Dr. Rohde's Tips for a Strong Immune System

Here are some simple good-health suggestions that we should always follow, but especially in Influenza or other cough and cold seasons.

1. Minimize Stress

Stress increases cortisol production which suppresses the immune system. Prayer and Meditation are a great way to reduce stress.

And turn off the news! The Media machine has whipped up a huge frenzy of fear and uncertainty, which in turn creates a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. You want to stay informed, but do not dwell on bad news. Focus on the positive news and your relationships with others instead. I promise you will feel happier and stay healthier!

2. Sleep

A good night’s sleep is probably the best medicine for the immune system! Sleep deprivation has been shown to depress our immune systems, which is why it’s so important to get 7- 8 hours of quality sleep per night. It’s best to fall asleep by 10 pm since your body makes the most melatonin from 10 pm to 2 am. Avoid blue light from your screens to optimize melatonin production which is required for healthy immune function. I also recommend wearing blue light blocking glasses when the sun goes down.

3. Fresh Air, Exercise, and Sunlight 

Vitamin D is vital for proper immune function: get out in nature and in the sun! The sun is the best source of Vitamin D which helps to strengthen the immune system. That’s why viral epidemics are most common in the winter - we’re not getting any sun exposure and our Vitamin D levels are low! Leave your phone behind and walk in nature every day!

If you’re not taking any Vitamin D - start today! Buy some 5,000 iu caps and take 10 of them (yes 50,000 iu) for 3 days to boost your level and jump start your immune system. After 3 days, take 5,000 iu daily of a combination of Vitamin D and Vitamin K.

If you can’t get out in nature, a simple form of exercise is a small rebounding trampoline. These are reasonably priced and can be purchased with a handle for ease of getting off and on for those that are a bit unsteady. Just bouncing lightly, without getting your feet off the mat, for 5 minutes multiple times per day will boost your immune system’s white blood cells and help prevent or manage a respiratory illness!

4. Anti-inflammatory, Whole Food Diet

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet helps to strengthen the immune system in several different ways. Most importantly, it helps to balance the gut microbiome. A healthy anti-inflammatory diet ensures that our gut bacteria are well balanced. Our gut bacteria ARE our immune system and we want it to be balanced so our immune system is balanced. Eighty percent of our immune system actually lies in our digestive tract so it’s vital to eat a healthy diet to maintain healthy levels of good gut bacteria that provide proper immune function. Now is a great time to cut out junk food and focus on foods that heal and nourish your body.

Fermented foods are a vital way to boost your good gut bacteria. Fermented foods include sauerkraut and pickles. These items must be purchased in the cold food section, not in the center of the store, as the canning process kills the beneficial bacteria. Others include Kimchee, bone broth, Kombucha, and so many more.

An anti-inflammatory, whole food diet is also high in phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals to support the proper functioning of a healthy immune system. A diet high in sugar, gluten, and dairy can deplete important immune-supportive nutrients such as Vitamin C and Zinc.

Vitamin C helps to improve immune health as it’s a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C can be found in oranges, lemons, limes, spinach, and strawberries. We now know that high-dose Vitamin C infusions are being used in Wuhan China to speed recovery in COVID-19 sufferers.

Zinc is required for proper functioning of the immune system. It helps in the formation and development of vital immune cells like our natural killer cells and neutrophils. Studies have shown that zinc shortens the duration of the common cold and flu. Zinc can be found in pumpkin seeds, legumes, nuts, and animal proteins. If you take it as a supplement, please make sure to take it with a meal.

Other great immune system boosters include elderberry, which is a dark purple berry and is known for strengthening the immune system and helping to fight the common cold and other viral pathogens. Remember that natural products like elderberry do NOT lead to a cytokine storm as some have noted online - this only happens with potent prescription medications. Elderberry and other natural products help bring balance to the immune system, which is exactly what we want.

Keeping our detoxification system working properly is vital. Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants produced by the body and is vital for optimum liver detoxification. Glutathione helps protect the body from oxidative stress from dietary and environmental free radicals.

Add some anti-viral foods to your daily diet – garlic is awesome and best consumed raw to give a boost to the immune system when battling an infection, though adding it to salads or other foods as you’re cooking is also beneficial and helps balance the immune system. Similarly incorporating onions, ginger, oregano, and coconut oil to your diet are beneficial.

To boost your Vitamin C, I suggest taking 1,000 mg of a buffered Vitamin C twice daily for a few days and then kicking that dose up to 2,000 mg twice daily in addition to eating foods high in Vitamin C. Don’t forget your leafy green veggies and fruits for natural sources too!

5. Intermittent Fasting

Fasting doesn’t mean not eating at all, it means simply eating two or three meals a day without snacks. Not eating for more than 4 hours helps to induce a process in the body called Autophagy. Autophagy is the process where the body eliminates dead and damaged cells. If these cells are not efficiently removed by a normally functioning immune system, they can ultimately turn into a cancerous growth. Autophagy similarly helps the immune system eliminate bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

One effective and sustainable way to fast is by following the 16/8 eating regimen. During this type of intermittent fasting, you can eat during an 8-hour period of time every day and fast for the following 16. I do this many days and simply call it NOT EATING BREAKFAST! I eat lunch and dinner, then fast till lunch the next day - simple!

6. Medicinal Mushrooms

Chaga and Reishi are two medicinal mushrooms that are scientifically proven to keep the immune system strong. Both mushrooms are immunomodulators, meaning they “boost” the immune system when needed and they also slow it down when it is overactive - again a balancing effect. 

Chaga helps with the formation of beneficial cytokines that help to regulate the immune system. It also helps to stimulate white blood cells to fight off bacteria and viruses. Reishi helps to increase the activity of natural killer cells which helps to fight infections in the body. I personally take Reishi daily in a capsule form and drink Reishi fortified coffee.

7. Heat

Viruses don’t do well in the heat. That’s why our body develops a fever when we get an infection - it’s trying to fix the problem. Avoid Tylenol or Acetominophen as these decrease the fever and then need to be detoxified by your liver, using up your glutathione which we just told you is your most potent anti-oxidant and detoxifier.

So lay on the beach! If that isn’t possible, drink hot beverages and soups. Inhaling hot steam from these heats the nasal passages, helping to kill off the viral cells that may be lurking there.  Also think about an Infrared sauna which raises the core body temperature. Infrared sauna use also helps to increase the production of white blood cells your body needs to fight off pathogens. Your skin is your largest organ of detoxification, so sweating is a wonderful way to detoxify the body. Finally, sitting in a sauna also helps you feel more relaxed, so it reduces your cortisol!

8. Nasal Irrigation

Use a Neti-Pot or a nasal rinse bottle to clean the sinuses with saline. This washes out viral or bacterial pathogens, often preventing them from invading the mucous membranes. Adding a medical grade colloidal silver to your rinse, like Mesosilver, will also kill viral and bacterial pathogens. Adding a silver nasal spray to this regimen several times a day boosts this killing efficacy.

9. Handwashing

I saved this one for last as we should all know this already. Washing hands thoroughly (back, front, in between fingers and nails) with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is the best way to keep pathogens from hanging around and entering your body, and prevents spread to other surfaces or other people. 

The above tips will help you fortify your immune system and make you less susceptible to any pathogens that you may contact in your daily life.

If you have questions on these tips and other health questions, please visit our website at www.DrRohde.com .

If you have specific questions on infectious symptoms or Regenerative Medicine, you can contact us directly. Please feel free to email us at: HelpRenewMe@gmail.com

Dr. Thomas Rohde Dr. Thomas Rohde Anti-Aging and Functional & Regenerative Medicine Physician