~ Dr. Anne Herman, Grand Beauty Spa Anti-Aging Medical Director

By keeping our immune system strong, we can ward off illness.  This season we all want to avoid the flu.  All year long a strong immune system fights off cancer cells and keeps us healthy.  Here are 10 ways to boost our natural defences.

1.    Avoid simple sugars as much as possible. This includes those sweet treats and desserts but also the white flour and refined grain products that turn into sugar quickly. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingested.

2.    Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, A and phytonutrients that supports the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes and squashes. Garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties. Aim for 3-4 servings of fruits and 5 + servings of vegetables.

3.    Get sufficient sleep! We all know sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! Aim for 7-8 hours a night

4.    Get regular exercise. Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost immune system.

5.    Vitamin D3: Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and this cannot be achieved without supplementation during the winter months. It is best to get your levels of 25 OH vitamin D checked for accurate dosing.

6.    Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. Take 500-1,000mg through out the day with meals and snacks.

7.    Zinc citrate: You can take an additional supplement or consume more foods high in this powerful immune supporting nutrient. Oysters and pumpkin seeds are the best food sources.

8.    Probiotics: A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, a major barrier against pathogens and integral to the immune system. Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5-10 billion organisms per capsule.

10.    Beta Glucans and Mushroom Extracts: Much research has shown that these compounds up regulate the function of the innate immune system. This part of your immune system is the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. It helps your white blood cells bind to and kill viruses and bacteria. Patients with autoimmune diseases should not take this.