How to Support a Healthy Immune System

Has your household been invaded by one of the hideous viral illnesses going around? We’ve seen many patients in recent weeks trying to recover from upper respiratory infections, stomach bugs…and it has hit our own office staff hard, too. It’s been recently reported that the actual flu (Type A) is running rampant in Ohio!
A virus needs to run its course, and most people will recover without the need of any additional medical intervention. The use of natural treatments and supplements or over-the-counter medicines to treat the unpleasant symptoms of these nasty viruses can help your quality of life during your illness. Sleep can be difficult when you can’t breathe through your nose or you’re constantly coughing!
Unfortunately, it is possible that your winter virus can still migrate into a full-blown bacterial infection (sinus/ear infection, bronchitis, pneumonia) that may require the use of an antibiotic, a course of steroid treatment (Prednisone), an inhaler, or other prescription medicines. Do what you need to do get healthy and wipe out that bacterial infection, then follow these tips below to restore your gut health and support your overall immune system.
This simply cannot be stressed enough – EVERYONE needs a probiotic! Over 70% of our immune system function begins in the gut – we have more bacteria in our digestive tract than we do cells in our entire body. We need the good bacteria to balance the scales in our digestive tract, and after a course of antibiotics…it is ESPECIALLY important. Broad spectrum antibiotics kill bad bacteria, but they also good the good bacteria. Please continue with your normal dose of probiotics during antibiotic therapy, but you shouldn’t take them at the same time – take an antibiotic and a probiotic at least 2 hours apart.
A standard dose of probiotic for most adults is around 20-40 billion CFU. After a course of antibiotics, it is recommended that you double or triple your dose for at least two to four weeks.  The most recent research shows that a course of antibiotics can disrupt your gut flora for 6 months (yikes!). That alone will impact your immune system and make it more difficult to fight future infections. Ramping up your probiotic use to aggressively repopulate the good flora in your gut is the first step in the right direction.
Our office highly recommends Orthobiotic (20 billion CFU) as a daily probiotic. You may take 1-2 per day as a regular supplement and increase the dose after antibiotic use for a period of time. If you would prefer, you may also choose to use Probiotic 225 for two weeks. This is a powdered form of probiotic and, as the name implies, is 225 billion CFU…a great choice after antibiotic therapy.
Sugar is inflammatory and while fighting or recovering from illness, you want to REDUCE inflammation, not promote it. Did you know that eating sugar also curbs immune system cells that attack the bad bacteria? To avoid confusion, when we say “sugar” we are primarily referring to “added sugar,” but this also includes refined carbohydrates and alcohol. Don’t worry about the naturally occurring sugar in whole fruit, but it would be best to avoid fruit juice (it’s a sugar bomb).

A great way to temporarily eliminate sugar and jump start a healthier eating plan overall is to try a metabolic / liver detox program. We offer the Orthomolecular Core Restore program, which is a 7-day liver detox kit that includes three supplements and an eating plan. This is not a juice or colon cleanse – it is a clean-eating template that eliminates the top inflammatory or allergenic foods for one week. Our typical average patient sees a 50-70% improvement in symptoms after only one week! We recommend this liver detox program before beginning any weight loss program, after holidays or vacations when we splurge more, or after illness and/or antibiotic treatment. It’s a proven program you can do as many times per year as you like, but at least two to three times annually is best for optimal health.
Eating a whole food diet, and reducing or eliminating processed and fast food, is the best nutrition strategy for supporting your health. But due to a myriad of reasons that include how far our food is transported before it is available in the grocery store, to the conditions of our mineral-depleted soil, nutrient supplementation is almost always needed to ensure proper intake of the essential nutrients.
Here are the top supplements you should consider taking to make sure your immune system can better fight viral invaders – during an active illness or to prevent them in the future:

  • Vitamin D3 – get your level checked and aim for the optimal range of 60-80
    Vitamin D deficiency is the most common seen in adults. Research has proven that a deficiency in D3 is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.
    Product Recommendations: Vit D3 5,000 IU, K-Force or Liquid Vit D3 + K2
  • Vitamin B12 – get your level checked and aim for the top third of the “normal” range
    The B vitamins help protect the gut from pathogens and B12 helps with cell division and growth.
    Product recommendations: Methyl CPG, B12 (billable to insurance) or Lipo B (self-pay) injections in our office
  • Vitamin C – adequate intake of Vitamin C (up to 1 gram) alleviates symptoms and shortens the duration of respiratory infections, including the common cold.
    Product recommendation: Buffered C Capsules
  • Zinc – like Vitamin C, adequate intake (up to 30 mg) does all of the above. In addition, Zinc supplements stimulate particular immune cells and reduce oxidative stress.
    Product recommendation: Reacted Zinc
  • Immune supporting blends such as Daily Immune or WholeMune may also be used, as needed. The supplement blend Viracid may be used during an active viral infection to allow for quicker recovery and less severe symptoms.

It’s frustrating enough when you catch a virus and have to feel lousy while fighting it, but even worse if you continue catching every new virus you’re exposed to because your immune system remains compromised.
Bounce back stronger than ever by not overlooking the importance of protecting your gut health, eating a real-food diet and adding quality, pharmaceutical grade supplements to achieve wellness.
*Please Note: the links to the supplements mentioned above are available in our online supplement store. If you are a registered user, just sign in to see the supplement recommended. If you have not yet registered, simply register using your email address and assign a password. Supplements purchased from our online store may be shipped directly to your home from the manufacturer and orders over $50 quality for free shipping.