Ten Tips for Boosting Immunity Naturally
By Rudrani Banik, M.D.
In these fluid times of the Covid pandemic, it’s important to continue to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities against this invisible enemy. Supporting the immune system boils down to 10 basics:
1. A Plant-Rich Diet
Eating five cups of colorful fruits and veggies a day provides all the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients the immune system needs to function well. Diversity in foods is important, so rotate various colorful fruits and veggies during the course of the week.
2. Immune-Boosting Foods
A handful of roots, bulbs and spices are known to promote immune function. These include ginger, garlic, red onion and turmeric, among others.
The 100 trillion microorganisms that reside within us, collectively known as the gut microbiome, aid digestion and immune function and fight pathogenic invaders that can cause disease. Probiotics support the gut microbiome. While probiotic supplements are available, it’s even better to regularly eat a variety of fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled veggies, yogurt and kefir.
4. Immune-Boosting Botanicals
Ancient traditions like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine relied on herbs and botanicals for good health. Herbs such as ashwagandha, oil of oregano, echinacea and Sambucus nigra (elderberry) are still used today to support the immune system and fight infections due to common viruses and bacteria.
5. Plentiful Hydration
Adequate hydration is the key to good health. It’s not just good for circulation, but also very important for detoxification. My thumbnail recommendation is at least an ounce of fluid daily per half-pound of body weight.
6. Adequate rest
Sleep allows the body and mind to recharge and re-energize. It does wonders to strengthen the immune system. My general recommendation is seven to eight hours a night.
Movement is critical to immune support. Try to move at least 30 minutes a day, whether it’s low impact and gentle, such as walking, stretching or yoga, or more intense and aerobic, such as running, biking or swimming.
8. Stress Management
Too much stress makes us more susceptible to infections. There are many ways to mitigate stress through meditation, music, gardening, reading or other practices that encourage a state of relaxation and joy. Practice some form of stress reduction at least 10 minutes a day.
9. Social Interactions
Maintaining social interactions can be challenging in a pandemic, but it’s important to our mental and physical health. Fortunately in the digital age, it’s easy to stay connected.
My top picks for immune-boosting supplements are vitamins C and D, zinc, selenium, probiotics, oil of oregano, elderberry, a mushroom blend, N-acetylcysteine, quercetin and ashwagandha. When purchasing supplements, look for brands labeled “pharmaceutical-grade.” I use an online pharmacy called Fullscript (us.Fullscript.com), which vets all manufacturers prior to offering their products.
Together these strategies can help strengthen the body’s immune reserve and protect it against Covid and other illnesses.
Rudrani Banik, M.D., is an integrative ophthalmologist and the founder of Envision Health NYC, located at 136 East 57th St., Ste. 1502. For more information, visit RudraniBanikMD.com.