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Nov 03, 2011

Your immune system is responsible for finding, recognizing and destroying viruses, bacteria and other external pathogens. It contains specialized cells, tissues and organs throughout the entire body including the tonsils, adenoids, thymus gland, lymph nodes, bone marrow, circulating white blood cells, spleen, appendix, and patches of lymphatic tissue in the intestinal tract.  During the cold, dark days of winter, many people find themselves especially susceptible to infection.   Engaging and strengthening the body’s natural defense network is the best way to prevent viruses and bacteria from taking hold and to beat infections quickly.  


It isn’t your exposure to a virus that determines your health. It is your body’s ability to handle the exposure that is important. A strong effective immune system is the best protection to speed your recovery from illness and to ensure that your body is able to attack and destroy foreign pathogens.


So, what can we do??


  1. Recognize that long term chronic stress decreases immune system function.  Identify your stressors, reduce what you can, and work on improving your management of what you cannot.
  2. Give the body a chance to fight off infections. The immune system is strengthened with every illness the body is able to conquer on its own.  If you’re not better within several days, that is when you contact your ND or MD.
  3. Avoid sweets – refined sugar dramatically inhibits immune function by reducing the ability of white blood cells to engulf and destroy bacteria.
  4. Listen to your body.  When you are feeling more fatigued, that can be a sign from the body that it is battling an infection.  Give your body the rest it needs, so you can heal faster.
  5. Fresh, seasonal fruit, vegetables, protein and whole grains strengthen the immune system. 
  6. Eat lots of garlic! It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and wards off vampires to boot!
  7. When you are ill, consume warm drinks and eat soup or other food that is warm, easy to digest, and nutrient dense.  Miso soup is a great option, along with homemade broths or soups like squash and pumpkin.
  8. Avoid foods which promote dampness/phlegm and thicken mucous: dairy, excess soy, bananas, and too many cold foods.
  9. Breathe! The respiratory system is full of immune cells that protect the body from inhaled allergens and toxins.
  10. If you want an alternative to the flu shot, talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about the Immune Boost, a homeopathic combination given by injection or orally to help strengthen the ability of the immune system to fight infection.


Dr. Clare Craig, ND, CD(DONA)
Naturopathic Doctor, Doula
Island Optimal Health & Performance

Island Optimal Health & Performance
#103-1808 Bowen Road
Nanaimo, BC   V9S 5W4



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