Immune Boost Your Life

November 18, 2009

How do we keep ourselves healthy during flu season—and for life?

The answer starts with taking a big-picture view of your life and then developing lifestyle habits that support and maintain good health.

“If we put our body in the right position and do what it’s meant to do, good things happen—like positive immune systems,” says Dr. Mark Adams, a naturopathic physician and founder of onvo, a whole body health practice based in Bellevue, WA. 

“Good real food, supplements, sleep, hydration, and physical activity add up over time,” says Dr. Mark. “We don’t have to be perfect,” he adds. “Our bodies are made tough. We’re not delicate flowers.”

To find out what we need to know to be healthy, we asked Dr. Mark for some tips and guidance.

Eat real food

Good quality food equals good health. Dr. Mark defines “real food” as the food that’s been around forever: fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy, poultry, seafood, and meat. “Food without labels is generally better than food with labels,” he says. Real food also hasn’t been processed or refined.

Don’t be fooled by items that claim to be “health food”—a lot of it has been processed. Remember: “processed” means something has been added to or taken away from the original food. You want to stay as close to the original state of the food as possible.

If you’re on a zone-style plan, you’re eating from what Dr. Mark calls the “real-food category.” This is especially important for diabetics and those with celiac disease—people who need to be diligent about eating real food.

It’s a simple formula: The more real food we take in, the more we improve the quality of our nutrition and build up our immune system.

Add probiotics to your diet

“Helping the digestive system is important to building the immune system,” says Dr. Mark.

Incorporating probiotics into our diet keeps us healthy by balancing the microflora in our bacterial ecosystem and regulating our immune system. Probiotics come in a variety of fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, and in supplement form. Dr. Mark recommends consulting a doctor if you’re going to take a probiotic supplement.

Watch the body fat

When you maintain a healthy body fat level—a benefit of the zone-inspired Chef by Request meals–you boost your immune system. Why? Because body fat stores toxins and puts pressure on internal organs.

Take Vitamin D

Think about it. When do we get sick? When we start to get less sun. As it turns out, people who have sufficient levels of vitamin D are healthier and rarely get the flu.

Dr. Mark recommends taking the vitamin in the form of vitamin D3 (there’s D, D2 and D3), which he describes as “closest to the end product.” Doses vary for individuals. As a general guideline, try something like: 1,000 to 2,000 IU/day for children and around 5,000 IU/day for adults. If you want the most accurate dosage, get your Vitamin D levels checked by your doctor.

Stay hydrated

“Water is a medium for our body,” Dr. Mark tells us. “It’s one of our primary sources of fuel.” On a desert island, we’d die of dehydration before we’d die of starvation. Also, the body needs about two quarts of water a day, some of which it gets from food—it gets it best from real food.

Signs of dehydration include dark or concentrated urine, a chronically dry mouth, and fatigue.

To stay hydrated: Drink 8 to 12 ounces of water upon waking. The conventional wisdom of taking in two quarts (8 glasses) of water a day still holds, although some of that will come from the food you eat, depending on your diet. Also, as you drink water throughout the day, sip your water. If you guzzle it, it goes right through your cells and out of your body.

Sleep and exercise

An active lifestyle—some kind of movement—is essential to the health of human beings. And yet, so is sleep. Sometimes, in our busy ambitious lives, they work at cross-purposes: Should I get some extra sleep or should I work out?

“Sleep should be sacred,” says Dr. Mark, who adds that fatigue is one of the most common complaints heard at doctors’ offices.

So, if you feel run down, and you’re choosing between sleep and a workout, choose more sleep. Or, go on an easier run or a walk. Not every workout has to be intense.

Remember the bottom line: Your body has a greater chance of functioning and being healthy when you’re well rested.

Once you pull all these parts together to keep yourself healthy, you can make the strongest positive impact on your immune system.

“And yes, it takes time, energy, and money to be healthy, but it also takes time, energy, and money to not be healthy,” Dr. Mark says. “After all, health is just another word for life.”

More links:
Learn more about how Chef by Request supports your great health.
Learn more about onvo.
Learn more about Chef by Request.
Stay healthy! Sign up for Chef by Request service.

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