Natural Ways To Boost Immunity

Need help with natural ways to boost immunity. Read what Naturopath Leanne James suggests

Already the cold and flu season has started with a “hiss and a roar”. While some people choose to have the flu vaccine, for others, prevention is the main focus for them and their family.  In this post, I talk about ways to help to build up immunity – so taking on board the old saying of “prevention is better than cure”

Firstly you may ask Why is it, that the winter bugs seem to be affecting us more and more these days. Many bugs are becoming stronger and stronger and more resistant to standard treatment.  But as well as this, I believe our lifestyles are one of the main things to blame. A lot of us work in office blocks, under fluro lights and hardly every see the light of day. We all seem to be so busy racing around and many companies have cut down on staff, so the workload put on the individual is often extreme.

Because so many people are under regular stress, they also don’t always eat properly and their immunity is often lower and viruses, coughs and colds can take hold more easily.

So, what can we do to help keep our immunity higher and the winter bugs at bay?

Boost your immune system specifically

If an invader comes into your body, your defense system needs to be ready to respond, no matter what type of virus or bacteria it is.  To do this you could consider these things.

Take an immunity tonic

My 2 favourite products for immune boosting/strengthening are System Well Ultimate Immunity and Astra Forte.

Astraforte comes in both a liquid and in tablets.  It is a deep immune rebuilding tonic that assists in conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, glandular fever, lack of vitality, repetitive cold and flu infections, debilitated immune function, debilitation from chemotherapy, post infection recovery, as a liver tonic for hepatitis and for a bronchial cough.

We also love System Well Ultimate Immunity, the most complete and comprehensive herbal and nutritional formula for immune support. This formula is designed to strengthen the seven different mechanisms of immunity. Each tablet contains herbs well known for its ability to assist the natural healthy function of various body systems. Research has shown that many of these herbs have both direct and indirect benefits to the human immune system.  We have many overseas customers who took System Well while visiting NZ, only to request we ship a bottle or two to them once they returned home, as they could not find anything else that worked as effectively to strengthen their immunity.

If your immune system is weak and its power is low, then an immune stimulant like Echinacea cannot work as effectively. Taking an immune tonic with Astragalus (one of the herbs in Astra Forte) will help to restore immune competency and power, so Echinacea can work again.

If you fail to recover your strength and vitality after an illness such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia, you will know that you have depleted your immune power.

A pre-winter course of Astraforte or System Well will help to keep your immunity higher. We always have a bottle of either one at home, so that if I have been under a lot of extra stress or feel like I’m coming down with something, I take the recommended dosage for a week or 10 days. The difference is very noticeable after a course of Astra Forte or System Well.

The role of probiotics in Immunity

As 70% of your immune system is situated in your intestinal wall, it only makes sense to take a probiotic, to help with immune strengthening. If you have previously taken antibiotics, and did not take a course of probiotics to replenish the beneficial intestinal bacteria, there is a chance your immunity will have already been affected by this.

It is said that for each 1 course of antibiotics taken, it takes around 1 month of supplementing with a probiotic supplement (not just probiotic yoghurt) to replenish the beneficial bacteria depleted from just this 1 course.

A problem though is, that not all probiotic supplements are created equally.  We recommend the Ethical Nutrients family of probiotics.

Inner Health Plus contains medical strength strains of acidophilus & bifidobacterium,  with colostrum & a specially formulated matrix called probioplex.

The Ethical Nutrients range of probiotics

Different strains of probiotics do different things.

The strain of acidophilus “NCFM acidophilus” can survive the passage through the human gastro intestinal tract (bile and acid resistant) to aid in the maintenance of a normal healthy gastro intestinal system and digestive function.  If you have been taking antibiotics, a probiotic can assist in maintaining the balance of good bacteria and is also useful for symptoms of bloating, gas or flatulence. It aids in maintaining a normal healthy immune system.

Ethical Nutrients have also added their immune specific probiotic formula for adults and children – Immune Booster for Adults  which features the clinically trialled probiotic strains Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL 9) and Lactobacillus paracasei (8700:2). Taken daily, this probiotic can help to boost immune system function and reduce the frequency of colds, severity of colds, the duration of colds and the incidence of acquiring more than one cold episode. Taking Immune Booster for Adults can also reduce the number of sick days, due to a cold.  They also have their immune powder for children – Immune Booster for Kids powder   suitable for those 2 years and over. Featuring a clinically trialled, exclusive blend of the probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM) organisms and Bifidobacterium lactis (Bi-07) organisms, shown that with regular use it may reduce the frequency of symptoms of colds and flu. Reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms. Reduce the number of days absent from childcare or school due to colds. Reduce the incidence of: Runny noses, Coughs, Boost immune system function.  For those under 2 years, they have their Inner Health for kids, which is suitable for those from 0 onwards.

Colostrum for Immunity

We are lucky here in New Zealand to have high quality dairy products, with colostrum being one of these.  Colostrum is the first secretion produced from the mammary gland, which precedes milk. During the first 24-48 hours following birth, colostrum provides life supporting immune and growth factors (IgG and IgF). These help form the building blocks for healthy development. Colostrum is so important to baby animals that they would die without it.  Colostrum comes in powder, which can be given to children and animals, capsules and also chewable tablets.  We also have the Clinicians Immune support spray. Immune Support is a new generation immune balancer which contains Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRP’s) extracted from colostrum. PRP are a natural component of colostrum that act as immune signalling messengers to help co-ordinate the immune response. Immune support supports recovery from ills and chills and the bodys natural response to allergens.  You can read more about Colostrum here.

