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CORNERSTONES OF IMMUNE HEALTH

Updated: Jan 14


We can improve our overall health and well-being by incorporating daily practices such as sleep, relaxation, a healthy diet, and exposure to the sun. This flu season, these cornerstones to supporting a healthy immune system are more critical today than ever before. Here is a list of the Four Pillars of Immunity Health:


1. Sleep


We should strive for a continuous 6-8 hours to allow our body to reset and strengthen. Resting allows our bodies to go through a regenerative process by removing damaged cells. Many studies link inadequate sleep to not allowing this crucial process to occur, which is known as autophagy.



2. Relaxation


There is no doubt that life can become very busy, but when we allow some time to de-stress, we are able to keep going. Making time for self-care and mental health is always a wise decision. We know that studies have shown that continuous stress has been linked to chronic diseases such as high cholesterol and diabetes, but also to a poorly functioning immune system. Relaxation may look like a few minutes of deep breathing, time at the spa, or speaking with a licensed mental health therapist. It can also be turning off the television and doing what we like to do such as our favorite hobby. Whatever works for your lifestyle, let's start making a commitment to find more time to balance our stress today.


3. Healthy Diet


Studies have shown that the optimal diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains (organic is best). For a moment, let's think about how each cellular component of our body performs its function. When we feed our cells nutrients that are free of toxins, they can work at their optimum level, thereby keeping us healthy. Food that provides this type of nutrition is more likely to be fruits or vegetables, rather than processed foods, as processed foods lack the type of nutrition that is needed by those cells.


4. Sunshine


Get some Vitamin D and improve your mood by spending some time in the sun. Below you'll find more information on the various benefits of optimal vitamin D levels.


If we are going through difficulties, is it still possible to comply with the four cornerstones of health on a regular basis? As we work toward improving these four areas of our health, are there other strategies that we can use to help us keep our health on track? Supplements may be the answer. Nutritional supplements can provide an effective method of improving all four aspects of our health.





NUTRIENTS THROUGH SUPPLEMENTS


When diet and sunlight alone are insufficient to obtain optimal levels, supplements may be very beneficial. These are our most recommended immune-supporting supplements:


1. Vitamin C


Foods like citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, and peppers contain this powerful antioxidant. Studies have found that this nutrient has a number of functions in the immune system, such as promoting tissue repair and reducing the duration of colds when at optimal levels prior to getting sick.


2. Vitamin D


We commonly refer to it as the "sunshine vitamin" since it is absorbed from sunlight and converted into a form that our bodies are able to utilize. The most notable property of vitamin D is its ability to strengthen bone tissue. This study shows that when vitamin D levels are optimal in the body, it can help strengthen the immune system, reduce cancer cell growth and control infections and inflammation. Knowing our vitamin D status is key, so let’s get those levels checked.


3. Zinc


Beef, chicken, pumpkin seeds, beans, and cheese are all rich in zinc, an essential mineral for our bodies. National Institution of Health (NIH) studies have shown zinc is essential for a properly functioning immune system as well as its role in wound repair, DNA synthesis, and sense of taste and smell.


4. Quercetin


Studies have shown that this potent antioxidant has anti-carcinogenic (i.e., anti-cancer properties), anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.


5. Melatonin


When we think of Melatonin, we generally think of a good night's sleep. This is true, as our pineal gland releases Melatonin when exposed to darkness. We discussed earlier how a good night's sleep improves our immunity. Additionally, melatonin helps the body fall asleep and stay asleep at optimal levels.


However, Melatonin's role goes way beyond getting to sleep. Studies have shown that melatonin contributes to the regulation of the immune system across multiple organs and also has anti-inflammatory properties.


6. Elderberry


Elderberry has been shown in limited studies to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the severity of influenza.