By: Cassandra Carr, Naturopathic Medical Doctor
The Naturopath’s Guide to Basic Immune Health.
It’s always good to get a reminder to get back to the basics. – things we can always return to for a solid foundation of health – including immune health this Fall season. As days shorten, the air gets colder and we move more towards the indoors, here are some gentle reminders of tenets of health that still apply all year round, but especially for immune health in Fall and Winter seasons:
Adequate, Restful Sleep: nothing replaces 7 – 8 hours of quality rest for your body to repair and give your immune cells a focused time to fight off any foreign invaders. Minimizing screen time and stimulating activities an hour before bed will help improve sleep quality. Medically, obstructive sleep apnea is a common way in which some are not getting the adequate rest required and wreak havoc on immune health, metabolism, hormones and energy. If you are concerned this is a part of your health picture, talk with your healthcare provider about an at-home sleep test.
Daily Movement: We’re not saying start training for a marathon, but choose some form of movement/exercise that is joyful for you and you look forward to. This could be as simple and cheesy as kitchen dance parties, a walk before work, or joining a group fitness class that energizes you. Moving your body consistently helps lymphatic flow, which is where a large portion of our immune system resides. It could even be as small as a few squats a couple of times per day at work. Get creative, keep is it simple, and make it fun! Dr. Casey likes to share with her patients Zach Bush’s 4-minute nitric oxide producing workout.
Whole Foods: no, we are not referring to the grocery store. We are talking about wholesome meals cooked with veggies of the season. Think squashes, carrots, onions, beets – all slow roasted in a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of Himalayan sea salt. You will be set for colorful, vitamin and mineral-rich roasted vegetable dish you can use throughout the whole week. Any chance you have to incorporate more food as medicine (think: kale or spinach wilted into soups, eggs or frittatas, adding a side salad …) the better chance your immune cells are replete with co-factors required for them to function.
Practicing Mindfulness Daily: excess stress releases cortisol, which is a hormone that suppresses our immune system. Engaging with stress managing activities such as prayer, meditation, seeking out counseling, biofeedback or a designated short morning mindfulness routine to help set your nervous system for the day can be great ways to help manage the stressful world we live in. If you need more guidance, Insight Timer is an app that we recommend to our patients as a sort of “Google search bar” for meditations, talks, music that is free. Slowing down with the change of the season and noticing the small changes that are happening in nature daily as it winds down for winter is also a free and easy way to bring down stress levels.
Needing more guidance?
We will do more immune-focused spotlights this month, including our favorite immune supplements, tools, trips and tricks. Of course, all of our providers are here to support your health goals this Fall season. From acupuncture, chiropractic, nutritional guidance, massage, and naturopathic primary care, our passionate and experienced team wants to help you with your wellness.
You can check out more of Dr. Casey’s writings through the local Natural Wellness magazine publication and sign up for newsletters at her website, https://www.drcaseycarr.com/