Maximizing immune health function is essential, especially in the era of COVID-19.
Sara Le Brun-Blashka, MS, Director of Clinical Nutrition & Education, Standard Process, Palmyra, WI, www.standardprocess.com
Andrea Burton, Technical Advisor, ADM Protexin, Doral, FL, www.protexin.com
Hank Cheatham, Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Daiwa Health Development, Gardena, CA, www.dhdusa.net
Katherine Cole, R&D Manager, ChildLife Essentials, El Segundo, CA, https://childlifenutrition.com
Serena Goldstein, ND, San Francisco, CA, www.drserenagoldstein.com
Justin Green, PhD, Director of Scientific Affairs, Cargill, Minneapolis, MN, www.epicorimmune.com
Jason Mitchell, ND, Co-founder & CEO, HempFusion Wellness Inc., Topeka, KS, www.probulin.com
Nina Mullen, Co-CEO, Hilma, New York, NY, www.hilma.co
Chris Terrell, ND, RDN, CSCS, Director of Scientific Affairs, Natural Path Silver Wings, Nashville, TN, www.npswsilver.com
Dr. Jay Wilkins, Founder & Formulator, BioNox, Greenville, SC, https://bionoxusa.com
Pamela Wirth, Founder & CEO, Hello Health, Scottsdale, AZ, www.hello.health
Never has the immune system been so in the forefront of the news. The COVID era has thrust the terms “immunity” and “immunocompromised” into the vernacular, as the general public is trying to understand exactly what an immune system is, and how they can maximize its function. Fortunately, there is a lot that can be done to bolster one’s immune system via lifestyle modifications, as well as supplements. Natural Practitioner (NP) spoke with a panel of industry experts who provided insight on this topic, from defining immunity to ways to maximize our immune systems.
NP: Can you describe the biological basis for immunity? In short, what does “immunity” mean, and how does it work?
Goldstein: We have two types of immunity: natural (what we’re born with), and acquired (the ability to create antibodies to whatever is going around so it knows what response to mount if it ever comes in contact, or any of its mutations, again), as ultimately viruses just want a host. They will keep mutating till they find one to survive in (aka. someone who doesn’t have antibodies).
In short, immunity means that we have a proper cascade of different types of cells working to be able to recognize what is us, and if there’s anything foreign to us (i.e. food, viruses, bacteria) that goes in and/or around our body. There are cells that take a look at foreign material and present it to the others to say “is this me?” If yes, no worries, if not, then we mount an immune response—inflammation, swelling, cytokines, white blood cells, etc. rush to the area, neutralize whatever we need to and then dispose of said particle that caused this response. The two main cells, B and T, work to attack invaders outside the cells, and attack any infected cells, respectively. This way, they not only recognize and save memory for later, but also attack and remember their response.
Le Brun-Blashka: Immunity is the body’s two-tiered approach to protecting the body from external threats. The first response comes from the innate immune system, a non-specific response that acts quickly and broadly to perceived threats. The second response comes from the adaptive, or acquired, immune system, a more specific response targeted to the unique threat at hand. The adaptive response is where specially created antibodies come into play to provide specific protection against threats. Immunity develops and begins to grow during fetal development, beginning with a mother’s immune system “sharing information” with the immune system of her developing baby. During and after birth, the mother continues to share immune information, through vaginal and/or skin exposure and breastmilk. The immune system develops over an individual’s life, diversifying with every environmental exposure.
Green: Biologically, immunity is the mechanism by which an organism endeavors to resist infections or toxins that may lead to decreased health. This can occur through various functions of an organism’s immune system. Innate (or nonspecific) immunity is the defense system an organism is “hard-wired” with when it is born. It includes physical responses, such as coughing; barriers, such as the skin or the mucosal layer of the gut; and various molecular factors, such as proteins which evolved to recognize dangers including foreign particles or substances on the surface of harmful micro-organisms and viruses. Adaptive (or acquired) immunity develops over time with an organism’s exposure to factors associated with harmful toxins, micro-organisms or viruses. This can happen through an initial infection or through vaccines that mimic these factors without actually causing an infection. In this way the immune system builds a defense for the next time the factor is encountered.
