Studies show we may be healthier during the summer with increased sunlight, more fruits and veggies in our diet, and less time spent indoors, but does that mean you should leave your immune system on autopilot?
Immune health during the summer requires supporting unique factors for healthy function, and in this article you’ll find the vitamins, natural botanicals, and Eastern medicine methods you can start using right now to boost your immune health this summer.
Holistic Summer Immune Health
Even in the summer, modern life isn’t always conducive to the components of a healthy immune system. In our “always-on” culture we’re hyper connected to devices, but less so to the subtle cues our body sends for immune health self-care.
First, if you want natural immune health all year long, avoid or minimize the following:
Poor sleep causes a cascade of reactions that weaken and stress systems all over the body. To complicate matters, our routines aren’t exactly sleep-friendly: we’re on devices until late at night, tend to consume sugary foods before bedtime, and have various hormone imbalances that can make staying asleep difficult.
Sleep deprivation can place us as increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and contribute to depression, anxiety, and mood swings (1).
Thanks to increased stressors both in our environment and from the high intake of processed and high sugar foods, we can experience higher than normal levels of cortisol in the body, which can weaken immune response over time. Stress can deplete the necessary vitamins for immune health and negatively affect cytokine production within the body.
Self care isn’t selfish. It’s something your immune system relies on to return hormones back to a baseline and to regulate a balanced inflammatory and immune response.
As I share in Ch. 4 of the Super Woman Rx, inflammation is an immune reaction in response to a perceived threat. In this case, your body can have inflammatory reactions to food, which is often what occurs with sugar, and sometimes dairy and gluten. In that chapter I also talk about the 8 other common food sources of inflammation.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
The Defender is a complete immune health supplement using both the Eastern and Western philosophies of immune building. Doctor-formulated, using organically sourced botanicals, this is the optimal blend of cellular support and defense.
A trifecta of zinc, antioxidant vitamin c, and phytonutrient-rich astragalus support the key immune processes, including healthy innate immunity, white blood cell production, and the normal function of immune cells.
Holistic Supplements & Vitamins for Immune Health
Which vitamins are the most important to support natural immune health? Zinc, vitamin C, and astragalus support each stage of healthy immune system function.
Zinc is responsible for igniting nearly 100 different enzymatic reactions within the body, and is required for proper immune function (2).
Vitamin C supports the production and protection of white blood cells which respond to infectious pathogens.
Astragalus, a mainstay in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is rich in flavonoids and other phytonutrients that support T-cell mediated immunity, in addition to healthy respiratory function (3).
To dial in diet, lifestyle, and supplements, make Defender part of your supplement routine, and follow these 6 steps for a healthy summer immune system.
1. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods
Natural health and wellness begins with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables which actually help improve immune function, due to their high content of antioxidants (which we’ll talk about in a minute) and other biologically active compounds (4).
We commonly call these “phytonutrients,” and they include more than 10,000 identified compounds, whose functions range from supporting cellular communication and enhancing immunity, to helping the body detox carcinogens, and everything in between.
Take advantage of your grocery store and farmers’ market for seasonally available fruits and vegetables that are at their peak ripeness for dozens of these immune-boosting phytonutrients.
Botanical compounds, such as the immune supportive master, astragalus, not only contains these bioactive compounds, but also flavonoids that neutralize different types of oxidizing species, and free radicals (5).
You can find 250 mg of astragalus root in The Defender.
2. Heal leaky gut.
According to increasing research, the cause of joint pain, food allergies, brain fog, and immune problems could be leaky gut symptoms spreading throughout the body. Tru health and wellness for the entire body relies on a healthy gut.
When inflammation created within the gut triggers the intestinal lining to become increasingly permeable, undigested proteins, bacteria, and other unwanted microorganisms make their way into the body, triggering an immune response.
This constant immune stimulation can result in the body attacking itself, and displaying a decreased ability to fight off infection. An unhealthy gut can also cause poor absorption of vitamins for immune health.
You can read more about the 5 pillars of gut health in this post.
3. Get consistent rest
Does life often seem like a challenge to see how much you can get done running on as little sleep as possible? If there was one lifestyle shift to create the biggest impact for action, it would be more quality sleep.
During sleep, the brain and body perform cleanup on a cellular level, not only working to store memories, but also optimizing hormone function, restoring balance to our nervous system, and allowing the brain and heart to repair their active tissues.
My top advice:
- Get electronics out of the bedroom and/or wear blue blockers in the evening to allow proper melatonin production
- Maintain consistent sleep/wake schedules (as much as possible)
- Use a holistic sleep supplement
- Have a nighttime routine with activities that calm the nervous system and prepare it for rest (chamomile tea, journaling, reading a story with your kids, etc.)
Free radicals are potentially harmful compounds that we generate as a natural byproduct of metabolic processes, but also in response to toxin exposure, stress, or a poor diet.
These free radicals can damage DNA, impair cellular function, and generally wreak havoc in the body if not kept in check (6).
This is where antioxidants come in.
Fortunately, a well-rounded diet high in nutrient-dense foods is often the prime prescription for achieving good antioxidant status.
However, due to the increased exposure to oxidative stress in our environment, and the fact that most of us are not eating the wide variety of antioxidant-packed foods, the most prudent course of action is often to supplement with a few of the key antioxidant compounds that can be difficult to get enough of with food.
Would you believe that only 12% of people are considered metabolically healthy? In a time where being metabolically healthy can be the difference between life and death during this pandemic, there has never been a better time to prioritize not just exercise, but movement of all types.
We tend to be sick less often in the summer, and one reason for this may be our increased movement and time spent outdoors (7). Exercise, and elevating the heart rate during low or moderate intensity exercise actually helps boost the immune system.
Some Power Types may not do well with high intensity exercise like HIIT or interval training (you can learn how to determine that by taking the Power Type quiz), but movement throughout the day in a way that makes YOU feel alive and well is beneficial not only for immune health, but mental and emotional well-being too.
Fun Fact: Optimal vitamin C status also helps the body to oxidize (or burn) fat cells, especially during low-intensity exercise. Participants with low vitamin C status in one study burned 25% less fat when compared to individuals with adequate vitamin C (8).
Add Defender to your supplement routine for 1000 mg of vitamin C plus a complete and holistic solution for supporting each stage of immunity.
Download the free Immune System Guide in the shop for 10 more steps for a supercharged immune system.