Cold and Flu Season is Here…Is Your Immune System Ready?
For the past couple of years, everyone has been laser-focused on the COVID pandemic.
But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the seasonal viruses that descend during fall and winter. Especially given that infectious disease experts are warning this could be a particularly bad year for them.
Cold and Flu
Last winter we didn’t hear much about colds and the flu, mostly because it was one of the lightest cold and flu seasons in recent history.
The reason this past season was comparatively light is pretty obvious. The various steps we took to avoid COVID were also effective in helping us to avoid cold and flu viruses:
- Social distancing
- Face coverings
- Disinfecting surfaces
As a result, the 2020-21 cold and flu season went by virtually unnoticed.
But this year, more of us are going back to offices and schools. We’re socializing again. You may have even resumed going to sporting events, movies, and the theater.
And because last year’s cold and flu season was so light…for some of us our bodies have lost the latent ability to resist these common viruses.
Fortunately, there are many ways to give your immune system a boost.
Your body uses vitamin A to support your innate and adaptive immunity.
Vitamin A can be synthesized from beta-carotene (the pigment that gives orange and red vegetables their color) or it can be directly absorbed from food like cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs, fish, and liver.
Several of the B vitamins are critical for a healthy immune system.
B6 is used to produce white blood cells.
B9 (also known as folic acid or folate) supports red blood cell production and immune system metabolism.
B12 is necessary for red blood cell production.
Good vitamin B sources include liver, fatty fish (like salmon), leafy greens, and dairy.
Found in most fruits and vegetables, vitamin C is particularly prevalent in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes. Vitamin C supports your adaptive immune system, and it also helps to prevent inflammation.
You can get some of this important immune system regulator from daily sun exposure. You can also get vitamin D from fatty fish, cod liver oil, beef, or egg yolks.
Either way, vitamin D helps to regulate your immune system, and it helps to fight infectious diseases.
Among its many benefits, iron helps to strengthen your immune system. Low iron levels have been associated with an increased incidence of respiratory diseases like colds and flu.
The best sources for iron include meat, leafy green vegetables, and beans.
This is an important antioxidant that helps to prevent oxidative stress and boosts your immune system. You can get selenium from meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, dairy products, eggs, and whole grains.
Notably found in garlic, sulfur-bearing compounds can help your immune system to suppress inflammation.
It’s not just for making pennies. Zinc activates immune cells called T-lymphocytes (or “T-cells”) which seek out and destroy invading pathogens. Zinc also helps your body to produce more T-cells in response to infection.
The best dietary sources for zinc include seafood (especially oysters), beef, and nuts.
Hormones are vital to virtually every process in your body. It shouldn’t be a surprise that several hormones are critical to keeping your immune system healthy.
The key hormones for a strong immune system include:
Premenopausal women are statistically less likely than men and postmenopausal women to catch infectious diseases like colds and the flu, demonstrating the powerful effect that estrogen has on the immune system. In particular, estrogen enhances the function of immune cells like neutrophils and T-cells to make them more effective.
Your immune system uses inflammation to fight off invaders. Progesterone creates healthy inflammation responses by triggering the production of cytokines. Then, when the infection has been overcome, progesterone restricts cytokine production so cell repair can begin.
Growth hormone is important because it stimulates the production of the following immune cells:
- Interlukin-2 cells
- White blood cells
- Red blood cells
One thyroid hormone in particular, known as T3, stimulates the activity of immunes cells including neutrophils, natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells.
What Can You Do?
There are many easy ways to give yourself an advantage during cold and flu season. Some of these are the same measures that work to prevent the spread of COVID.
But you can give yourself an added advantage by making use of the information listed above.
Not sure if you’re deficient in any of these proven immune system boosters? Renew Youth can help to analyze your hormone levels and your diet to make sure everything is in proper balance. If any of your hormones are deficient, we can create a hormone replacement regimen that is tailored to your body’s specific needs. And if you aren’t getting enough of the nutrients listed above from your diet, we can recommend supplements geared toward your particular needs.
Don’t let cold and flu season catch you unprepared. Call us at 800-850-7511 or use our contact form to schedule your free consultation.