Give It A Boost: Your Immune System Will Thank You!
May2020 Issue - Pink Prescriptions
Give It A Boost: Your Immune System Will Thank You!
Your health is your greatest wealth. No doubt, no one wants to be sick, and people with great
wealth have never been able to pay their way out of death. Great health is the foundation of our quality of life; a strong immune system is the foundation of great health. It is the your frontline defense against illness, so the stronger it is, the stronger you are. Let’s find out more on how to boost your immune system to Herculean strength.
Can herbs and spices help boost my immune system?
by Kerri Dodson, MCHC, CNT, NuBodia
There has been much talk about having a healthy immune system lately, which has been a catalyst to find natural ways to boost the immune system and be healthier overall. A robust immune system can reduce the chance of getting sick, as well as the duration of an illness. The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against foreign microorganisms. (Please note, the immune boosting recommendations in this article are for an overall healthy immune system and not specifically directed towards the Covid-19 pandemic. They are more of a guide for cold and flu season.)
As a nutrition therapist, I first and foremost recommend eating a whole food, well-rounded diet which eliminates processed foods and sugar. This includes fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and lean meats.However, there are herbs and spices that may be beneficial in boosting the immune system, too.
Astragalus is a herb that contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been widely used in Chinese medicine. Studies suggest Astragalus can boost resistance to infection and assist in regulating the body’s immune response.
Elderberry, also known as Sambucus, is known to have antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it a powerhouse in knocking out and shortening the life span of colds and flu, along with boosting immunity. Elderberry can be found in a syrup, which makes is easy for children to take. (Please note Elderberry syrup is NOT recommended if you have tested positive for Covid-19.)
Echinacea is another wonderful herb and works by stimulating the immune system to produce more natural “kill” cells. A 2005 meta-analysis concluded that Echinacea could benefit people who have a low immune system and reduce the risk of a cold by 25-percent.
Honorable mentions go to several immune boosting products that are not herbs: Turmeric, which helps decrease inflammation and kill cancer cells within the body. Probiotics, which help keep your gut microbiome healthy. This is important since 70-percent of our immune system is found in our gut. Lastly, Zinc, which stops the replication of viruses and shortens the time one suffers with colds and flu.
So eat right, wash your hands and supplement your immune system to stay healthy.
Kerri Dodson is a Certified Nutrition Therapist and Master Certified Health and Wellness Coach for NuBodia, LLC. Kerri specializes in nutritional counseling and nutritional protocols to help her clients overcome chronic diseases, such as high cholesterol, high A1c, Type II Diabetes and all autoimmune diseases. Call today: 843-816-3733.
Can vitamins and supplements help boost the immune system?
by David Burke, RPh, Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy
Many supplements on the market may help improve immune health. Zinc, elderberry, and vitamins C and D are just some of the substances that have been researched for their immune-enhancing potential.
Although these supplements may offer a small benefit for immune health, they should not and cannot be used as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle.
Maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, engaging in regular exercise and not smoking are some of the most important ways to help keep your immune system healthy and reduce your chances of infection and disease.
If you want to try a supplement, speak with your pharmacist first, as some supplements may interact with certain medications, or are inappropriate for some people.
Vitamin D, is a fat soluble nutrient essential to the health and functioning of your immune system. Vitamin D enhances the fighting effects of your white blood cells.
Zinc is needed for immune cell development and communication and plays an important role in inflammatory response.
Vitamin C supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It is also necessary for cleaning up unnecessary cells, which helps keep your immune system healthy.
David Burke, RPh is a registered pharmacist and partner of Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy, Chairman of the HH Hospital Board of Governors and a member of the Cardinal Health National Advisory Board. Burke’s Pharmacy prides itself on being large enough to serve you and small enough to know you. Located at 1101 Main Street, HiHI; 843-681-2622.
by Christopher Madison, M.D., Hilton Head Regional Healthcare
To help keep your immune system healthy all year long, get adequate sleep and keep your weight under control by focusing on a balanced eating plan. These lifestyle behaviors can help you and your family stay healthy.
The Importance of Sleep
If you have a sleep disorder, you are not alone. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders annually and another 20 million experience occasional sleep problems. You can take steps to get a better night’s rest and improve your sleep.
• Go to bed only if you are sleepy.
