How to help your Immune System Function at it’s best this Winter

A fever any day at any age promotes instant fear, especially during the pandemic. It’s even scarier if you are a mom because kids get sick and get fevers. I have had a lot of health issues, but luckily I have not been “sick” for over three years. Prior to to this I was reliant on antibiotics and Tylenol every winter. By overusing medication when it wasn’t absolutely necessary I weakened my immune system by depleting something called glutathione. The only way I discovered this is was from a very accurate and personalized blood test that tested my blood at a cellular level ran by a naturopath. Which means I got to see how my cells were working not how a blood level looked. If you didn’t pay attention in science class we are entirely made out of cells! Every muscle in our body, to organ to our self (organism) is made of cells. So functioning on a cellular level is beyond important. For me this meant my blood levels looked okay, but on a cellular level the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants such as glutathione were not being absorbed/produced or used properly. A lot of things can cause this such as; Chronic Illness, Medication Overuse, Chronic Stress and a Poor Diet (everything always comes back to nutrition!). Sadly, most of American’s suffer from one if not all the above causes. I am hoping to help educate you on when you need to treat a fever and how to keep your immune system working in full gear for this upcoming winter season. As always remember this is my personal not medical advice, always seek professional help if you need medical attention.

Glutathione’s Role in Your Immune System.

Glutathione is one of the body’s most important and potent antioxidants.! Antioxidants are substances that reduce oxidative stress by combating free radicals in the body (Berkheiser, 2018).

By taking medications such as Tylenol when not needed you are suppressing and depleting this great antioxidant! Other causes listed above are chronic illness, stress and a poor diet. This is why it is important to treat your body well because although you may not think it is important, it is on a cellular level to survive and stay healthy!

Glutathione: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Interactions

The Critical Roles of Glutathione (Pizzorno, 2014) :

  • It helps protect against oxidative stress (breakdown of cells from exposure to chemicals and toxins)
  • Cofactor for several antioxidant enzymes
  • Regeneration of vitamins C and E
  • Neutralization of free radicals produced by Phase I liver metabolism of chemical toxins
  • Transportation of mercury out of cells and the brain
  • Vital to mitochondrial function and maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)

When do you need to treat a fever?

Fevers are not necessarily dangerous.  The infection may be! A fever is certainly scary but it isn’t always an emergency if you or your little one has a high fever. Fevers stimulate a strong immune response in our bodies which can quickly eliminate pathogens (infection). We want that immune system to kill the infection and not suppress it with medications. Many people panic when they see a fever of 100° F in fear that their child or self will develop brain damage and rely on an antipyretic such as Tylenol or Motrin. An actually temperature is not considered a fever until the it reaches greater than 100.4° F with a rectal thermometer. I read a great post by My Friend the Pediatrician on Facebook. It basically says to follow your gut and observe your child or yourself. You know your body or your child’s more than anyone else! Here are a few things to consider before treating with medication:

  1. Pay attention to your body or child’s body more than the temperature reading. If you or your child is acting in a way that you are concerned, that is more important than a temperature reading. This is when medication and a phone call to your doctor is needed. Lethargy, not crying for infants, and no wet diapers or tears for children can be signs the infection is worsening, there is trouble oxygenating or dehydration. These signs no matter of the temperature warrant not only a call to the doctor but a trip to the hospital.
  2. A fever between 100-100.4 is safe if you or your child are not showing signs of distress or dehydration listed above. You want to fight off those bugs and keep your immune system working non suppressed.
  3. Fussiness or crankiness is not a reason to treat with medication. If you don’t feel good you are not going to be in the best mood! Now if your are cranky because you broke your leg then I think some pain medication is warranted! Otherwise let your immune system work, rest, give or get cuddles and eat the best food you can get down. Always call your pediatrician or doctor if you are concerned.
  4. With all this being said.. it is NEVER normal for an infant under age 3 months with a fever (greater than 100.4° F). This warrants a call to your pediatrician and needs to be checked out immediately.

How to boost your Immune System?

  • Try to incorporate a variety of leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and good quality meats to get in Vitamin C, Sulfur, Selenium and naturally occurring Glutathione! These vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help promote a healthy immune system. Examples include:
    • Strawberries (Vitamin C)
    • Citrus fruits (Vitamin C)
    • Kiwis (Vitamin C)
    • Peppers (Vitamin C)
    • Broccoli (Sulfur)
    • Brussels sprouts (Sulfur)
    • Cauliflower (Sulfur)
    • Mustard greens (Sulfur)
    • Cottage cheese (Selenium)
    • Brown rice (Selenium)
    • Brazil nuts (Selenium)
    • Good quality meats (Selenium)
    • Spinach (Glutathione)
    • Avocados (Glutathione)
    • Asparagus (Glutathione)
  • Avoid alcohol, this has been proven to directly increase liver stress which makes it harder for your body to detoxify and function on a cellular level. This is especially important if you are sufferings from chronic illness, stress or nutritional deficiency.
  • If you are sick and none of those foods sound appetizing (I don’t blame you) make some homemade bone broth with some good quality bones (organic if available). I make this a couple times a month to cook with and have a stash if I need to sip on some soup or broth when I need a little immune boost! If you have an Insta-pot it is sooo easy to make and so yummy! Here is how I make mine:
    • Place all your bones (beef or chicken) in the instapot.
    • Add 6-8 cups of filtered water
    • Add 2-3 cups of vegetables, bonus if you add some from the list above. Fresh is better but frozen is better than none.
    • Add garlic, onion/shallots/leaks
    • Fresh or dried herbs, Salt and Pepper
    • Cook on HIGH for 1 hour
    • Let cool and strain and freeze for cooking or sipping! If you did it right it should be a gelatinous texture after cooled or refrigerated.

I hope you have a healthy winter and healthier immune system always!

References:

Berkheiser, K. (2018, April 25). 10 Natural Ways to Increase Your Glutathione Levels. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-glutathione

Pizzorno J. (2014). Glutathione!. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)13(1), 8–12.

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