Immune System Tips for Fall and Beyond
Immune System Tips for Fall and Beyond
Take stock of your health, home and habits with these six immune system tips. Bonus benefit: protecting the immune system comes with a vast range of health benefits that will rejuvenate you!
1. Get Proper Nutrition
Staying well-nourished is essential for all our bodily systems, including our immunity, to operate at peak efficiency. Micronutrient malnutrition refers to a deficiency in some essential vitamins and trace minerals that are generally obtained from or supplemented by diet. Older people, in particular, tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets, making them especially prone to malnutrition. In the general Canadian population, various minerals (with the exception of sodium) and Vitamin D are common deficiencies. Canadians struggle to meet their calcium and magnesium needs, while exceeding their energy requirements in the form of carbohydrates and fat.
Although you may be eating a varied diet, the nutritional content of our food supply and produce is not what it once was. A UN-backed study found that already, more than 33% of the Earth's soils are degraded, and warned that 90% could become degraded by 2050. Soils provide our crops with their mineral content and nutrition, and increased farming production and faster harvests are resulting in less nutritious crops all around the world.
ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops, which contain an impressive array of trace minerals, harvested from Utah’s Great Salt Lake. In addition to combating micronutrient deficiency, ConcenTrace gives incredible electrolyte support which can balance your energy levels.
Take Vitamin D
Getting enough Vitamin D from food sources can be a challenge, unless you are consuming fatty fish or fish liver oils regularly. Residents in higher latitudes (we’re looking at you, Canada) are at an even higher disadvantage during winter months when UV exposure, a critical source of Vitamin D, drops significantly.
A StatsCan report says that one-third of Canadians are deficient in Vitamin D, most notably 20 to 39 year olds, and also men in general. A study of 19,000 people showed that those with lower Vitamin D levels were more likely to self-report recent upper respiratory tract infections than those with sufficient levels. Variables including season, age, gender, body mass and race were factored in to maintain validity.†
Platinum Naturals D3 softgels (180 capsules), with Vitamin D3 in a base of coconut MCT oil designed to maximize absorption. It’s a 6 month supply in one bottle that will easily get you through the dark winter months.
Mushrooms for Immune System Health
Medicinal or “functional” mushrooms, rich in beta glucans and polysaccharides, deliver potent immunomodulating benefits. Lots of exciting research on the mushroom-immunity link is happening with shiitake, maitake, reish, oyster, chaga and turkey tail mushroom. Find out more in our recent article, "Health Benefits of Mushrooms”.
CanPrev Myco 10 Immunomodulating Mushroom Complex combines 7 function mushroom powders with antioxidant-rich acai, acerola and goji berries. Try a scoop in your morning coffee for powerful daily immune “insurance” and an energy boost.
2. Fight Against Colds & Flus
At this point, thanks to our global pandemic, we’re all getting pretty good at cold and flu prevention. Social distancing, extra cleanliness, and mask-wearing are credited with cold and flu levels dropping to “exceptionally low” levels between September 26 and October 9, 2021. And virtually no community circulation of influenza occurred in Canada over the 2020-2021 winter flu season.
Flu infections during Canada’s 2019-2020 Canadian flu season were at average levels, until pandemic safety measures in March brought about an abrupt end to that flu season a full 8 weeks early, by the end of March 2020.
The CDC in the US and public health leaders across Canada recommend that all adults receive this year’s flu shot. Many, but not all, health experts are warning that the 2021-2022 flu season may rebound and become “a bad year”, as has occurred in previous years following so-called “good years”. The CDC’s annual studies of flu vaccine effectiveness show a 40-60% reduction in the risk of flu infection. Hospitalization during these uncertain times with busy ICUs is something we should be doing all we can to avoid. Flus can pose serious health threats, particularly to those with impaired immunity due to age or underlying medical conditions, and are responsible for between 2000 and 8000 deaths in Canada annually, depending on the severity of each flu season.
If you do catch a virus this season, be it cold or flu, remember these tips from the Mayo Clinic: rest, hydrate, take a saltwater gargle for sore throats, and add moisture to your environment to loosen congestion. In addition, try some time-tested traditional remedies like elderberry, which has been used as a cold and flu remedy for centuries in Europe. Some studies indicate that while elderberry syrup may not prevent viral infections, it can reduce the severity of upper-respiratory symptoms.
Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup has been shown to reduce the length of colds & flus, and has been approved by Health Canada as an antiviral treatment proven to reduce the severity of symptoms.
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer Spray - Lavender fits in your tote and is a delightful way to sanitize your hands when you’re out and about.
