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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Naturally news e-Mag | January 2012 part 2

January Focus | Natural Immune Support
So, the kids come home from school with a cold.  Your coworker is sick with the flu.  Just because you are exposed to a virus, doesn’t mean you are going to get sick or catch a cold or the flu.  However, if your immune system is weakened or not running at its peak, then it is much easier for the viruses to have access, take hold and cause illness.  Heading off to the doctor for antibiotic is of no help, as the common cold and the flu are caused by viruses and not bacteria, and antibiotics don’t work on viruses. 

The cold virus is the most common infectious disease in the United States. Being around people who are coughing and sneezing or walking around outside in the cold are not necessarily the ways in which we catch a cold.  The cold virus stays alive for hours on inanimate objects, such as pens, door knobs, keyboards, etc.
We catch a cold or get the flu when the virus gets past our compromised immune system and takes hold.  We catch a cold or get the flu due to a weakened immune system, not just because we came in contact with someone who was sick. Common contributing factors to a weakened immune system:

  •  Eating too much sugar and too many grains
  •  Poor diet; not enough fruits and vegetables
  •  Not getting enough rest and sleep
  •  Emotional stressors in your life
  •  Any combination of the above

There are some surprisingly simple and natural things you can do to help reduce your risk:
Sugar is particularly stressful to the immune system.  Fruit juices, which are loaded with sugar, should be avoided.  Substituting with sugar-free is not a healthy replacement.  The body can’t process these chemicals.  Artificial sugar substitutes are not only very harmful to the immune system, but also harmful to the organs and the body in general.  Natural sweeteners, such as stevia and agave make great alternatives.

Adjust your diet
As mentioned above, avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners or processed foods. Increase your intake of whole fruits, vegetables and Superfoods which are loaded with food based vitamins, minerals and antioxidants offering natural immune boosting properties.  Try adding more garlic and mushrooms (reishi, shiitake, and maitake) to your diet. Mushrooms contain beta glucans and beta glucans have natural immune enhancing properties. Also, increase herbs and spices, such as turmeric (curcumin), oregano, cinnamon, and cloves which have high ORAC scores and are known to support the immune system. Fermented foods (raw kefir, kimchee, miso, pickles, and sauerkraut) are rich in probiotics (friendly bacteria). Scientific research shows that 80% of your immune system resides inside your digestive tract, so eating probiotic-rich foods, or taking a high-quality probiotic, will help support your immune system health.


Restful & Restorative Sleep
Your immune system operates most effectively when your body is well rested.  Although, our busy lifestyles dictate otherwise, research indicates that the body requires a minimum of eight hours of deep sleep each night.  It is during this deep sleep phase that the body restores itself, hence the term “restorative sleep.” Make sure you are getting enough deep, restful, restorative sleep.  The more rest and sleep your body gets the faster your body will recover.

Regular, Moderate Exercise
Regular exercise is known to increase the body’s resistance to illness. There is evidence that regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk for respiratory illness by boosting your immune system. In fact, one study found that people who exercised regularly (five or more days a week) cut their risk of having a cold by close to 50%. And, in the event they did catch a cold, their symptoms were much less severe than among those who did not exercise.  Be mindful not to over exercise when you are sick.  This puts additional and unnecessary strain on the body’s immune system.

Emotional Stressors
The demands and the effects of the modern day busy lifestyle are not always favorable and most definitely put undue stress on the body and its immune system.  Find ways to remove or minimize these stressors.  Develop healthful living habits.  Schedule a few minutes of personal quiet time each day.  Many people have found stress-relieving benefits from meditating.

Supplements
·         Vitamin C is a well known as a very potent antioxidant.
·         Citrus Bioflavonoids enhance the absorption of Vitamin C helping fight harmful pathogens.
·         Rose Hips are one of the best sources of Vitamin C, which boost the body's immune system.
·         Propolis is a bee resin and one of the most powerful broad-spectrum antimicrobials.
·         Zinc is a well known immune boosting mineral.
·         Herbs –many herbs have been used with proven immune boosting and antimicrobial results.