Despite the fact that the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) advocates a seasonal flu shot for everyone, the reality is that not everyone feels comfortable with this recommendation. I know that myself and many other health experts do not endorse widespread vaccination programs for the seasonal flu (as well as the H1N1 vaccine). Not getting a flu shot does not mean that you do not have any protection from the flu. When working properly, the immune system has a remarkable arsenal of weapons that have an enormous capacity to fight off the flu and common cold.
Key Steps to Boosting Your Immune System
- A healthy lifestyle is essential for immunity. Be sure to eat a healthy diet, get exercise, avoid toxins, maintain your appropriate body weight, and get enough sleep.
- Stress lowers immunity. Take steps to manage stress. Practice techniques to activate the relaxation response, such as breathing exercises, visualization, or meditation.
- Avoid refined sugars and saturated fats, but make sure you get plenty of quality protein and essential fatty acids.
- Take a high-quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. Vitamins C and E, B vitamins, zinc, and selenium are especially important.
- Boost your vitamin D levels.
- Take a clinically proven immune enhancing product.
One of the best researched immune enhancing products is Wellmune WGP – a a source of 1,3-1,6-beta-glucans derived from the cell walls of a highly purified, proprietary baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Once absorbed, Wellmune is taken up by specific white blood cells and digested into smaller fragments and slowly released over a number of days. The fragments then bind to other white blood cells and enhance their activity. As of September 2012, nine double-blind clinical studies have been conducted with Wellmune WGP demonstrating positive results in reducing the signs, symptoms, frequency, and duration of upper respiratory infections.
In one of the most recent studies conducted by researchers at the University of Houston and presented at the 2012 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, 182 runners who completed the 2011 LiveStrong Marathon in Austin, Texas were given either 250 mg of Wellmune or an identical placebo containing rice flour. It is common for runners to develop upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in the days and weeks following completion of a marathon. Based on previous physical stress studies with Wellmune WGP that indicated links between specific biomarkers and improved health, researchers believed that marathoners would benefit from enhanced immune function.
Subjects taking Wellmune experienced a 40% reduction in the number of days that they reported both general health problems and URTI symptoms compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, the Wellmune group reported 22% higher scores in vigor, 48% reduction in fatigue, 38% reduction in tension and a 38% reduction in confusion over the control groups. These results support other studies showing that Wellmune has a profound effect on enhancing the immune system, especially in counteracting stress-induced immune suppression.
Navalta JA, Carpenter KC, Breslin WL. et al. Baker’s yeast beta glucan supplementation reduces the number of cold/flu symptomatic days after completing a marathon. Presented at the American College of Sports Medicine 59th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA May 30, 2012