• Get out of bed if you cannot fall asleep in about 20 minutes.
• Have a pre-sleep ritual that can help you relax.
• Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time every day.
• Avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine and heavy,
spicy and sugary foods before bedtime.
• Exercise on a regular basis (but not right before going to bed).
• Make your sleeping area quiet, dark and a little cool.
• Try not to take sleeping pills, or if you do, use them with caution.
• Avoid daytime naps if possible.
• Have a small healthy snack before bed so you
do not go to bed hungry.
The following nutrients play a role in boosting the immune system and can be found in a variety of foods:
• Beta Carotene is found in plant foods, such as sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, mango, broccoli and tomatoes.
• Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, berries, melons, tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli.
• Vitamin D is found in fatty fish and eggs. Milk and 100% juices, which are fortified with vitamin D, are also sources of this important nutrient.
• Zinc tends to be better absorbed from animal sources such as beef and seafood, but also is in vegetarian sources such as wheat germ, beans, nuts and tofu.
• Probiotics are “good” bacteria that promote health. They can be found in cultured dairy products such as yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi.
• Protein comes from both animal and plant-based sources, such as milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils.
Dr. Christopher Madison is a board certified Family Medicine Physician with over 25 years of delivering quality healthcare to his patients. In 2014, he was voted Best Primary Care Physician in Cleveland County, NC. Now, he and his wife call the Hilton Head community their home. Dr. Madison provides a full-range of medical services to fit your family’s needs. He is accepting new patients and same day appointments. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 843-705-8888
Exercise and the Immune System
by Kim Yawn, M.S., Beaufort Memorial LifeFit Wellness Services
With the current public health crisis, we are all looking for products to help boost our immune systems and ward off Covid-19. The stores are running out of vitamin C, zinc, black elderberry and other immune boosting vitamins. But what about exercise? Can it help boost our body’s natural defense?
The answer is YES, exercise is great medicine! Here’s how it helps:
• Improved Sleep. Sleep is when the body recovers. Poor sleep habits can weaken the immune system’s ability to fight against an infection or illness. Regular exercise helps to increase the time spent in deep sleep, which is the most restorative sleep phase.
• Decrease Stress. Exercise slows the release of some stress hormones and releases mood boosting hormones. Slowing the stress hormone release may be helpful in preventing illness by reducing the stress your body feels, which can weaken your immune system.
• Changes in white blood cells. The body’s immune system relies on white blood cells to help fight infection. Exercise helps to circulate white blood cells more rapidly. Thus, they may detect illness earlier, allowing them to start fighting infection sooner. Exercise also causes a brief rise in body temperature, which may help prevent bacteria from growing and aid in fighting an infection (much like a fever).
• Helps “clean” the respiratory tract. Exercise may help clean the bacteria out of the lungs and airways by increasing the breathing rate and circulation, reducing your risk of getting sick.
Now we know how exercise helps boost immunity, but like most things in life, moderation is key. More exercise/high intensity exercise doesn’t provide more benefits, in some cases, it can over stress the body and weaken the immune system. A good workout plan should include three to five days per week of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise and two to three days of strength training. Don’t forget to incorporate yoga or mind/body exercise work to improve flexibility and aid in stress relief.
Kim Yawn, M.S., is Director of LifeFit Wellness Services at Beaufort Memorial, where she oversees the wellness center, cardiac & pulmonary rehab and community health. She holds a Master of Science in exercise physiology.
Is alcohol bad for the immune system?
by Dr. Robyn Odzark - Beaufort Memorial Bluffton Primary Care
With the ever increasing popularity of the “quarantini” drink in the face of the coronavirus, many are unaware of the potential negative implications increased alcohol consumption can have in regards to potentially weakening the immune system. Since the body does not store alcohol at all (unlike digested fats or sugars), its immediate response is to digest and process it. When the body has to do this in excess, it reduces the body’s resources to fight off infections and can result in getting sick easier.
I’m not saying you can’t enjoy the occasional cocktail or beer. However, studies have shown a link between a weakened immune system and even a “moderate” alcohol intake, (which is defined as more than an average of 14 drinks per week). So go ahead and enjoy that drink, just keep things in moderation.
Dr. Robyn Odzark is a board-certified family medicine specialist with Beaufort Memorial Bluffton Primary Care in Westbury Park.