A recent viral article claiming a man had “healed 5,000 people from cancer” with cannabis oil has been shared over 58,000 times on Facebook.
You’ve already seen numerous blogs and claims on “the best ways to boost your immune system during the cold and flu season” shared all over your newsfeed. However, most of it is exaggerated or simply not true. Additionally, it’s likely a waste of money and could even be dangerous to your health.
This season especially, it’s critical to only take advice from certified healthcare professionals. Here’s what dietitians and naturopaths want you to know about immunity.
What dietitians want you to know
Nutrition is one important tool in your larger immune support toolkit.
Alex Lewis, RD, LDN says, “It’s important to understand that nutrients cannot treat the common cold or single-handedly prevent the flu. They can aid in promoting relaxation and restful sleep, helping us cope with environmental and physical stressors, and strengthing our immune system by fighting off free radicals.
Studies show there are big benefits of enjoying a diet higher intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and other whole foods to support the immune system.1-3
Rachel Caine MS, RD, LDN says “My husband and I always make an effort to incorporate plenty of vitamins A, C, D, and E into our family’s dinner. The easiest way for us to do so is to have an orange and green element on the plate. This might be spinach, broccoli, squash, carrots, etc. I also try to put either fatty fish or milk for vitamin D on the dinner table. Copper, selenium, and zinc are also very important for immune health so we enjoy 100% whole grain bread and incorporate peanuts and brazil nuts as snacks.”
Research continues to show the benefits of botanical supplements due to their anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic effects.4-6
Juliana Dewsnap RD, LDN, CPT says: “On top of eating a nutrient-dense diet, I incorporate specialty supplements into my day-to-day routine, especially during the colder seasons. I intermix elderberry for the antioxidants, turmeric to help fight inflammation, and L-theanine to help my body cope with stress and allow me to relax.”
What naturopaths want you to know
Dr. Laura Belus, Naturopathic Doctor of Holistix Naturopathic Clinic and of @drlaurabelus says, “Two of the most important preventative nutrients are vitamin D and vitamin C for improving our bodies’ ability to fight viruses like the common cold and flu. Making sure you are taking the daily recommended dose set out by your healthcare provider before you get sick is critical to limiting the intensity and length of your symptoms.”
Dr. Sara Kela @dr.sarakela says: “Sleep will help increase melatonin, which is a strong antioxidant. Stress management is so important too. Do deep belly breathing or a 5-minute meditation a day.”
Betty Runkle, the CoAuthor of Healing Can Be Easy, a Naturopathic Consultant, a Doctor in Traditional Naturopathy, and a Health Professional Parter with Baze says, “The best way to support the immune system is to follow the five basic pillars; making sure to include a wide array of colors and shapes of whole foods, botanicals, herbs, and immune potentiating mushrooms. These pillars include Hydration, Circulation, Nutrition, Restoration, and Relaxation. Nutrition includes those amazing, beneficial Adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that promote the immune system to ramp up its efforts in clearing out cellular invaders and promoting the body’s ability to survive and heal itself. The goal in any immune-supporting program is to keep the body hydrated, boost the vitamin and mineral stores and keep the lymphatic and elimination channels open and flowing by including regular stretching and movement.”
To compile all the expertise of these RDs and NDs, there are 4 main takeaways.
- Make your plate colorful, especially including orange and green colored fruits and vegetables.
- Ensure you obtain adequate vitamin D and vitamin C. Vitamin D from either sunlight, fatty fish, milk, fortified products, or a daily supplement. Vitamin C from things like guavas, bell peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, oranges, papayas, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, and snow peas or a daily supplement if needed.
- Take advantage of the powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and adaptogenic effects found in specialty botanical supplements.
- Work on managing stress and focusing on sleep.
Now that you have the facts in front of you on how to best strengthen your immunity, go enjoy this winter season. If you have any questions or concerns on which immunity hacks would work best in your individual life, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curious where your nutrient levels stand and how that relates to your immunity? Check out the Baze Starter Kit, which gives you an in-depth look at your nutrient levels and allows you to talk directly with a Baze dietitian about your results.
Trace Minerals, Immune Function, and Viral Evolution – Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field – NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230971/
Barak, V., Halperin, T., & Kalickman, I. (2001). The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. European Cytokine Network, 12(2), 290–296.
Chu, D. C., Okubo, T., Nagato, Y., & Yokogoshi, H. (1999). L-theanine – A unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 10(6–7), 199–204. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0924-2244(99)00044-8
Hewlings, S., & Kalman, D. (2017). Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Foods, 6(10), 92. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods6100092
Hughes, D. A. (1999). Effects of dietary antioxidants on the immune function of middle-aged adults. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 58(1), 79–84. https://doi.org/10.1079/pns19990012
Somerville, V. S., Braakhuis, A. J., & Hopkins, W. G. (2016). Effect of Flavonoids on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections and Immune Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Advances in Nutrition, 7(3), 488–497. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.115.010538