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The Best Ways to Support Your Immune System

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

Video summarized in article below. 

Dr. Jeremy: Dr. Carrie why don’t you tell us how we can help our immune system.

Dr. Carrie: Right. There are so many ways to help your immune system. Supplements are just one of them. We’re going to go through all of the other lifestyle ways you can also help your immune system, but if you’re looking for some supplements because you need that extra boost, or if you’re unable to make those other lifestyle changes, here is a list.

Supplements to Help the Immune System

Vitamin D we hear very often and definitely vitamin C. During this time, it might even be harder to find vitamin C because everyone is taking vitamin C just to help boost their immune system.

In addition, you can have zinc.

And turmeric is definitely very anti-inflammatory and could also help with those aches and pains you might be having that are in your joints.

Colostrum and beta-glucan and cordyceps are all very gentle. They help your gut, but they also help your immune system.

If you want something stronger to help fight something off, echinacea and goldenseal are usually used.

But Supplements Aren't for Everyone

Dr. Michael: Yes. The list goes on. These are natural compounds that have immune-boosting properties, but the key is really knowing how to use them, because in a person who is fatigued already or weak or inflamed—even these good compounds may cause the inflammatory reaction to get worse.

The reason is that--they have to do their job. And they are stimulatory, some of them like the zinc and even the vitamin C. They have to be turned into metabolites, and the metabolites have to leave your body in order for you to have a clear body. So, it’s almost like you cook a meal. You have to empty your trash bag before you can cook a second meal. Otherwise, your kitchen could be stinky.

So, in that respect, you have to understand if you are normal and healthy, yes, these supplements that you mentioned, Dr. Carrie, are wonderful.

However, if you are weak or you are sensitive or you have exaggerated responses or paradoxical reactions or past history of a sensitive body, then you have to be much more careful, because the good supplements can actually crash the system. We see this all the time, unfortunately.

Now, of course, there are other ways to do it. So, in addition to supplements, there are foods. Dr. Jeremy, why don’t you tell us about some food that may be helpful in this respect?

Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Dr. Jeremy: Some foods that can boost your immune system are apple cider vinegar and garlic.

Chicken or beef broth can also boost your immune system.

Ginger can as well, but it can also be quite stimulatory. So that’s something that you have to be careful about.

And then beets and then also cooking with turmeric. Not only taking it in supplements, but if you use it in cooking, that can also be helpful as well.

Then it’s also very important to stay hydrated to keep your immune system supported. The body is made out of 70 percent water. So, water really helps to flush and eliminate the toxins that are in your body. If you can, try and drink warm to hot water as tolerated. You can try infusing your water with things such as lemon, cucumber, rosemary, or orange, as those things can also support your immune system.

Get Some Sunshine

Dr. Michael: Well, next, but also the cheapest and the easiest, is the sunshine. Sunshine’s really great because it helps the body to create vitamin D, and vitamin D is fantastic for immune system support.

Researchers have shown that a low vitamin D level is associated with more frequent illness as well as autoimmune problems, so don’t forget the sunshine.

It seems very easy to do. Just 10-15 minutes a day—especially in the morning—can get you enough vitamin D. So, wear a t-shirt. Expose yourself if your weather permits it, and then get inside. It’s very simple. What else?

Sleep Can Help Your Immune System

Dr. Jeremy: Sleep also plays a massive role in your immune system and helps your body recover.

It’s really vital to keep up your sleep hours. I know it’s very easy, when we get stressed and we have a lot of things going on, to cut down on the sleep. But that’s actually very detrimental, as sleep can really help regulate the cytokines and this inflammatory production in your body.

Naps are also okay. Sometimes sleep aids are beneficial, but they can also backfire. So, it takes very gentle progress and very good guidance to know when sleep aids can help, and then when they can also make your immune system worse.

 
© Copyright 2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

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