With cold and flu season around the corner, it is more important than ever to bolster your immune system this fall and winter. Here are some natural, simple solutions that will help protect you!
1. Chestnuts Bolster Immunity
Chestnuts have been popular for centuries in both Asia and the Mediterranean regions. Chestnuts differ from other nuts by having low fat content and high fiber. They have a mild, sweet taste and a crumbly consistency. An excellent source of potassium, folate, vitamins B6 and C, chestnuts strengthen the kidney-adrenal system and bolster the immune system to fight off the flu and combat infections. This flu season, introduce more chestnuts into your cooking; they are good roasted in the oven, cooked with chicken, lamb, beef, or pork, or in any dish with beans and legumes.
2. Stimulate Your Thymus
Your thymus is a fist-size gland located behind your sternum in the center of your chest. It plays a critical role in the functioning of the lymphatic and immune systems. It develops over time, reaching peak size when you are in your early 30s, and then begins to physically diminish until it shrinks to the size of a pea around age 70. You experience the gland’s shrinking as energy decreases in your body.
To support thymus health, the Chinese use astragalus root. Studies show astralagus is an adaptogen, which means it corrects both high and low metabolic imbalances, acts on invaders wherever they attack the body, and promotes overall vitality. I recommend a traditional Chinese herbal formula called “Immunity” that contains astralagus and it will help to keep your immunity in check.
Another way to stimulate your thymus is to use acupressure. With your index and middle finger, gently tap against the center of the sternum (chest bone) 50 times, in the morning and evening.
3. Immune-Supporting Herbs
You can use the following herbs to help strengthen your immune system:
• Ligustrum has undergone much research recently, which has revealed this herb’s immune boosting functions. Its actions include increasing white blood cell production, phagocytosis, and T-lymphocyte to help cell activities.
• Cherokee Rose is traditionally used to protect the body from external pathogens with its astringent properties. It is also one of the highest natural sources of vitamin C.
• Honeysuckle is a natural, anti-microbial herb that has been used for centuries to increase resistance and fight against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
4. Beta-carotene Builds Immunity
Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that improves immune function and promotes mucous membrane health. In fact, a 1997 study conducted by the Institute of Food Research in the United Kingdom suggested that dietary intake of beta-carotene can enhance cell-mediated immune responses. How to get these beta-benefits this flu season? Eat more orange-colored vegetables, including carrots, winter squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and yams. Additionally, these are all an excellent source of Vitamin C, a famous immune support.
5. Treat Your Body Right
Encourage your body to fight flu and other infections by giving it the care it needs.
• Get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night. Studies show that your immune system function drops by an average of 60 percent after just three nights of poor sleep.
• Keep your stress level low with meditation, tai chi, or yoga.
• Dry body brushing daily can activate lymph circulation that is important to clear out toxic debris and stimulate immunity.
Some people find that the flu shot works for them in preventing the flu while others come down with the flu even with the shots. Discuss with your doctor whether the flu shot is right for you.
• If you feel your immune system has already been compromised and illness is on the way, consider the Cold & Flu formula, which supports recovery as it boosts your immune system. This and other previously mentioned herbal formulas are available from either www.taostar.com or The Wellness Store.
I hope you find the ways to build your immunity for a winter free from cold and flu!
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, a Wellness Medicine group that won the “L.A.’s Best” Award. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]