Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System This Winter

Neurotransmitter Testing

As 2019 draws to a close, the cold and flu season is just ramping up. From calling in sick to work to missing quality time with family and friends, feeling under the weather wreaks havoc on your daily life.

The best way to avoid falling prone to the inevitable changing of the seasons is to fuel your body with proper nutrients. There are many Naturopathic diet, lifestyle, and supplementation tips that can help you avoid catching the common cold or flu. Here are some of the top tips from your favorite naturopathic doctor in San Diego  to support your immune system naturally during the winter season:

  1. Get Adequate Sleep. Sleep plays an important role in the function of your immune system. Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, allowing illness to settle in without a proper night’s rest. Be sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep during cold and flu season.
  2. Check Nutrient Levels. One of the easiest ways to put oneself at risk for developing an illness is to lack key nutrients that help support the immune system. A nutrient deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t absorb or get from food the necessary amount of a nutrient. Deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems and illnesses. At Spark Health, we test your individual nutrient levels to develop a highly specialized treatment plan to ensure you are getting the necessary nutrients needed to keep you at peak level. 
  3. Receive IV Therapy and Vitamin Injections. IVs and vitamin injections are a great way to get high doses of vitamins and minerals that bypass the gastrointestinal system for one hundred percent absorption. As Spark Health, our immune IV contains high doses of vitamin C, B vitamins, electrolytes, and amino acids. This customized IV is administered to help support your immune system and can be used preventatively or when you are feeling sick to reduce the length of a cold.
  4. Adjust Your Diet.  As a general rule of thumb, you want to reduce the consumption of processed foods, sugar, dairy, gluten, and alcohol to protect the body from unnecessary inflammation. Diets rich in colorful fruits and vegetables have been proven to help support the immune system and prevent disease. Additionally, bone broth and collagen protein are not only nutrient dense but help to support your gut health as well.

For further information about how we can help you stay healthy this winter and every season, please call Spark Health at 858.228.4188 to schedule an appointment or email Spark@MySparkHealth.com.

Spark Health is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway. We look forward to being a part of your journey back to health. www.MySparkHealth.com

Sleep Hygiene

Getting a good night sleep is critical for health and well being. Our bodies do their best cellular repair and rejuvenation while we are sleeping. Additionally, sleep is very important to the formation of memories, if you are actively learning and memorizing material, sleep is essential for proper recall.

During the day:
Limit caffeine intake to one 8oz cup of coffee in the morning, do not drink caffeinated beverages past 11AM.

Spend time outside each day while the sun is up, you do not have to be in direct sunlight. This helps establish a healthy circadian rhythm and aids in falling asleep and waking up at appropriate times. Aim for at least 30 mins daily.

Drinking alcohol can absolutely interfere with sleep quality. Limit alcoholic beverages to no more than 1 per evening to minimize disrupted sleep. Avoid drinking alcohol on consecutive days.

Preparing for sleep:
Consider taking a warm bath with Epsom Salts in the hour before bedtime. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt to a full bathtub. Dim the lights and soak for at least 20 minutes.

Make your bedroom a relaxing and rejuvenating sanctuary. Select the mattress that is right for your sleeping habits. If you notice you toss and turn a lot, it’s possible that your mattress is either too firm or too soft, and you’re having to readjust your sleeping position as a consequence. I personally like a firm mattress with a memory foam topper, giving me the support I need and the comfort I enjoy. Invest in soft, breathable sheets and replace your pillows every couple of years.

When it’s time to sleep, make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. We achieve better quality sleep in a pleasantly cool room, aim for approximately 65 degrees F.

Try to go to bed at the same time each evening, and aim for being asleep by 10PM. Each hour of sleep you get before midnight is effectively worth 2 hours after midnight due to your cortisol being lowest in the evening and peaking around 7AM. We achieve the deepest sleep states when cortisol is low. People who work night shifts often have a reversal in their cortisol patterns, with low levels in the morning and high levels in the evening.

Minimize screen usage at least an hour before bed. There is evidence suggesting the blue light given off from television screens, tablets and smart phones disrupts the normal circadian rhythms involved in falling asleep easily. If you wake in the middle of the night, resist using your phone as it can slow how rapidly you fall back asleep.

Keep bedroom distractions to a minimum, which includes letting pets sleep on your bed. Have a snuggle with your pet as you’re preparing for sleep, and then invite them to sleep in their own bed.

It’s very normal to wake and use the bathroom in the middle of the night, if this is happening more than 1-2 times, consider limiting fluid intake 2-3 hours before bedtime.

If you are the type of person to wake up and start worrying about things you forgot to do that day or what you have to do the next day, keep a pad of paper and a pen next to your bed. Jot down what is on your mind, knowing that you’ll see it in the morning. This keeps you from staying up and worrying about your to do list.

Aim for between 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep a night for adults. Teenagers and young adults may require more like 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep a night.

by Dr. Lauren Mathewson
Spark Health