Cole: Immunity is the body’s collective defense mechanisms against foreign pathogens. The immune system works by first recognizing pathogens as such, and then by responding in various ways, including inactivating or destroying the pathogen.
Wilkins: Immunity means the body’s ability to resist infection or toxins in the body. The immune system is triggered by a variety of different things that the body does not recognize as its own through antigens. Antigens can be anything from proteins on the face of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Once the body has come into contact with a germ, it will store information on how to fight it. If the immune system comes in contact with said germ again, then it will be able to fight germs and remove them from the body.
Wirth: Immunity is largely used as a biological term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological bacterial, viral and fungal invasion. While people are born with a certain level of immunity, we are learning more about the importance of maintaining healthy bacteria and microbes in the gut and its role in the immune system of fighting unwanted infection and disease through the use of nutrition, probiotics and plants.
Cheatham: The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals that fight infection (microbes). The main parts of the immune system are: white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus and the bone marrow. These elements are the parts of one’s immune system that actively fight infection.
NP: What are some obstacles to having a healthy, fully functioning immune system?
Green: Beyond specific diseases, a decreased immune system can certainly occur with age. Poor nutrition can also be a factor, as well as other ways general health can be compromised such as through smoking.
Mitchell: Disease state conditions like cancer, autoimmune disease, transplant patients, gut microbiome imbalance, diet.
Mullen: Things like stress, malnutrition, excessive alcohol use, smoking, underlying health conditions and psychological stressors can significantly impact our immune systems, eventually leading to chronic medical conditions if ignored. Having a compromised immune system, or being “immunocompromised,” is dangerous in the long-term because it makes it harder for your body to fight off foreign invaders efficiently or successfully. However, you don’t need to have a big, life-altering illness for your body to wave a red flag that your system might be struggling. Small symptoms like frequent sinus infections, acne, skin issues, hormonal disruptions, etc. can be as much of a sign that you need to tend to your immune system as severe illnesses would be.
Wilkins: Obstacles can include anything such as hormones, or the functionality of organs. The main condition to a healthy immune system is age. As we get older our body naturally starts to heal at a slower pace. Due to this, autoimmune disorders have the potential to develop, your body has fewer immune cells to fight against disease. Along with that, the body’s immune system’s ability to detect harm declines.
Terrell: There are many different issues that can prevent you from having optimal immune health. These include poor dietary intake and digestion as well as exposure to environmental toxins. Stress and lack of rest are other potential contributors.
Le Brun-Blashka: The immune system’s natural strength generally decreases with age, and poor diet, poor sleep, stress and physical inactivity, as well as certain pharmaceutical drugs may limit the capacity of the immune system.
Goldstein: Not eating a healthful diet (i.e. full of veggies, whole foods) and/or overeating, too much alcohol, smoking, no regular workout routine (somewhat sedentary most of the time), not drinking enough water, not sleeping right, poor relationships, not breathing correctly (finding time to take full belly breaths), “stuffing” down feelings/emotions and/or not being able to process emotions (this can come out as being angry at others, resentful, jealous, etc.), being inside all day, not being around people/isolating, anxiety/depression/fear/sadness, lack of boundaries. Ultimately, going against what it means to be a human being enjoying life on this planet and relationships with others.
Wirth: Maintaining and rebuilding an immune system is complex and takes work as there is no one magic answer. The typical lifestyle and dietary choices of reducing sugar and simple carbohydrate processed foods as well as stress while increasing the amount of water, clean proteins, fruits, vegetables, probiotics, exercise and sleep are important. When considering rebuilding an immune system, it is important to note through tests (vitamin, genetic, heavy metal, bacterial/viral/fungal, etc.) what has made the immune system stressed and work to address each item in conjunction with healthy lifestyle and dietary choices. This can take months or years and dedicated effort.
Burton: The microbiota is intertwined with our immune system (as well as other body systems), and research suggests it may influence host development and resistance to disease. Those with an imbalance in gut bacteria (known as dysbiosis), may be more prone to inflammation and consequent impaired immune resilience. This is logical when we consider that 70 percent of our immune cells are located within the gut.
