Dr. Laura: 5 ways to strengthen your immune system

Immune system need a boost? Support it with one or a combination of these top five natural ways. A strong immune system means less colds and flu, especially through this winter and early spring season.

As a start, be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water keep indoor humidity around 45-50%. Then, visit your naturopathic doctor to find what is the best combination of these five following things you need to strengthen your immune system.

1. Probiotics

2. Adaptogens

3. Medicinal Mushrooms

4. Vitamins

5. Minerals

 

Probiotics

We know that 70% of your immune system resides in the gastrointestinal tract, so it makes perfect sense to keep a healthy balance of your microflora. Research in probiotics is very active and there may be new strains available to help you balance yours.

Adaptogens

The adrenal glands are little hat like glands that sit atop the kidneys.  When you think of cold weather, think of hats and think of adrenal support. Resilience to stress can keep illness at bay but when we are constantly under stress at work, at home and toxins build up from pesticides, environmental factors, drugs, allergens – we need help. There are a number of adaptogenic herbs like holy basil, ashwagandha, ginsengs, liquorice, schisandra, codonopsis, astragalus and rhodiola that can be custom blended to support your needs.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms can be an amazing support for the immune system. Helpful are hot water extracts of mushrooms like maitake (Grifola frondosa), reishi (Gandoderma lucidum), Cordyceps, shitake (Lentinus edodes), turkey tail (Coriolus versicolor), and sun mushroom (Agaricus blazei). It is possible to get these in different combinations and even in packets to make a “tea”.

Vitamins

Vitamin A, C, E top the list for immune support. Oranges, citrus and bell pepper provide Vitamin C.    The beta-carotene in orange and red vegetables will convert to Vitamin A in most people. Cod liver oil is a viable direct source of vitamin A.  Wheat germ oil and almonds pack a punch of vitamin E. There are formulas available that combine these vitamins with some minerals and they can often be a sure way of getting the support you need every day.

Minerals

Zinc, Selenium and Magnesium are truly critical for the immune system to function. A varied diet will often provide enough. Bone soup broths are a great, as are pumpkin seeds for the zinc, brazil nuts for the selenium and dark leafy greens for the magnesium.

 

This blog does not constitute medical advice. Natural products can interfere with existing medical conditions and prescription drugs. Be safe and get the knowledge and advice of a naturopathic doctor.

From the heart and mind of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Laura: Can Fasting Heal Auto Immune Disease?

Fasting is known to initiate cellular clean-up, reduce inflammation, heal leaky gut and reset the immune system. What better formula could we ask for when it comes to autoimmune disease?

Can Fasting Really Help AutoImmune Suffering?

After a recent talk at Goodness Me! I did on the safety of fasting, I was left with more questions on how fasting could help those suffering with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s, celiac, diabetes type I, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the interim I have played with intermittent fasting over the past couple of months and my body says “thank you!” My digestion has not been this good for years and the persistent scalp psoriasis has all but disappeared. Even when I eat tomatoes, a common trigger for me. It seems anacdotal, however fellow colleagues in the the functional medicine industry like Mark Hyman, Amy Myers, and Courtney Sperlazza all agree.

What Kind of Fasting?

There are many kinds of fasting. We fast when we exclude a single food or types of foods from our diet. So the 30-day reset with no grains, sugar or dairy is a type of fast. This is a good start. The Ketogenic diet is a type of fast too. A Keto diet for a while may be helpful because it switches the body from a carb burning engine to a fat burning engine. But here I am talking about intermittent and more extended fasts to give complete
digestive rest
. When the body is not busy digesting and sorting out where to use or store the blood sugar, it can focus on cellular clean up and repair. Of course when you do eat, nutrient dense foods are a must because you are eating less overall and will need to pack the nutrients you need into less meals. If you are sensitive to foods, like tomatoes, dairy, wheat and sugar for me, that doesn’t mean I go back to eating them all the time. If at all. My excuse was I was in beautiful Italy and learning to make a succulent Bolognese sauce.

Can Anyone Fast?

No. Fasting isn’t for everyone. Not for children or pregnant mothers, those who are malnourished or those with anorexia or bulimia – that’s just playing with fire. Fasting also has to be monitored if you are on medications or have certain medical conditions. Medical complications include gout, cardiac arrhythmia, and postural hypotension.

How Long to Fast?

There is nothing written in stone about the perfect length of fast. And if you ever feel nauseous, dizzy or unwell you should eat. This isn’t about starvation. It’s about digestive rest. It’s about resetting insulin sensitivity and the immune system. Also, we know where the food is and have access to it if we need it. So it’s not starvation.

What Foods are Allowed?

As I mentioned above there are no real rules and there are many different  types and lengths of fasts. If you are on the thinner side and can’t stand to loose some weight, then you better consider bone broth fasts, where there are some nutrients and fat going in. If you have a little loving around that waist line, you likely can feed off that for a while and have coffee, tea and of course LOTS OF WATER.

For more information on whether fasting is right for you, and how to do it, book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown ND. 519.826.7973.