October is the time of year that cold and flu season really starts to kick off in the United States, so what better time to talk about immunity than now! There are a few ways to help keep your immune system performing well and hopefully spare you from the worst that cold and flu season has to offer. Here are my favorite tips and tricks to help keep you feeling healthy*:
At the first signs of illness, this is my personal go to**. This treatment involves sleeping in cold socks a few times a week. The warming socks increase circulation, boost the immune system, and have a sedating effect, so you can sleep better.
Elderberries are amazing little berries that pack a mean punch. They are anti-viral and anti-oxidant. They have been shown in studies to shorten the duration of colds/flus and boost the immune system. They come in all different forms from lozenges to syrups, to gummies. You can even make your own syrup or gummies to personalize with other immune boosting herbs!
Reishi, Maiitake, Turkey tail, and Cordyceps mushrooms all have extensive research on their immune boosting, anti inflammatory, and even (in some cases) anti-tumor effects. All of these mushrooms share a common constituent called Beta glucans, which provide the power behind these immune supportive herbs.
While all of the above have been shown in studies to help boost the immune system, decrease duration of symptoms, and overall kick some bacteria and virus butt; the best way to stay well is to actively try to prevent getting sick. This involves washing your hands, getting plenty of rest, avoiding sugar, exercise, and even potentially fasting for short periods of time! Also, for 2020, I would consider getting your flu shot as well. This year is not a year to take chances with respiratory illnesses. The CDC recommends getting yours by late October and I prefer the preservative free version.
Any way you slice it, eating well, resting up, and exercise can help you to stay well through the winter months. The list above is not at all comprehensive and there are so many other things you can do to try to stay well. As always, feel free to reach out and let me know if you have questions or want more tailored advice!
Dr. Michaela Falkner, ND
Hill Park Integrative Medical Center