Cats Claw and Olive Leaf extract for Immunity

Natures herbs to the rescue! Cats claw and Olive leaf are other good herbs to use at this time of year, to help with immunity and to help ward away virus’s and bacteria.  They are ideal to use at the onset of illness and then carried on for a further week once all symptoms have gone (to ensure you got rid of it properly)

Cats Claw is my #one favourite herb for immunity.  It supports a wide range of health ailments associated with the immune system and digestion, such as gastric ulcers, arthritis, intestinal disorders, certain skin disorders, herpes, candida, chronic fatigue, lupus and tumours. The root of cats claw has been studied extensively to show a significant immuno-stimulant activity.

Olive Leaf extract has been found to boost energy and aid in the treatment of viral, bacteria, yeast and fungal infections. Olive leaf compound has an ability to ‘restrain’ viral infections, by inactivating viruses, preventing virus shedding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane.  We have our own Superior Olive Leaf, which contains Olive leaf, as well as the anti viral herb Elderberry and the immunity nutrients Selenium and Zinc.  This is a winner for those with cold and flu symptoms, to help to treat the symptoms and get over them faster.

Multivitamin/mineral formula with antioxidants for better immunity

It is well documented that most of us would benefit from taking a multi vitamin/mineral formula.  When you think that here in New Zealand we have 2 key immunity antioxidants missing in our soils – Zinc and Selenium, it only makes sense to supplement with these, as well as a full assortment of the key nutrients needed for good health.

The main key antioxidant nutrients include Vitamins A, C, E zinc and selenium.  Our own Xcel Health MultiVite takes these nutrients into consideration, as does Ethical Nutrients Super Multi Plus. Alternatively, an antioxidant like Nutralife Enzogenol ACE contains these nutrients, plus you also obtain the benefits of the added Enzogenol – the New Zealand Pine Bark Extract.  You can read more about Enzogenol here.

If you are looking for a “wholefood” multivitamin, then Enzymedica Enzyme Nutrition Multi-Vitamin, 100% whole food nutritional supplement may be the one for you.  This multivitamin has been formulated using enzyme activated nutrients, as part of a whole food matrix. Additional Thera-blend enzymes, enhance utilisation of vitamins, minerals, superfoods and botanicals. The enhanced blend maximizes the ability to increase energy and support immune function while providing daily antioxidant support. Free from gluten, dairy and soy. Suitable for vegetarians.

If you cant swallow a tablet or capsule, but want a multi for the whole family, then consider Clinicians Multivitamin & Mineral Boost Powder.  This comprehensive nutritional powder covers most bases (except for Iron) and comes in a strong citrus Vitamin c base and is sweetened with stevia.  The dosage is adjusted depending on the age and is suitable for the whole family.

Eat well for better Immunity

vegetables

Eating a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables is important for immunity

Eating a broad diet, which contains a good variety of fresh fruit &/or veggies – ideally, at least ½ of your daily food intake, is important. These can be eaten as salad vegetables, put into a smoothy or juiced, or lightly cooked in a stir fry or by steaming these.  Many people worry about eating frozen vegetables.
Of course fresh is best, but if you didn’t get to the green grocer to get your fresh supply, then using a New Zealand grown frozen vegetable range is a lot better than missing out on your veggies altogether.  I personally think it is important to buy New Zealand grown produce.  Due to the variation in supply of vegetables, many producers source imported vegetables grown in Australia or China.

Talley’s tell us that they are the only range that is absolutely 100% home grown where Watties tell us that over 90% of vegetables and potatoes used in Watties frozen vegetable products are home grown in NZ. These include: peas, carrots, baby carrots, corn, green & yellow beans, broad beans, and potatoes.

The more brightly coloured the vegetable, the higher the level of antioxidants this contains.  Purple, red and orange are good ones to choose.  You can read more about Antioxidants here.

Fresh air and exercise for better Immunity

Getting outside to get some fresh air every day is vital.  There are so many reasons why this is vital, but if we are talking about Immunity, then getting your daily dose of Vitamin D by exposing your skin to direct sunlight is vital.  It is common to find that those with a lowered immune system also have low vitamin D levels.  Vitamin D is involved with T-cell activation, the killer cells that detect and then kill bacteria and viruses.

Don’t bother asking your GP to test your Vitamin D levels though, as they have been instructed to not offer this “expensive” blood test, but to just treat with Vitamin D if they think levels are low or if it is clinically relevant.  If you are prepared to pay for it, you can request it through your GP, but expect to pay up to $50.  You can read more information on Vitamin D here.

If I am feeling low, stressed or just plain bored, then there is no better medicine for me than going for a walk along the beach and breathing in that fresh sea air, to blow away those cob webs.  If you need motivation, get a walking partner.   There are groups like Meetup which organise walking groups.

If you need some specific advice with regard to winter immunity, don’t hesitate to contact our Naturopathic team, who will be happy to steer you in the right direction.

Author
Leanne James
Naturopath
Founder Ideal Health

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