It Happened. I’m Sick. Now What?
JANUARY 16, 2017 by OLIVIA NEELY, RDN, LD
If you’re anything like me you may sometimes think you are somehow immune to cold and flu season. You know the whole train of thought that goes something like this – I eat well, I take my supplements, I exercise… I won’t catch anything. Serves me right. I caught a cold. As the @letsgetrealrd I am going to get real with you guys and share my favorite immune boosting tips:
Nutri-Dyn Dynamic Fruit and Greens: this product packs loads of superfood ingredients into a delicious easy-to-mix powder. It contains super fruits, veggies, antioxidants and probiotics to boost the whole family’s immune systems. Use this daily as an immune booster or just when you’re feeling under the weather. It comes in all sorts of flavors but my favorite is the Espresso flavor – I add it to my coffee for flavor and added nutrition.
Perque Potent C Guard: I love this vitamin C because it is “buffered ascorbate powder” which is the safest on our bodies (read: it is not too acidic). Also, you can put this into some water and add some stevia and wa-la! You have real-food lemonade! When you’re sick you can take up to 6000-10,000mg per day.
K2-D3: vitamins K and D are both fat soluble vitamins and are critical for good immunity. The best part about having them together is they work synergistically to help maximize absorption. Vitamin D supplementation can be tricky to generalize as needs will vary depending on age, geographical location, seasonally, etc. In general, I recommend a 10,000 IU supplement every other day to keep your level stable or to slightly increase it – especially this time of year.
Zinc: Do you get sick often? You may be deficient in zinc. Zinc is arguably one of the most important minerals for immunity. It’s mostly found in animal foods (which I don’t recommend when you’re sick – see why below) so load up on pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, lentils and supplement with at least 30mg daily until you’re feeling better.
Probiotics, Probiotics and MORE Probiotics: A healthy and supported gut is essential for a strong immune system that is ready to fight when an infection comes your way. Keep your gut populated with good bacteria so that it’s easy to defeat the bad bacteria when it enters your GI tract. I generally recommend taking 1-3 probiotic capsules daily to keep your gut flora balanced, and this time of year, it’s not a bad idea to increase your daily dose by one or two, and by much more if you’re on an antibiotic or are sick with something else. Meet with me for individualized recommendations!
Avoid animal products as they increase mucus production – with the exception of ghee and bone broth. In fact load up on bone broth! Read the health promoting properties of bone broth on the blog here. It’s best to load up on hot soups and vegetables when you’re fighting off illness.
Use spices like ginger or red pepper flakes, parsley, dill, coriander, onions, garlic and hot sauce. Add daikon radish, ginger root and garlic to salads, or veggies. These foods are anti-microbial and blood cleaners – they will give you immune system a boost!
Don’t get caught up on sugar. Sugars, grains and other starchy foods negatively affect your immunity because they suppress your immune system for several hours after ingesting them. And, if you’re sick or don’t want to get sick, it’s important to give your body nutrients, not sugar!
Drink lots of fluids. And no, this does not include your typical orange juice which is basically pure sugar and will only make you feel worse. Water, water, water – warm or cool. Think hot fluids like hot lemonade (use the Perque recipe above), ginger tea and herbal teas. Staying hydrated ensures that white blood cells are able to travel freely throughout your body and stop any bacterial or viral intruders in their tracks. Kombucha packs several punches when it comes to boosting your immune system. It’s hydrating, full of probiotics, and packed with antioxidants. While it may take some getting used to, this is a great beverage to have in your regular rotation to keep your immune system strong.
Get More Sleep. Sleep is essential for keeping immune function up to prevent you from getting sick, and even more important for a speedy recovery if you’re already are sick. If you need help in this department, it might be a good idea to see why via a functional medicine approach – get more information here.
Less Stress. Stress sabotages our immune function. It interferes with our gut health by decreasing the amount of good bacteria that reside there, and it weakens our gut lining. Without strong gut permeability, it’s easy for toxins and pathogens to enter our bodies. When our immune function is impaired, we are more susceptible to sickness and colds. Sickness leads to even more stress and inflammation in our bodies. Another vicious and not fun cycle. This even means pulling back from good stresses in your life too. For example, exercise – yes it is a good stress but a stress nonetheless.
Listen to your body and see what it is you need. Maybe you aren’t feeling completely awful and a little workout would give you a needed pick-me-up. As for myself, after I am done with my workday I will be going home to rest up in the comforts of my own apartment.
Get Well. Stay Well. –@letsgetrealrd