04 Oct Six easy ways to support your immune system
Now that summer is over and we’re starting to return indoors, it’s important to take care of ourselves. This is after all, the time of year that colds and flu begin to ramp up (not to mention COVID-19). To help you optimize your ability to fight off infection, today I’m sharing a few simple tips that can help you stay healthy and in doing so, reduce transmission of sickness to others.
- Wash your hands often. Yes I said it! Sick of hearing it? Probably, but honestly it’s the
single BEST thing you can do to keep yourself from getting sick. Every time you are in a new
room, a new store, a new place – do your best to avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
Wash your hands or use alcohol sanitizer frequently.
- Drink plenty of water. What does water do? It hydrates your body and helps your mucous
membranes stay moist which improves the integrity of these tissues. It also allows the mucous
that we produce and secrete to flow easily, coating the nasal passageways and the mucous
membranes in the mouth and back of the throat.
- Get plenty of sleep – 6-8hours is ideal for most people. Cortisol levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the evening. By sleeping at regular times, you support the body’s natural circadian rhythm. This helps reduce stress levels on the body thereby allowing our immune systems to focus on important priorities like protecting our bodies from invading bacteria and viruses.
- Avoid mucous forming foods like bananas and fruit juices (yes that also means oranges).
Too much sugar does two things: a) it thickens our saliva and mucous (have you ever eaten a
banana and got the “pasties”? b) too much refined sugars and fructose can lower our immune
system. While fruit for the most part is healthy and good for us – too much can tax the body by
altering gut flora (and in turn, the immune system). As I write this I have an idea for another
blog post in the future “Gut health and our immune system” – stay tuned for this at a later date.
- Supplementation – there have been a number of studies recently published showing that individuals with lower Vitamin D levels in the body are more susceptible to colds and flu. I have added some of these references to the bottom of this post. To find out if your vitamin D levels are low, consider booking an appointment in with your MD or ND to have this level checked. OHIP and MSP does not usually cover this test, so you will be required to pay between $35-$50.
- Questions? If you have any questions about how best to support your immune system throughout the fall and winter seasons, consider booking an appointment with your naturopathic doctor, or if you don’t already have one, you are welcome to contact me.
Aaron Van Gaver, Naturopathic Doctor, DeerFields Clinic
• Effect of calcifediol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy
on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized from
COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2020;
203:105751 – https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2020.105751
• Immune modulatory effects of Vitamin D on viral infections. Nutrients. 2020; 12(9): 2879
• Impact of Vitamin D deficiency on COVID-19 – A prospective analysis from the CovILD
Registry. Nutrients. 2020; 12(9): 2775 – https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092775
• Vitamin D deficiency and outcome of COVID-19 patients. Nutrients. 2020; 12(9): 2757 –
• Vitamin D deficiency and co-morbidities in COVID-19 patients: A fatal relationship? NFS
Journal. 2020; 20 – https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.nfs.2020.06.001
• Immunologic effects of vitamin D on human health and disease. Nutrients. 2020; 12(7) –