Immunity for the Colder Months: Thinking Outside the Box

 As the weather begins to change and the colder months approach, we are inevitably approaching cold and flu season as well. During the colder months, supporting immunity and doing everything we can to avoid getting sick become a big consideration for most people. There are several factors that can make us more susceptible to illness during the winter months including the increased amount of time spent indoors which increases the chance of spread of germs and the fact that cold exposure can suppress the immune system. By keeping our immune systems strong we can reduce our chances of getting sick this winter. The following are some natural ways to support immunity during the next several months as well as natural approaches to combatting the dreaded cold or flu:

     1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for supporting the health of our immune system. Vitamin D is produced as a byproduct by the body after sun exposure and since sun exposure is decreased during the winter, Vitamin D deficiency becomes very common. Vitamin D supports the immune system by helping to activate certain immune cells that respond to any exposure to pathogens. If we are deficient in Vitamin D this can lead to a lowered immune response to any infection in the body. Because the winter months usually bring less sun exposure and as a result less Vitamin D production, it is usually recommended to supplement with Vitamin D at least throughout the winter. 

     2. Zinc

 Zinc is a nutrient that functions in many different complex pathways in the body and many of those pathways are critical for immune health. Zinc is crucial for normal immune cell development and helps to balance our immune response to any foreign invaders. Studies even show that increased zinc supplementation during a cold may help to decrease the length of illness. Eating foods rich in zinc like chickpeas, flax or pumpkin seeds and spinach can increase zince levels to help improve our immune response. Zinc lozenges are another easy way to increase zinc levels in our body.  

     3. Vitamin C

Many of us associate Vitamin C with immune system support and it does play an important role in the health of the immune system. Several important immune system cells like t-cells and phagocytes require Vitamin C in order to function and a Vitamin C deficiency can casue a lowered resistence to certain pathogens. Vitamin C can also stimulate the production of antibodies and white blood cells for the immune system. Another way that Vitamin C can help support immunity is by helping to regulate the body's stress response. Like zinc, Vitamin C may also help to decrease the duration of infection for a common cold. 

When taking higher doses of Vitamin C, it can be hard for our bodies to absorb the full amount and may actually cause discomfort in the GI tract. Taking Vitamin C in a liposomal form allows for optimal absorption and bioavailability without the unpleasant side affects that usually come along with high oral doses. Liposomal Vitamin C by Designs for Health provides 1000mg of Vitamin C per serving in an easily absorbable and pleasant tasting liquid form. 

     4. Elderberry

The Sambucus nigra plant, more well known as Elderberry, contains a varitey of flavonoids that have been found to have a variety of medicinal properties including antioxidant and immune boosting. Scientific research shows that elderberry can help activate the body's immune system and may significantly reduce the length of illness. Elderberry works by stimulating the immune system to produce cytokines, which are the chemical messengers of the immune system. It also may have some antimicrobial properties that can help to fight off an infection and can help to balance the inflammatory response that causes so much discomfort when we are sick. Elderberry is fairly fast acting and can be taken at the first signs of illness or long term to help boost the immune system. It is available in many different forms including lozenges, syrup and gummies and has a pleasant taste which makes it easy to use as a supplement for all ages. 

Two excellent products that contain Elderberry include Imuunoberry Liquid by Designs for Health and Triguard Plus by Oxygen Nutrition. Immunoberry Liquid is an immune supportive supplement containing elderberry, astragalus, wild cherry bark and a blend of mushrooms. This combination of herbs and other compounds provides well-rounded support for all aspects of the immune response. It is pleasant tasting as well and easy to take. Triguard Plus is combination of olive leaf extract, structured silver water and elderberry in liquid form. This provides a potent anti-microbial supplement for acute immune defense support. 

Don't forget to watch your diet, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. All of these factors have a big influence on immune health as well. With these natural approaches we can provide well-rounded support for our immune systems throughout cold and flu season. 

Wholesome Rx

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