Strengthen Your Immune System

by Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT
Mille Lacs Health System

Does the seasonal virus going around have you down for the count? Are you missing days of work or school because you can’t shake your illness? We all want to know what we can do to get back to feeling good again in a relatively short period of time.

First, rest. None of us wants to lie in bed all day, but sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed. Your body is spending significant amounts of energy trying to help you recover. Doing things around the house, exercising, or other work tasks forces your body to divert energy away from healing.  This will cause you to be sick longer.

Second, eat immune-support foods. Remember Grandma’s chicken noodle soup?  Eating soup to heal your gut isn’t just an old wives’ tale; traditional bone broth is loaded with amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and other healing components. It’s important, however, that the broth you drink is true bone broth. Canned soups found in the supermarket are typically full of chemicals and other added ingredients that offer no nutritional or healing benefit. Gradually advance to adding other whole foods as you are able to tolerate them.

A probiotic supplement will populate your intestinal tract with good bacteria. As the bacteria support your intestine and digestion, they also build your immune system. Since 70% of your immune system is in your gut, it makes sense to care for your gut when you’re sick. Look for a product that contains 5-10 strains of bacteria and also has a prebiotic for the bacteria to feed on.

Lastly, drink more water. Water is necessary for flushing toxins and optimal cellular function. Being dehydrated adds stress to your body that in turn causes longer healing times. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day.

Eating healthy foods, taking a probiotic, and drinking plenty of water are not only keys to recovery, but also prevention. Give your body the tools it needs on an ongoing basis to decrease the likelihood that you’ll get sick again during the next flu season.

For more information or assistance with your immune system or digestive function, contact your health care provider or dietitian.