By Dr. Jenna Dye,
Due to our ever-changing health situation, now more than ever, we must protect and enhance our immune system. Our immune system can be hindered by preexisting illnesses, inflammation, stress, diet and nutrient deficiencies. There are simple ways to enhance your immunity to keep you and your family healthy during the entire year.
Sleep is extremely important for the immune system and it is often sacrificed when we are busy with everyday life. I encourage at least eight hours or more of sleep per night. I also suggest eliminating electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. If you need to be on electronic devices, it is a good idea to invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses to help block the stimulatory effects the light has on your brain. Find a healthy sleep routine for you and your family to ensure restful sleep.
Food can be a major source of inflammation or anti-inflammation depending on what you eat. I recommend fueling your body with nutrient dense food such as colorful fruits and vegetables. These colorful foods are high in antioxidants to help the strengthen immunity and provide proper nutritional support. Balanced meals, plenty of water and minimal processed foods are all excellent ways to enhance the immune system. Sugar can directly inhibit immunity and increase inflammation, so I always recommend low sugar diets, especially when we are trying to protect the immune system.
Exercise can directly increase immunity by increasing circulation and stimulating immune cells. Regular, daily activity when you are not sick is essential for the immune system. Exercise can also help us relieve stress. Stress has a negative impact on the immune system and directly decreases our immune response. Although it can difficult to eliminate stressful events in our life, it is important to learn how to properly manage the stress to keep us healthy.
Nutrient deficiencies are common and can play a big role on how our immune system responds to illnesses. Common deficiencies I typically see are Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Zinc and Vitamin C. It is important to discuss this with your physician or have certain nutrient levels checked. A healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables can help support nutrient deficiencies along with appropriate supplementation.
Gastrointestinal System Support
Our digestive system is directly correlated with our immune system. Constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating can all decrease overall immunity. Finding the underlying causes of these symptoms is the first step to decreasing inflammation and supporting the immune system. A high-quality probiotic supplement can be helpful to restore and balance beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal system once the underlying cause of any disruption is identified and supported. Food sensitivities and/or food allergies can also increase inflammation in the gut and cause decreased immunity and should be avoided.
See your Naturopathic Physician
See your naturopathic physician for more individualized support. Underlying health conditions can also affect your immune system. A naturopathic physician can offer a more personalized approach for your specific health care needs.
Dr. Jenna Dye is a licensed naturopathic physician. Her role is to support the body’s foundation to restore and maintain optimal health. Together with her patients, this is achieved by identifying and removing barriers that may be impacting health while creating a healing environment. For more information, visit drjennadye.com.