The role of diet may also impact our immune responses. An “activated” immune system increases the demand for energy during periods of infection, whilst under-nutrition may impair immune function. The typical Western diet consisting of high sugar, trans and saturated fats, whilst being low in complex carbohydrates and micronutrients is associated with inflammation, increasing the risk of immune dysregulation.
Aging is another determinant upon immunity, where research is highlighting its importance. This is especially relevant when we consider that we live in an aging population. Alterations to the innate and adaptive immune systems which occur with age, are linked to biological processes known as immunosenescence.
Immunosenescence describes a process akin to aging of the immune system which leads to a decline in the response to infection of both the adaptive and innate immune systems. Some principle features of immunosenescence include reduced phagocytic capabilities, reduced bactericidal activity, and neutrophil changes (the first line of defense toward invading pathogens). There may also be a social influence in the association between age and lowered immunity, as poor diet quality is considered common in older populations. This could be due to changed living environments, such as living alone and/or less frequent contact with friends.
Other elements that may play a role with immunity include underlying health conditions, include metabolic syndrome, lack of physical activity and chronic stress, all of which may contribute to systemic inflammation.
Cole: Obstacles that people face to having a healthy fully functioning immune system include age, health conditions and poor diet. Infants for example, have an underdeveloped immune system and must develop this over time. Health conditions can be obstacles to immune health as well as lack of key nutrients from poor dietary happens all of which can greatly diminish immune health.
NP: Is it possible to build immunity naturally to certain disease processes? What lifestyle approaches could work?
Wilkins: The best way to naturally boost your immune system is through a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I personally use nitric oxide supplements to increase my body’s nitric oxide levels so they can assist my body naturally and fight off any threats to my body. Of course, I also maintain a healthy sleep schedule, and exercise regularly.
Terrell: Making sure that your body is in optimal health is essential for its ability to protect itself from numerous health issues. As with all things in life, your body requires adequate fuel. Providing it with essential nutrients is important to help keep the immune system (among others) firing on all cylinders. To nourish it properly will help strengthen its function and purpose. Though our immune system is not 100 percent bulletproof, you can increase its protective strength the better its fed.
Wirth: More research and data continues to showcase how a healthy gut (microbiome) contributes to a strong immune system. For instance, 80 percent of the immune system rests in the gut and nearly 90 percent of the neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. This complex bidirectional communication positively affects heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep and effective digestion, and it may help prevent or mitigate some autoimmune, autism and neurodiversity disorders. While putting good prebiotics and probiotics in the system is thought to be helpful, it is equally important to minimize sugars (or foods that metabolize into sugar) that bad bacteria feed on. If the microbiome is out of balance, some plants have been found to help by being anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal or antioxidant in nature.
Burton: A healthy lifestyle can be helpful in supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system. Researchers are currently exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. It’s a good idea to work on encouraging a healthy microbial balance in the gut to support healthy immune responses. Traditionally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, miso and live yogurt may help address dysbiosis in the gut, and can be used along-side live bacteria supplements. In particular, incorporating the following foods into your diet may help to support the immune system: garlic; berries; oily fish; oysters; mushrooms; culinary herbs; Brazil nuts.
Cole: While it’s not possible to build an adaptive immune response naturally without exposure to pathogens, you can build your innate immunity naturally through select lifestyle choices. First and foremost, we must ensure people are getting adequate nutrients from their diet.
Le Brun-Blashka: In some—but not all—disease cases, the body can build an ample amount of antibodies and provide protection. In some cases of particularly infectious diseases, modern medicine gives the immune system a leg up by enhancing the antibody-production process through various, thoroughly researched, safe methods.
Support your immune system on both fronts with a healthy, diverse diet, regular physical activity, healthy sleep and healthy stress management.
NP: What role do supplements play in helping to support immune systems?
Wilkins: Supplements provide support to immune systems through vitamins and probiotics. Most immune supplements contain ingredients that work to boost the overall functionality of the immune system.