3. Reduce Chronic Stress
Have you checked in with yourself lately on your levels of stress? Chronic stress is linked to the 6 leading causes of death, according to the American Psychological Association. Stress for any significant duration can “ravage” the immune system, according to meta-analysis research of nearly 300 studies on stress and health.‡
If you know or suspect that you are battling chronic stress over long periods of time, reach out to your healthcare provider, friends, or a therapist, to begin evaluating your symptoms and physical and mental well-being. As so many major studies conclude, a stressed mindset can lead to more physical and serious health problems, so don’t put off addressing stress.
A fun, simple addition to your environment, soothing aromatherapy, connects the scents of essential oils to the olfactory system that is closely linked to the hippocampus and amygdala, the parts of the brain related to emotion and memory. Diffusers and oils make great gifts too, even to oneself.
The sleep, nutrition and exercise recommendations in this article are all connected to chronic stress, and can offer insights and solutions for it.
Vitarock’s Stress, Mood & Brain Health department is stocked with an array of mental support products that can fight stress through nutritional support, mood balancing, promotion of relaxation, cognitive support and adaptogen support.
4. Remove Any Household Mold
Health Canada considers indoor mould growth to be a significant health hazard. Symptoms of mold exposure may include headache, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and fatigue. If you have high humidity in your home or if you live in a region with particularly high winter humidity, use a dehumidifier or exhaust fan in kitchens, basements and bathrooms. Any small amounts of mold should be removed and the area cleaned (put on an N95 face mask first). For moderate or heavy sightings of mold, you should immediately consult a professional.
Symptoms of mold exposure may include headache, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and fatigue. Natural, non-toxic cleaners for black mold include white vinegar, tea tree oil, thyme essential oil, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
Attitude Bathroom Cleaner Disinfectant carries the EcoLogo certification from Environment Canada, and has a delightful, natural Thyme & Lavender scent.
5. Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise directly and indirectly assists the immune system. Circulation, increased respiration, lower blood pressure and better sleep are some immediate benefits. Indirectly, better cardiovascular health and more proportionate body weight over time will improve immune response.
That standard advice about work and career, “Do what you love” or “Follow your passion”, also applies to working out and exercise! Did you rediscover walking or hiking over the past year? Stick with it this fall and winter and try adding a neighbour, friend or family member to your plan. Or do games or sports pique your interest? Frisbee, catch, hockey, or “AVGs”, active video games (AKA fitness video games), are a few options.
Gyms and studios have reopened. If wandering around gyms is not your cup of tea, maybe group fitness is more appealing, with its combo of motivating instruction and a little “peer pressure” as you get your sweat on. YouTube also has a ton of fitness content ranging from gentle to advanced. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is particularly efficient; in a short amount of time you can burn calories and improve body mass index. If you’re current activity level is minimal, always check with a healthcare provider before initiating an exercise program.
6. Moniter Sleep Quality
It’s good to take an occasional audit of your sleep quality. Are your sleep patterns on track lately? Whether you’re a 6 hour sleeper or a full 8 hour long-hauler, stay conscious of the length and quality of your recent sleep patterns. Do you wake up feeling energized or exhausted? Do you recall any dreams lately, indicating that you’re reaching the deep, REM phase that our minds use to unpack, process and store our life’s events and meaning?
Your solution to improved sleep depends on many factors, like your current nighttime routine, late night screen time on phones and computers, daily caffeine intake, and noise and light levels in your sleeping space. A quick audit of all these factors, and an assessment of your stress level (see point 3 above) may help you quickly address any sleep challenges you are facing.
Orange Naturals Mag Sleep with Magnesium, GABA and melatonin is a triple-yet-gentle formula that is one of our most popular sellers.
*Disclaimer: all information provided here is for educational and awareness purposes only and is not intended to be used in place of medical advice from your qualified healthcare provider. Use this information to supplement, not replace, recommendations from your doctor or healthcare provider.
Further reading on immune system health from the Vitarock Blog:
†Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA., Jr. Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(4):384–90. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
‡Segerstrom, S. C. and Miller, G. E. (2004). Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 130, No. 4.
Written by Ian Batt
Ian is natural health & wellness marketing veteran, with a background in retail, wholesale, regulatory compliance, ecommerce and group fitness. He is a dog dad, entrepreneur, certified yoga teacher and outdoor enthusiast who now calls Toronto home.
Get safe, effective natural products that have been stringently evaluated by experts at Vitarock. Founded by a fellow mom, Alicja is one of Canada’s most respected experts in natural product quality and safety. Every product at Vitarock has been proven safe, pure, green and fair. Come shop with confidence.