It's time. Immune system time. Winter is coming and with it colds and flu. Yes, flu. The plain old regular kind, not just the one that wears a crown and has taken the world by storm. If you haven't already taken measures, then start now. It can take six to eight weeks to top up the tanks.
Why bother? I'm fine. I never get sick. In fact I haven't been sick in years. In the herbal world the first few phrases are a red flags. It can mean that there is an underlying condition that is taking all the attention your immune system has to offer. It's always good to get a herbal/naturopath/functional doctor check up. Just in case.
Please enjoy the highlights provided. Feel free to get in touch should you have any questions.
ZINC: A simple starting point is to take a zinc taste test. Zinc in imperative in immune system function. It is used by most enzymes in the body. It is used for hormone manufacture, sperm manufacture, digestion, and sensory functions.What is a zinc taste test? It's pretty easy. The Nerd does it at markets. You can go to Health 2000 and they will do it. You are given a wee drink of purified water with zinc in it. You hold the liquid in your mouth for a few seconds. What you taste is an indication of your zinc levels. If they are low, you'll be given some advice on supplementation.
SELENIUM: As you may already know, any plant grown in New Zealand will be devoid of selenium. Our soil here contains none of this vital mineral. Selenium is important in immune function. The enzyme glutathione peroxidase depends on selenium to function and this enzyme is critical in keeping your immune system working well. Two Brazil nuts per day will provide you with enough selenium to keep your immune system functioning optimally. Adolescents need one Brazil nut per day. Young children, ½ a nut per day.
VITAMIN C: And, as always, vitamin C. Ever wondered how it helps the immune system? Well, your white blood cells, the ones that fight infection, require vitamin C to function. The vitamin C binds to the cell, the cell is very pleased. It likes a lot of vitamin C. It's like having a lot of health points in a video game. They are ready for battle. Bring on the infection, no problemo. Excellent. That's what we want. There is one problemo though, sugar. That's the next paragraph.
SUGAR: The easiest and least expensive way to boost your immune system is to eliminate all refined sugars. White sugar, brown sugar, coffee sugar, coconut sugar, honey, white bread, potatoes, and rice. The last three are all digested too quickly down to glucose. It’s sad, I understand. I even see your hands gesturing. Why? Why? Why sugar? Well, read on to find out more.
As mentioned before, immune cells require a high level of vitamin C inside of them to ensure they are ready to defend your body from illness and inflammation. The chemical structures of vitamin C and sugar (glucose) are very similar. Your white blood cells will preferentially absorb the glucose over the vitamin C. The white blood cells then have less vitamin C in them causing the inactivation of your immune system. Your immune system becomes impaired. It's kind of like getting an answer from EQC after the earthquakes. It's really slow! Research has shown that your immune system is suppressed one to two hours after ingesting 50 grams of sugar and it remains suppressed for up to five hours after that. Eating sugar ensures you have no immunity to invading bacteria or viruses for up to seven hours!
You will have little protection should a virus or bacteria decide to make you its home.
Because refined sugars lack minerals and vitamins, they must utilise your body’s micronutrient supply to metabolise them. Consuming refined sugars acts like a sponge, soaking up minerals and vitamins from your body, depriving your body of essential nutrients, inactivating your immune system, and decrease your body’s healing capacity. To keep your immune system functioning optimally, eliminate sugar.Immune boosting foods and herbs can help get you ready for winter time illness battles.
GARLIC: It's great for the immune system. Maybe it's because it will keep everyone away but it could be the alliin which becomes the viral fighting, anti-microbial superhero allicin. It's simple, easy, and a kitchen staple. Onions, ginger, & turmeric are great additions to immune health.
BERRIES: And dark green leafy vegetables, and brightly coloured vegetables contain flavonoids, vitamin C, and betacarotenes which will help your immune system. Foods such as carrots, capsicum, kale, silver beet, blueberries, black berries (the endless list of berries—frozen is good, too), will help guard against invading microbes. Elderberries are a scientifically proven anti-viral and anti-microbial.
OMEGA 3: Hoki, sardines, mackerel, & salmon contain beneficial omega 3’s to give your immune system a boost. So do avocados, pumpkin seeds, walnuts high quality, cold pressed oils such as extra virgin olive oil, and your fish oil supplement.
Fish oils help promote a healthy immune response. The omega 3 oils in fish oil capsules help to promote healing and decrease inflammation. With stress, processed foods, alcohol intake, & sugar intake our immune system will tend towards an inflammatory response. This means we get colds, headaches, aching joints, and get very tired. Taking fish oils can help decrease these types of responses to illness.
Taking fish oil capsules that have gone rancid has deleterious effects. The fish oil becomes a toxin. To test your fish oil capsules, put one in the freezer for 3 hours. Cut it open. If it is hard and solid, your fish oil is rancid, or oxidised. The capsule may be frozen and that is okay, but if the oil is frozen throw them out. The oil in the capsule should be liquid. If it is liquid, your fish oil is okay.
HERBS: Good old Echinacea. It's a well known immune boosting herb. So well known in fact, that you must be very careful when purchasing it. Why? Well, it is easily bulked up by using the entire plant when only the root is the medicinal part. It saves the company heaps of money but it dilutes the effectiveness of the herb. So if your supplement ingredient says: Echinacea herb know that the company is interested in your money only. You want the ingredient to be Echinacea root and root only. Then you're getting the best.
There are other herbs that are helpful such as Astragalus, Olive Leaf, Holy Basil, Siberian Ginseng, & Pelargonium. Consider Liquorice as it has been shown to combat the SARS virus and is effective against crown bearing viruses.
HAND WASHING: Wash your hands before eating. Wash your hands before touching your face. When you get home, wash your hands. Soap and water. And remember to wash the nail beds and the bit between your wrist and little finger. It's usually missed and what rests on your keyboard when you type? Well, mine do.
TOILET LID DOWN: Put the toilet seat lid down when flushing. Most viruses are eliminated in the faeces. Viruses can travel in the minute water spray from the toilet.
Eliminate refined sugars.
Put the lid down when flushing the toilet.
Take fish oils. Freezer test your fish oils.
Eat two Brazil nuts per day.
Take vitamin C with bioflavonoids.
Enjoy immune boosting foods.
Check your Echinacea supplement.
But most of all get started now. Winter is coming and all the fun that comes with it.
A herbal nerd of sorts.