Le Brun-Blashka: In general, an all-around healthy lifestyle supports whole-body health, including the immune system. Immune activity requires energy and structural support in the form of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate), and all of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) each play a role in supporting the body’s systems, including immunity. However, certain nutrients have been highlighted in research to be particularly beneficial for supporting the immune system, such as vitamin D and zinc. Additionally, supporting gut health is important for immunity, per existing and ongoing research of the connection between the gut and other systems of the body, such as the immune system.
Goldstein: Supplements are there to supplement, not replace, an unhealthful lifestyle. They are wonderful in helping the immune system kick whatever’s going on, as well as target any specific symptoms. Some of my favorites are high dose vitamin C (about 6-8 grams per day during), zinc (30 mg during & a bit after), cooking with garlic cloves, taking oregano oil, vitamin D3 (5,000 IU)/K2, colloidal silver and mushrooms (cordyceps & reishi caps, tincture, tea).
Green: A healthy diet is key to a healthy immune system and supplements can play a role, filling in any gaps from poor nutrition. If you don’t like vegetables, one could look for fiber supplements or multivitamins to address the deficiencies that may occur. The healthy effects of eating fermented foods could be addressed by taking probiotics or postbiotics. Terrell: Supplements, as the name states, provides the body with “fill-in” nutrients it may be thirsting for. If someone’s dietary intake is not satisfactory, then supplements help fill in where voided. Supplements are playing a more commanding role in today’s Western diet which is nutrient decreasing compared to our ancestors. They provide an amazing addition to a healthy lifestyle for optimal immune support.
Cheatham: Dietary supplements can play an important role in supporting the immune system. Commodity vitamins like vitamin A, B-Complex, C, D, E, traditional herbs such as astragalus, goldenseal, elderberry, and echinacea and minerals like zinc, selenium, iron and copper have all been shown to support the immune function.
Burton: A varied and balanced diet is a foundation of good immunity. However, given declining nutrient levels in our soils and foods, and increased pressures on the immune system from many aspects of modern life, supplementation can be beneficial in certain circumstances to provide additional support. For example, many people have low vitamin D levels in the winter months when we can’t synthesize it from the sun’s rays, which can have a negative effect on immune function. As sufficient vitamin D is difficult to obtain from food alone, supplementation may be needed.
Wirth: Today’s busy lifestyles and nutrient-depleted foods as well as genetics play an important role in our immune systems. Thankfully due to transparent label laws and new available tests, it is increasingly cost-effective and simple to understand nutrition and one’s genetic markers and how to tailor nutrition and supplement as necessary. As more research and data become available, we will continue to see supplements that address the gut-brain axis, genetics and nutritional deficiencies.
Cole: Supplements which have ingredients that have shown efficacy in immune support areas, may offer patients an additional option to consider along with standard healthy lifestyle choices.
NP: What product(s) does your company offer that is specific to supporting immunity?
Mullen: Hilma offers two products that specifically help support your immune system: Immune Support and Elderberry Immune Gummy. Even though our system should be able to be there for us during challenging periods like seasonal changes, taking Hilma’s products, which both contain zinc, help your body better cope. Hilma products also include turmeric, ginger, vitamin C and more, which are all simple places to start to prevent immune deficits that might occur from the stressors of daily life.
Wilkins: Nitric oxide (NO) is naturally secreted as an immune response to bacteria. NO is produced from l-arginine or vegetables such as spinach, beets and arugula. Our signature product M3 Ultimate Nitric Oxide Nutrition is loaded with l-arginine, beetroot and watermelon extract, creating the perfect nitric oxide supplement. With powerful antioxidants and vitamins like D3 and K2, M3 naturally produces nitric oxide through the l-arginine pathway. Nox3 Beets Ultimate Nitric Oxide Lozenge and Nox3 Greens Ultimate Nitric Oxide Superfood, both give you the perfect nitric oxide boost through the nitrate pathway. Nox3 Greens uses 26 different, powerful superfoods such as spinach, beetroot and recently added arugula. Nox3 Beets is loaded with potent nitrate rich beetroot extract. Thus giving you overall benefits of nitric oxide and allowing the body to naturally support the immune system. Terrell: Natural Path Silver Wings colloidal silver is incredibly beneficial for immune support. I have chosen to partner with them as they use elemental silver which is the form I prefer from the research I have done.
There are three main distinguishing advantages. First, their silver is atomic (not ionic): Atomic is most preferred because it doesn’t use electricity in manufacturing. The atom of silver stays intact with 47 electrons. Thus, atomic colloidal silver is much more stable from the earth, through manufacturing, to sitting in the bottle on the shelf and provides excellent safe immune support. First, they have higher parts per million (PPM) of silver particles making it a stronger potency vs. other weaker 10 ppm bottles. Also, their small particle size for optimal absorption and safety. True colloidal silver is achieved when the size is between 1-100 nanometers. Silver Wings ranges within only 1-3 nanometers.
Cheatham: Daiwa Health Development has five products that can support healthy immune function.: BRM4, Daiwa Krill Oil powered by Superba 2, Daiwa Super Krill Oil powered by Superba Boost, Daiwa Gastro Health and Daiwa Joint Health. BRM4 is Daiwa Health Development’s flagship supplement. It is a well-researched product produced with Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Compound (RBAC). RBAC has been shown in scientific research studies that it can more than triple Natural Killer (NK) cell activity, if required, but will not overstimulate the immune response but instead, will bring the immune system to its optimal level.
Wirth: Hello Health’s six doctor-formulated products focus on brain, gut and immune health in Kids and Adults with two more products launching shortly. Here are our top three products that work as a system:
Belly Great: Belly Great contains a proprietary 15-strain probiotic and two prebiotics with methylfolate (mood) and vitamin D3 (immune and bone). It supports healthy digestion, immune system and mood support.
Mighty Might: Mighty Might immune system support for kids & adults, is brain nourishing and contains omega-3 (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant), frankincense (anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant), curcumin (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant), organic olive leaf extract (anti-viral), organic oregano (antibacterial), organic cinnamon (anti-fungal) and zinc.
Happy Brain Mushroom Complex: Contains 10 different species of mushrooms carefully selected for their unique restorative properties such as blood sugar support, heart health, blood pressure support and as an immune booster. The formula includes lion’s mane (mood, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune support), turkey tail (antioxidant and immune support), cordyceps (boost oxygen levels + ATP production for greater stamina), Chaga mushrooms (vitality and endurance) and many more.
Burton: As different bacterial strains have individual beneficial effects, multi-strain products such as Bio-Kult Multi-Strain Advanced Formulation, which contains 14 different strains, may have more positive benefits overall, supporting the immune system in a variety of ways…
As different bacterial strains have individual beneficial effects, multi-strain products such as Bio-Kult Multi-Strain Advanced Formulation, which contains 14 different strains, may have more positive benefits overall, supporting the immune system in a variety of ways. For example, one of the Bio-Kult strains (Bacillus subtilis PXN 21) has been shown to be particularly effective at stimulating the innate immune system, whilst the Bio-Kult Lactobacilli strains have shown potent anti-microbial properties. Bio-Kult Boosted contains the same 14 strains as Bio-Kult Advanced, but at 4 times the strength (minimum concentration of eight billion live microorganisms per capsule). Bio-Kult Boosted also contains vitamin B12 in its naturally occurring active methylcobalamin form, such as that found in many food sources which contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, so is a great option for those looking for some additional immune support this fall and winter.
Mitchell: Probulin’s Total Care Immune Probiotic supplement includes 100 mg of Eldermune, the equivalent to 4,225 mg of whole elderberry, a functional ingredient scientifically studied to support the immune system.
Le Brun-Blashka: Epimune Complex is a vegan immune system support supplement designed to help your immune system stand up to challenges. It helps support respiratory health. Key ingredients are organic acerola; calcium lactate; zinc rice chelate; turkey tail and maitake mushrooms.
EpiCor: EpiCor is a whole food fermentate comprised of proteins, fibers, polyphenols, vitamins, amino acids and beta glucans that have been clinically shown to provide significant immune health benefits.
MaitakeGold 404 Extract: MaitakeGold 404 (15 percent) is a proprietary combination of a certified organic maitake mushroom powder from mycelial biomass (85 percent by weight) and maitake mushroom fruit body extract (15 percent by weight) derived under a patented method from the fruit body of maitake.
Immuplex: Immuplex blends essential micronutrients and minerals as well as Protomorphogen and Cytosol extracts to support the immune system.*
Echinacea Premium: Echinacea Premium combines the roots of Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea to enhance healthy immune system function.
Cataplex D: Cataplex D supports bone health, mineral absorption, the immune system and cellular processes.*
Green: We offer EpiCor, the leading postbiotic brand. It’s a one-of-a-kind gut microbiome modulating ingredient clinically shown to support immune and digestive health. Backed by over 75 years of fermentation expertise, this whole food fermentate is made through a natural, proprietary process that creates a unique fingerprint of metabolites that supports a healthy gut microbiome.
Cole: ChildLife offers a wide variety of products of different forms for supporting immune health from liquid vitamin and mineral products to chewable probiotics.
ChildLife Zinc Plus, a liquid dietary supplement containing zinc and copper which are key micronutrients important to immune health.
ChildLife Elderberry Super Immune SoftMelts features Wellmune Beta-glucans. Through scientific studies, beta glucans have demonstrated immune support by activating immune cells such as monocytes and T-cells.
ChildLife LiveBiotics Immune & Digestive Support is a chewable probiotic product that features clinically studied probiotic strains that have demonstrated immune support through randomized, double-blind, controlled trials.
We also offer Liquid Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and First Defense, all of which are ChildLife customer favorites. These products contain key nutrients for keeping the immune system functioning optimally.
NP: What role is/has COVID-19 played when it comes to the immune health category?
Wilkins: COVID-19 has completely ramped through the immune health realm. With the lack of information in the beginning of the pandemic, it caused concern on how to best help. Many companies have branched out and attempted to assist in any way possible to fight the pandemic. The main thing Bionox focuses on is how to naturally aid against disease. We have combined maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle as stated above, along with good hygiene, and trying to keep your body’s immune health up through our best selling products, M3, Nox3 Greens and Nox3 Beets.
Goldstein: I think COVID could be a wake-up call to people who may have thought their routine was “fine,” but now question why they may need so many medications—are they even “healthy?” Do they truly know what they want to about their body and their immune system? Hopefully look more not only into natural medicine, but lifestyle to empower themselves to take care of their health in a different way. Much of what I have heard is that it has allowed many to pause and really reflect on their lives, with the rise of working from home and not being so ‘go go go,’ beyond the immune health category (though similar), where they can make their lives easier.
Terrell: COVID has definitely brought awareness to the immune health category and the benefits of supplements and their role in immune health. I am fortunate to work with other doctors who have been open minded to include particular supplements with patients to help support their immune system. COVID has blown the top off of immune supplement sales in our natural products industry in 2020 and with the new Delta variant, sales still remain robust.
Cheatham: Given the urgency to address COVID-19 natural products have become an efficacious complement to vaccines and other pharmaceutical treatments. The demand for natural immune products has increased. Increasing the white blood cell activity and count will provide the body with enhanced immunity against all invading cells.
Wirth: COVID has opened the door to having more in-depth conversations on health and wellness. There is much work yet to do as we continue to message about the important of nutrition, certain plants and vitamins on their role in preventative care and overall brain, gut and immune health.
Le Brun-Bashka: The COVID-19 pandemic has truly refocused the world’s attention on the importance of an optimally functioning immune system as something we can’t take for granted. Immune strength is something you build over a lifetime, not something that’s fixed overnight. Immune strength tends to go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle including a diet rich with nutrients from colorful fruits and vegetables, daily physical activity, stress management and healthy sleep habits.
Burton: The extent of the pandemic over the past 18 months has shown how infectious illnesses can cause devastation for health, society and the economy across the globe, however it has also highlighted the importance of having a well-functioning immune system. Inadequate immune responses have been exposed as a risk factor for a more severe response to infectious disease.
