Immune and Gut Health Management for Fall/ Winter Key Vitamins, Probiotics, and Herbs
Dr. Candi Dias, N.D., C.Y.T
Naturopathic Physician and Certified Yoga Instructor
Going into the cold, dreary, and damp months of the fall and winter is the time when our immune system needs an extra boost as a means to reestablish the conditions for health. When supporting the immune system, I always support the GI too. As a naturopathic doctor I look at my clients’ lifestyle: diet, hydration, sleep, mental/emotional, and physical activity. A key factor is that all should be in harmony to avoid infections. Regarding vitamins: ACE’s + zinc is a must for immune support. Vitamin A, C, E are antioxidants that support our immune system so that we are less prone to getting sick. Zinc is huge in supporting the immune system and often people are not taking or are taking too small amounts. Also, vitamin D plays a huge role in immune and mood support during the dreary days during this time of year. Often when I run vitamin D levels, they are low. Magnesium is another important vitamin as almost every cellular pathway in our body uses mg as a cofactor; it supports the immune, brain, and heart health and improves cellular, muscle and bone health. I often suggest that clients take mg in the evening because it also improves sleep quality. Fish oil or cod liver oil is another supplement which supports decreasing inflammation in the body, in addition to supporting heart and brain health.
If we are treating the immune system, we must support the microbiome by using probiotics. The GI is full of good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria are important for immune and digestive health. The bad bacteria are the ones that create inflammation which leads to inflamed mucosal lining in the stomach and decreased absorption in the small intestine which can lead to diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and over time can trigger IBS symptoms.
Herbs I often suggest are elderberry and prunus cherry these support the immune and respiratory system. Homeopathic wise belladonna (fever) is a good remedy for a fever. Carminatives such as turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek, cardamon, and marshmallow root aid in soothing the digestive system.