Vitamin C, Echinacea, probiotics, zinc…it can be quite daunting to decide which vitamins, minerals and herbs to take during the cold and flu season. Even though I believe there is a time and place for supplementing with high quality vitamins and herbs, I think the foundation of health revolves around lifestyle choices.

1. Sleep
Most of us can’t argue that we feel much healthier when we get adequate sleep. For immune health it’s important to make sure you’re consistent with your sleep schedule and you don’t skimp on hours during the work week. Also remember that sleep quality is just as important as quantity. Here are a few sleep hygiene tips to promote a better night’s sleep:

  • Avoid stimulants before bed
  • Turn the electronics off and keep your cell phone away from the bed
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime
  • Get adequate exposure to natural light throughout the day
  • Only use your bed for sleep

2. Food
Hippocrates said “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Having a consistent, well-balanced, whole foods diet is key. For most of my patients I recommend a predominantly plant based diet that incorporates organic, grass-fed, free range meats, healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil), wild caught fish, legumes and plenty of herbs and spices. I recommend restricting the intake of processed sugars and grains since these can negatively impact immune functioning.

3. Physical medicine
Chiropractic adjustments play a direct and impactful role on the well-being and regulation of the autonomic nervous system. The intricacies of this system communicate with hormone and immune tissues and play a major role in the modulation and balance of chemical responses. Various studies have shown increases in immune supporting white blood cells following chiropractic adjustments. White blood cells are critical for the functioning and regulation of the immune system. So the research backs the clinical findings chiropractors have witnessed for years!*Stay tuned for future blog posts that dive into this research and help explain why the benefits of chiropractic care go well beyond the musculoskeletal system* 

4. Hydrotherapy
Air, water, and food are the essentials to sustain life. We mainly think of water as a liquid we “need” to drink in order to prevent dehydration. Water, however, can be used in therapeutic ways to support a healthy immune system. Hydrotherapy sounds technical but it can be easily done in your own shower on a daily basis. Contrast hydrotherapy promotes lymphatic drainage and circulation, which are beneficial for our immune systems. Try at Home – Contrast Shower

  • At the end of your shower switch the water temperature to cold and stand underwater for 30 seconds… I promise this gets easier with time!
  • After 30 seconds, turn the temperature back to hot. Stand under the hot water for 3 minutes.
  • Cycle between hot and cold 3 times.
  • Make sure you end your shower on the cold cycle. When you end your shower you’ll feel invigorated and energized.

5. Stress Reduction
I don’t need to tell you that we live in a stressful world. It’s easy to accept stress as a normal part of our lives but it’s important to practice stress reduction techniques regularly. Chronic stress has been shown to be very detrimental to our immune systems. Find what helps you relax and do it often. I’d recommend meditation, yoga, adult coloring books, or reading.

6. Exercise
There’s a reason we’re always being told to be more active and exercise regularly. Regular exercise has a LONG list of benefits, with improved immune functioning being one of them.