I have seen many clients recently with poor functioning immune systems, or recurrent infections. There can be many reasons for a low functioning immune system, but it is unusual for me to see so many people with a cold or flu in the middle of summer here in Australia!
If you get a cold or flu, or any other infection, then it means that your immune system defences are not strong enough to protect you from that infection. So you need to do something about this!
Your immune system strength and function relies on many factors:
1) a good supply of nutrients to make your white blood cells and other immune system proteins, and having good levels of vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D and other essential nutrients for immune system function
2) A working digestive system function - as you can have the perfect diet, but if your digestive system isn't working well, you may not digest and absorb the nutrients you need
3) good quality and quantity sleep, which can repair damaged tissues and your immune system
4) a well-balanced microbiome - of helpful and symbiotic bacteria in your mucus membranes, digestive tract and on your skin
5) a well functioning thyroid gland (which is the controller of your metabolism or ALL cells in your body)
6) drinking enough water, needed to make and keep your mucus membranes moist to prevent infections.
Hence these are clues as to what you need to focus on for prevention of infections, or strengthening your immune system! In addition, there are factors which can affect immune system function:
1) Stress, which triggers the "flight or fight" stress response, and in turn reduces your digestive system function and immune system function (and other "normal" body functions) as these are not deemed as "essential for short-term survival", hence they do not work optimally in times of stress
2) Inflammation, which can be from many causes such as food intolerances, obesity, imbalance of your microbiome, stress, chronic infections, autoimmune conditions, toxins and chemicals (such as with the poor air quality in China)
3) Other chronic infections or assaults such as EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus, which causes glandular fever, and causes very long-term symptoms and immune system effects), CMV, HIV, and many other viral infections, or having an autoimmune condition, or having any other recent infection or illness.
4) Medications, such as antibiotics, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, immuno-suppressives and more. These all reduce or stop the immune system from working optimally.
Again, these are clues as to what to work on or reduce in order to having a well-functioning immune system!
There are many other things you can do to improve your immune system, for preventing or treating viral infections like coronavirus, such as:
1) nutritional supplements - to rectify deficiencies that affect immune system function, especially of vitamin C (with therapeutic doses being shown to be effective against coronavirus strains!), zinc, and vitamin D (a MASSIVE immune system booster, and when levels are low, this CAUSES colds and flu infections and outbreaks especially in winter!), and other nutrients too
2) probiotics - since your gut microbiome makes most of your immune system proteins, you can improve their production with an improved diet and specific probiotic strains
3) herbal supplements - many herbal extracts or supplements can not only boost your immune system, but can also offer anti-viral actions to directly kill the infection or stop it replicating or spreading around the body
4) practicing good hygiene - even washing of hands is very effective in killing microbes on your skin. Not touching your face, nose, mouth or eyes can prevent infection.
I cannot recommend specific nutrient or herbal supplements in this article, as checks for interactions with any medications is essential, other symptoms or conditions may need to be taken into account, and dosing will be different for different age groups. However this is something I can help with in a personalised consultation, or see an experienced Nutritionist, Naturopath or Herbalist for advice.
If you are concerned about coronavirus, or if you have frequent infections or a low immune system, there are many things you can do to improve your immune system function!