Phase 1: Body Armor at Home
- Cut back on sugar. Sugary foods break down quickly into simple sugars. Your body responds to this with a spike in insulin, which suppresses your immune system. Avoid foods like sodas, fruit juices, breads, pastas, and sweets, especially when you are feeling ill.
- Eat your fruits and veggies. The nutrients in fresh fruits and veggies support the function of your immune system, so it can ward off invaders. If you feel that you are coming down with something, eat fresh oranges. Vitamin C is actually a complex of beneficial chemicals, and typical vitamin C supplements only contain one of these chemicals (ascorbic acid). Whole foods and whole food supplements are superior sources of nutrients.
- Manage your stress levels. When we are anxious or irritated, we release stress hormones to prepare for a fight-or-flight response. This suppresses the immune system, because the body cannot fight against external threats (even imaginary ones) and internal invaders at the same time.
- Exercise daily. Even if it is just 10 minutes of jumping jacks, push-ups, and squats, get your heart rate up and break a sweat! Not only will this relieve stress, it improves your circulation. It also gives you a reason to get outside.
- Get some sun every day. Sunshine helps to build vitamin D in our bodies. Many of us believe sun exposure is not healthy, but humans evolved with daily sun exposure for thousands of years. Get 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure each day in the summer. In Minnesota, we need 20 minutes or more in the winter months.
Phase 2: Body Armor from Health Care Professionals
- Have your vitamin D levels tested. The most recent research indicates that the level of 25(OH)-D in your blood should be 40-80 ng/mL. The U.S. RDA for vitamin D is intended to prevent rickets, not to strengthen the immune system. For this reason, we may need to make (through sunshine) or ingest up to 2000 mg/day of vitamin D3.
- Supplement with vitamin D3. In Minnesota, most of us will need to take a high-quality vitamin D supplement to maintain protective levels of vitamin D in our blood. This should contain vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), not vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) or unspecified vitamin D.
- Take probiotics. Did you know that 80% of your immune system is in your intestinal tract? It is your primary line of defense against the outside world. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help us break down and absorb our food. They also keep harmful pathogens from entering our bodies. A 2009 clinical study shows that children taking probiotics twice a day have a 28-73% percent lower risk of developing cold and flu symptoms (Pediatrics, 124(2): e172-e179).
- Get chiropractic care. Our current understanding of the body is that the immune system and nervous system are intimately linked. They developed from the same embryonic cells. They respond to the same hormones and neurotransmitters. Chiropractic care reduces distortions within the nervous system so the body and brain can communicate more effectively. This makes the body more resistant to stress and illness because it is operating efficiently. Families who use chiropractic care very often report strengthened immune systems, for both parents and children.
Create a health care team that can help you put on your body armor!