It’s at around this time of the year that I start to think about boosting my family’s immune systems in preparation for the coming winter months and all those dreaded lurgies that come with them! I must admit, that I do have a bit of an arsenal of things that I like to use for this purpose. The good news for you, is that I’m about to go through most of them so you can start building your own arsenal too!
Our immune systems learn by catching things, which is a positive part of life (though tell that to someone who’s sniffly, feeling ragged and coughing everywhere, and they may not agree!). However, as far as ‘catching things’ is concerned, there’s a lot that can be done to lessen the burden on us (the stuffy noses, feeling ragged etc). Herbs, food, supplemental nutrients and a host of beneficial, immune boosting therapies are you friends here, I encourage you to get to know them, and get to know them well!
Vitamin C is one of our main antioxidants. This means, it goes around and cleans things up. Vitamin C can help to maintain a healthy immune system and can provide relief from the symptoms of colds and flus. Vitamin C is also a beneficial nutrient for our adrenal glands, which are largely responsible for how well we deal with stress. Long term stress can negatively impact our immune system, so boosting vitamin C levels in the body can help maintain immunity in more ways than one. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, aloe vera juice, rosehips, blackcurrant, parsley, sweet potato, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Of course it is better to maintain a high level of food based vitamin C for your immunity, however, I like to start supplementation when a lot of people around me are sick, or if I start to feel a little low on energy at those times.
Vitamins A & D
Cod liver oil is one of your best sources of natural vitamin A and D. Both of these nutrients are important for immune health and the health of our mucous membranes (the skin lining the inside of our mouths, throats, lungs etc), which can get quite a battering from respiratory infections. The lining along these membranes are responsible for a large chunk of our immune health so it pays to keep them well. Vitamin D is made naturally by exposing your bare skin to the sun. Deficiencies today however, are very common. This is due to limited sun exposure, certain medications, and even problems converting this exposure into vitamin D in the body. Cholesterol is critical to the conversion process, so anyone on cholesterol medications may wish to get their levels checked.
Saccharomyces bouladii (SB) and probiotics
These are some of the core nutrients to get friendly with! SB is actually a beneficial yeast – yes, I did say beneficial! SB enhances something called secretory IgA, one of the critical things maintaining the health of the mucous membrane lining, as discussed above. Probiotics are responsible for not only for gut health, but the bulk of our immune system which resides in our gut. Probiotics are generally part of most of my immune enhancing prescriptions.
Certain mushrooms have an incredible ability to boost our immune systems. This tends to lend itself to the more exotic mushrooms including shiitake, maitake, reishi etc. Mushroom supplements are available these days, meaning you can use a few drops of a liquid rather than eat many kilos of mushrooms! Mushroom supplements are excellent immune boosters.
There are an incredible array of herbal medicines that can aid with immunity and other winter ailments. Naturopaths can mix up tonics to help get rid of phlegm and mucous, soothe irritated throats, boost your immunity to guard against catching cold / flus / etc. Herbal tonics can be mixed up for most things in fact and can be used for young and old. We have a bunch of ready made herbal tonics at Saltuary (e.g. immune booster, stress buster, liver helper, etc). We are also happy to mix up tonics specific to your needs, you simply need to come in and see us. Personally, herbs are one of my favourites. My kids tend to get a dose of them most days, especially in the lead up to winter!
Heat proceeding foods such as ginger, chilli and garlic are great at helping the immune system fight off invaders as they can increase your temperature, just the same as a fever does. They promote sweating which helps to detox your system and promotes blood flow and clearing of lymph. Garlic is also potently antibacterial – something winter ailments don’t like!
Acupuncture is one of my first pit stops for my kids or I when we get mucousy. Acupuncture balances our bodies internally to promote a return to a healthy state. I like to think of it as the ‘kiss of death’ for all things snot related when it comes to winter bugs! It can also be used preventatively, to keep you stronger against catching those dreaded winter ailments too. Lisa, our resident acupuncturist has over 26 years experience too.. amazing!
Aaaahhh…. the infrared sauna – yum! This little room at Saltuary is magic as far as I am concerned! Promoting a fever in your body, it works with your body to help heat and sweat bugs out of your system. Incredibly detoxifying too, it’s a very popular choice for many of our clients to help them get over respiratory problems.
Salt therapy helps to calm and cleanse the respiratory system and again, can be used both preventatively or to assist in getting rid of mucousy colds, flus, bronchitis etc. Salt therapy is a gentle, relaxing way to help yourself breathe better and easier.. great for when you’re feeling all blocked up. A few sessions are generally needed to make a difference.. We have a beautiful variety of books for you to enjoy in there too which makes for a beautiful experience whilst getting busy boosting your immune system!
Saltuary stocks most of the above supplements and many more to keep you going naturally throughout winter. Come in and see us and we’ll work out the best treatment plan for you!