Last week, I reminded you to double down on vitamin D supplementation over the winter—and during this winter, in particular. That’s because, among many other health benefits, this nutrient is especially protective against COVID-19.
But as we head into another (albeit atypical) holiday season, I figured I would revisit my overall immune-boosting plan in greater detail.
After all, even with COVID-19 hogging headlines, cold and flu season is upon us, too. And I don’t want you to be one of the roughly 50 million Americans that will catch the flu this year, either.
So let’s review some of the many ways you can help boost your immune system…
Eat, sleep, exercise, repeat
First things first: Make sure you’re eating healthy, whole foods. As you know, I’m a big fan of the low-carb, high-protein lifestyle (as outlined in my A-List Diet). But even if that’s not your style—and really, no matter what dietary program you follow—there is one thing that every nutrition expert can agree upon…
Sugar is a prime culprit behind a weakened immune system.
In fact, just one teaspoon of sugar can reduce the ability of your white blood cells (key players in your immune system) to do their job by 56 percent—two teaspoons, by 80 percent. And guess what? The average American eats up to 33 teaspoons of sugar daily.
I’ll let you do the math. And while you’re at it, you’d be wise to ditch the bread and pasta, too. Because it’s all the same to your body once it’s broken down. (There’s a reason that researchers use white bread for blood sugar challenges.)
(I talk about how sugar—in all its forms—is the biggest threat to your health in the current issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter [“FACT: You can’t outrun obesity”]. Not yet a subscriber? Click here now!)
Of course, other lifestyle changes make a difference, too. If you’re a smoker, try to quit or at least cut down. And be sure to get enough relaxation and sleep. (Sleep is restorative for our bodies. It’s also the time when our immune system gets to reset itself from what we expose it to in our normal course of life.) I suggest aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
In addition, don’t forget to exercise regularly. I always recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity weekly (which breaks down to about 20 minutes daily).
Of course, colder temps may soon make it tough to take your workouts outside—and indoor public options aren’t necessarily safe in the age of coronavirus. Luckily, you have a lot of exercise options that don’t even require you to leave your house—like streaming free workout videos on your TV, phone, or computer. So, make sure you’re using them to your full advantage.
And last but not least, make sure you continue to wash your hands frequently with plain soap and water. (No special antibacterial soaps necessary.) This is one of the most effective—and simplest—ways to stop the spread of all germs.
Now, let’s move on to a few key supplements to really help bolster your immune system…
Strengthen immunity with supplements
Vitamin D isn’t the only nutrient in my seasonal supplement arsenal. (Though it’s an important one—you need to keep your levels high, so I recommend a daily dose of at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU per day, and as high as 10,000 IU if you’re deficient. Just remember to get your blood levels checked at least twice a year, to ensure you’re maintaining optimal levels. I like my patients’ levels to be between 80 and 100 ng/mL.)
My other go-to immune supplements to help combat cold and flu season are:
- Olive leaf extract—This is a great natural antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, amongst other beneficial properties. I recommend 500 mg per day—and if you feel a cold coming on, three times per day.
- Oil of oregano—This contains compounds called phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids, which act as nature’s own antibacterial and anti-fungal agents. I recommend 500 mg of the dried form, or a few drops of the liquid, per day.
- Vitamin C—This is nature’s original antioxidant, and it’s still a winner in my book. Our bodies don’t produce any vitamin C naturally, so it’s important to supplement daily. The best dose is around 3,000 mg per day, in divided doses.
- Zinc—This is an immune-fortifying staple. But be careful not to take too much of it, or you could wind up with a bad stomachache. I recommend a dose of 50 mg per day.
- Vitamin A—This nutrient helps to protect the lining of the respiratory tract. During cold and flu season, a good dose is 10,000 to 25,000 mcg per day.
Of course, these are just my top picks, chosen from the list that I have successfully used in my practice every cold and flu season for almost 30 years—and my patients couldn’t be happier (or healthier). To learn more about my top immune health recommendations, check out my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity.