Every day, our bodies are under attack by pathogens and dangerous microbes that enter our surroundings with an unseen, yet undeniable health threat.  This time of year, we are particularly vulnerable to cold and flu viruses.

Our body’s built-in immune system protects us whenever possible, but it can be left wide open to attack due to inadequate nutrition, stress, exposure to environmental toxins, and lack of sleep and physical exercise.  Certain health conditions can also play a role in lowering the body’s defenses.

Assuming that we are working to bring all these factors into balance, what else might we do to help keep our immune systems running optimally?

Here are a few action steps that have proven effective for my clients:

1. Avoid Sugar
The cold and flu season runs concurrently with “sugar season” to create the perfect storm.   Sugar season begins on October 31st with Halloween and runs all the way through the holidays.  Sugar is the “anti-nutrient”.  It depletes vitamins and minerals essential for the immune system, displaces naturally nutritious foods, feeds Candida yeast, and creates blood sugar swings.


2. Work to optimize the production of your body’s natural interferon
Scientists have identified interferon as being critical to healthy immune function.  Dr. Yasuhiko Kojima, the world-renowned immunologist who discovered interferon in 1954, dedicated 40 years of his life to researching plant-based compounds that would naturally increase the production of interferon in the body. * The supplement he created is supported by four human clinical studies** that confirm the extraordinary health and immune-supporting benefits of this blend of plant extracts.*

3. Add in appropriate prebiotic and probiotic foods and/or supplements specific to your needs
Up to 70% of our immune cells are made in the digestive system.  It is, therefore, important to address digestive disturbances.  If you are experiencing gas, bloating, constipation/diarrhea, abdominal cramps, irritable bowel or candida yeast issues, we have some work to do.  Restoring the appropriate beneficial micro-organisms for your specific needs can be very helpful.  You may also need some assistance in identifying any food allergies or intolerances that might be contributing to your symptoms.

4. Add in a solid multivitamin-mineral supplement with optimal levels of Vitamins C and D3 to fill in the gaps
Here in Michigan, it’s almost impossible to keep our Vitamin D at optimal levels during the winter months without supplementation. For this reason, I recommend having your 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D levels checked and supplement based on your results.



5. Get Your ZZZZs
According to Mayo Clinic, “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”  So how much sleep do you really need to keep your immune system healthy? On average, most adults need seven to eight hours of quality sleep nightly.  For teenagers, that number rises to nine or ten hours, and ten hours or more for younger children.

6. Wash Your Hands
There’s no need to use toxic antibacterial soaps.  Simply wash well with warm water and a mild hand soap.

7. Keep Allergies Under Control
Allergies can be a sign of an underperforming or overwhelmed immune system.  You could liken them to the canary in the cold mine.  Make sure to delve into the root cause of your allergies and take control.  An overburdened immune system is generally unprepared to ward off winter colds, flu, and infections that come visiting.  If you need some help with this piece, I’m here to help!


8. Don’t Forget to Exercise!
Schedule and maintain your fitness routine, and don’t let the cold weather be an excuse to slack off on your workouts.  Exercise is a great way to stay in shape, but it also helps you alleviate stress and keep your immune system revving.  New to indoor exercise?  Consider a guided workout class.


9. Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins, Both in the Home and Out
Don’t forget to air your home out in the winter months. Indoor air quality can be 10 times more toxic than outdoors.  Know what you’re spraying around your home, and use only non-toxic cleaning and household products.  In your outdoor environment, avoid chemical pesticides and weed killers, toxic fumes and solvents.  Indoors or out, these toxins are all irritants that burden your immune system.


10. Reduce Stress!
I can’t stress this enough (pun intended )!  When we are in chronic fight-or-flight mode, our bodies are continually preparing to fight the saber-tooth tiger by sending a large portion of our blood flow to the major organs.  The digestive system doesn’t serve us in this critical task and is therefore left unnourished.  We can begin to suffer from nutrient deficiencies, constipation, gas, bloating, and much worse.  What do digestive challenges have to do with immune health?

As I mentioned previously, our digestive system houses more than 70% of our immune system.  When our digestive system is malfunctioning and our immune system is not getting the nutrients it needs, Katie bar the door!  We can be left wide open to attack from any cold or virus that comes our way.  Science is exploding in the area of gut/digestive health.  Study after study is proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a healthy gut is foundational to every aspect of our health!  Message me for an invite to my upcoming webinar on this important topic.  You won’t want to miss it!!

To Your Family’s Amazing Health This Winter and Beyond!

Debbie Miller, CHHC, INHC, FNL-DI
Integrative Wellness and Prevention Health Coach
Gut/Digestive Health Educator

American College of Nutrition
International Association of Health Coaches
American Association of Drugless Practitioners

*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.

**Ushiroyama T, Yoshida S, Tadaki K, Ikeda A, Ueki M.  Clinical efficacy of EH0202, a Kampo formula, on the health of middle-aged women. Am J Chin Med. 2004;32(5):755-70.

Ushiroyama T, Yoshida S, Tadaki K, Ikeda A, Ueki M.  A pilot study of a Kampo formula, EH0202, with intriguing results for menopausal symptoms.  J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Apr;10 (2):397-9.

Kaji K, Yoshida S, Nagata N, Yamashita T, Mizukoshi E, Honda M, Kojima Y, Kaneko S. An open-label study of administration of EH0202, a health-food additive, to patients with chronic hepatitis C.  J Gastroenterol. 2004 Sept;39(9):873-8.

Kubo M, Hashimoto Y, Yoshida S. The effect of health food containing EH0202 on physical and mental symptoms accompanying menstruation in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Clin Pharm Ther. 2004;14(2):129-142.

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