In early fall, the combination of holidays endings, weather changing and school restarting often foreshadows lower immune function, triggering a host of infections. From a naturopathic perspective, there are several ways to boost your immunity during this time of transition, which in turn will allow you to stay as healthy as possible.
We all know that regular exercise contributes to year-long health. Lengthy, sun-filled summer days make it easy for people to establish outdoor exercise routines. However, with schedules growing fuller, stress levels rising and weather turning colder in fall, we tend to abandon our exercise habits. Sticking to a regular aerobic exercise routine is beneficial and will work to strengthen our immune systems.
Maintain Optimal Nutrition
Adopting healthy eating habits will provide your body with maximum nutrition and also have a positive impact on immune function. During times of elevated stress, blood sugar levels may fluctuate, amplifying your cravings for refined carbohydrates and sugars. Support your body during stressful times by avoiding these foods, and increase your intake of healthy protein and fat sources from wild fish, organic meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You can also keep your immune system running efficiently by identifying food intolerances such as gluten and dairy, which may contribute to more frequent infections.
Consider Vitamin D Testing and Supplementation
Vitamin D has been well researched for its immune-balancing effect. Unfortunately, food sources are not of sufficient concentration to optimize levels of vitamin D in your body. Significantly increasing your vitamin D stores can be done in one of two ways: exposing your unprotected skin to ultraviolet-B sunlight and taking vitamin D supplements. The best time to measure vitamin D levels is in the fall when they are near their peak. Knowing blood vitamin D levels can help determine an appropriate dosage of a supplement to take during the fall and winter when sunlight is not readily available.
Nourish the Adrenal Glands
In addition to regulating our stress response, the adrenal hormone cortisol can have a major impact on our immune function and susceptibility to infections. Elevated work stress, shorter days and increased exposure to infectious organisms can take its toll on the body’s adrenal function. Supplying your body with adrenal-balancing herbs such as licorice, ashwaganda and rhodiola can protect your body against infections. During hectic and stressful times, it’s also recommended that you take vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and B5 (pantothenic acid) supplements. Both are required to help adrenal glands produce stress-response hormones. Saliva cortisol testing is available from many naturopathic doctors and can determine your exact adrenal status and treatment requirements.
Holick, Michael MD PhD The UV Advantage. Ibooks, New York, 2003.
Wilson, James ND. Adrenal Fatigue, Smart Publications, Petaluma, CA, 2003.
Article was provided and reprinted by permission of Dr. Arjuna Veeravagu. Dr. Veeravagu is a naturopathic physician, registered acupuncturist and founder of Sage Clinic in Vancouver (Yaletown), BC. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Veeravagu, please email info[at]sageclinic[dot]com or call (604)697-0397