & chai tea consumed regularly as they are warming in nature.
Also including a high quality probiotic into your morning routine is very beneficial and supportive to the immune system. Remember to take it 15 minutes prior to breakfast with a glass of warm water.
~ Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine practitioners also advise patients to steer clear or reduce consumption of mucus & phlegm forming foods as they are too taxing on the spleen and lead to mucus production in the body and hence lungs & mucus membranes. These include diary, cold raw foods, fried greasy foods, peanuts, soy, bananas and oranges.
~ It always astounds me when I see people on cold cool days wearing thongs and a t-shirt or lightweight top or jacket. Remember to dress for the season and keep warm!!! I’m quiet firm with my patients when it comes to rugging up. If I don’t see a scarf around their neck on a cold day I get a little annoyed!! The neck region is so venerable to wind cold invasions. Wind cold invasions often lead to not only sore stiff necks and headaches but also colds. Wearing a beanie on cold days is also important, as 80% of our body heat is lost via the head.
~ Avoiding Sugar – If you don’t already know I’m very anti-sugar. Sugar is very inflammatory leading to systemic inflammation and a decrease in immunity. Be very mindful of the amount of sugar you are consuming daily.
~ Burning Tea Tree or Eucalyptus Oil in an oil burner at work or home helps rid the air of viruses floating in the air.
Season of Autumn
Element – Metal
Yin Organ – Lung
Yang Organ – Large Intestine
Emotion – Grief
Climate – Dryness
Flavour – Pungent
Colour – White
Sense Organ – Nose
Tissue – Skin
Sound – Crying