6 natural ways to improve immune function this spring

IMG_7763 copyAs the seasons change, our immune systems can be taxed by allergies, increased stress as we start doing more activities, and less sleep as the sun stays up longer each day. It is important to support our immune system so that we can fully enjoy the beautiful weather.

Here are six simple ways to support the immune system:

1. Incorporate garlic and onions in to your meals

Garlic and onions (part of the alium family) provide antimicrobial and immune support. They are delicious in a variety of dishes as well! One of my favorite ways to eat raw garlic is in guacamole.

2. Plenty of fruits and veggies

In the spring and summer, it becomes much easier to find fresh, inexpensive fruits and vegetables, particularly at farmers markets, which are often local as well. Frozen fruits and veggies are also great options as they are usually frozen shortly after being harvested. Fruits and vegetables provide a variety of vitamins and minerals that keep our bodies healthy and able to fend off all sorts of minor illnesses.

3. Sunshine!

The sun is finally starting to come out regularly here in the Pacific Northwest and many of us naturally want to head outside. The vitamin D we get from sun exposure is very important to a variety of bodily functions, particularly the immune system. If you are spending a long time in the sun, be sure to use a high quality sunscreen, however short periods of time in the sun (10-15 minutes) can be enjoyed without sunscreen and allow our bodies to produce vitamin D.

4. Sufficient sleep

With that lovely sun lasting longer each day, we sometimes let our sleep schedules get thrown off. Making sure that you have a cool, dark room to sleep in, with few electronics, is an important part of getting good sleep. When your body is well rested, your immune system, like your brain, is at it’s best.

5. Reduce stress

Spring and summer can be full of fun, with hiking, boating, parties, etc taking up much of our time. Most of us still have work responsibilities and also may have children at home more often than normal. All of this can be a lot of fun, but it can also add a great deal of stress. Finding ways to relax and manage your stress is important. This can include just about anything that you personally find relaxing.

6. Hydrotherapy and Herbs

Hydrotherapy, such as warming socks, has been a staple for immune support and the resolution of mild illness for centuries. Herbs, such as echinacea, eleutherococcus, and ginseng, have also long been used to support the immune system before and during illnesses. Naturopathic doctors are great resources for these therapies.

For more severe illnesses, or regular recurrences, be sure to see your doctor for additional treatment.

Written by DeAun Nelson

My philosophy is that we are all in this together. If you have compassion and care for yourself, that compassion and care will extend to those around you. Naturopathic medicine is all about treating the whole person. In my mind, this means treating not just individuals, but communities. We all have incredible bodies that do incredible things, even when we are suffering. We live, breath, laugh, and love. You are an important being who deserves respect and judgement-free care.