NP: Do you have any tips for maximizing immune function that practitioners can pass along to their patients?
Goldstein: Yes. In working with your patients, acknowledge them for where they are. Making lifestyle changes can seem daunting, especially as the mind can go to ‘but what if I’m not as good as this health model/or in “perfect health”- so pick two to three things they can feel good about doing right away. If they regularly drink water, what can you add to their water? If they have an oatmeal or smoothie in the morning, maybe tinctures and powders are best so they can add it right in. If they’re on the go, keep everything in pill form. They’re seeing you for the education; just emphasize it’s what they feel comfortable with not only on the day to day, but what they’re able to keep consistent.
Wilkins: We encourage practitioners to tell their clients about taking a natural supplement. The benefits can have astounding effects. We have had practitioners who have tried everything only to eventually find that the natural way has the best effect in most cases.
Terrell: It all starts with how we live our lives, and I cannot say this enough. We need sunlight, proper sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, lots of water and dietary supplements for additional immune support in these strange times.
Cheatham: Health care professionals should promote immune health all year long, not just during cold and flu season. The best protection against bacteria, viruses and other antigens is prevention. Prevention can be provided by a strengthened immune system. Patients should be aware that their bodies are constantly exposed to foreign invaders, not only during the winter months of cold and flu.
Wirth: We always encourage to test and find the “WHY” behind each person’s health and wellness rather than just treating the symptom.
Le Brun-Blashka: Eat colorful fruits and vegetables; they contain important nutrients and phytonutrients to support the immune system and truly the whole body. Move your body. Find an activity you enjoy and make it a habit. Establish healthy sleep patterns and stick to them. Give yourself the best chance at managing stress by setting boundaries for yourself between personal and professional life, finding hobbies you love, and spending time with people who make you feel like your best self.
Burton: Encouraging a health microbial balance may help to support immune and inflammatory responses. Consider including traditionally fermented foods within a protocol, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, miso and live yogurt. In addition to this, providing prebiotic foods may be useful to selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Consuming a rainbow of brightly colored fruit and vegetables could be well worth including within protocols. Nutrients often work synergistically together to support immune function. Therefore, in order to encourage a wide range of micronutrients which include vitamin A, C and zinc, it is worthwhile setting clients a “30 a week” rainbow food challenge, which may improve motivation. Take a walk. It’s easy to slip into the bad habit of eating lunch in front of the computer. Not only is this bad for digestion, it also means you could be missing out on vital opportunities to support your immune system. Getting outside and taking a walk each lunch break is likely to offer a number of health benefits, such as lowering cortisol levels, increasing vitamin D levels (another crucial nutrient for the immune system) and, if you have access to a green space close buy, exposing your immune system to a wider variety of beneficial micro-organisms from the environment to help keep it strong and healthy. Protein rich snacks. Many people get an after-lunch lull, which means by 3 p.m. they’re reaching for the sugary cakes and biscuits. Instead, suggest that patients always have protein-rich snacks on hand. Not only does protein help stabilize blood sugar levels, but it is also the building blocks for many immune cells.
Early bedtime. Sleep and the immune system are closely linked. Studies have shown that people who had a good night sleep after receiving vaccinations created more protective anti-bodies than those who were sleep deprived, indicating a specific role of sleep in the formation of immunological memory. Prolonged periods of not getting enough sleep are therefore likely to have a negative effect on immune function, meaning you’re more likely to get ill more often. Sticking to a regular bedtime and avoiding blue-light from electronic devices for at least an hour before bed also helps to regulate circadian rhythms and production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Soaking in a magnesium salt bath and reading a book is a good way to help you drop off.
Green: Practices that we typically associate with good health choices—exercise regularly, eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, avoid smoking, get enough sleep, minimize stress, follow proper hand washing techniques—all help support our immune system.
Cole: Aside from the basics such as eating healthful balanced meals, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly, additional advice practitioners can offer their patients is to make sure they are getting enough vitamin D. We as humans primarily synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but at high latitudes and especially during winter months, many people are not able to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D and are not getting enough from their diet.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.