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Heather Auld, MD, on Fighting the Flu

Heather Auld, MDWhile hand washing is one of the most effective methods of warding off germs and viruses, our immune system is the body’s first line of defense against illnesses. Dr. Heather Auld, MD, an integrative medicine specialist with Lee Physician Group and a Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM), says there are several simple steps we can take to boost our immune system naturally, especially during the cold and flu season.

Here are Dr. Auld’s recommendations:

  • Don’t skimp on sleep. Sleep is essential for the body’s rejuvenation and replenishment. As a good foundation for optimal health, we should all get about seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Eat healthy. Good nutrition boosts the immune system. Because they’re rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that naturally stimulate the immune system, fruits and vegetables are especially important. In particular, Dr. Auld highly recommends Asian mushrooms, such as the shiitake and the maitake. One serving of these can actually boost the immune system for up to a week, she says.
  • Get moderate exercise. Be careful not to overdo it, Dr. Auld warns, because too much exercise can strain the immune system, and an overtaxed immune system can leave you vulnerable to illnesses.
  • Try natural remedies, such as extract of pelargonium, a plant indigenous to South Africa. For cold and flu season, Dr. Auld recommends that everyone keep pelargonium in their medicine cabinets. Sold under the brand name Umcka, pelargonium is safe to take, even for children, and generally doesn’t interact with other medications. Dr. Auld advises that we take pelargonium at the first sign of a cold or flu.
  • Don’t forget Vitamin D. Besides being a vitamin, Dr. Auld says, vitamin D is also a hormone that has more than 200 different sites of action in the human body.

The American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) endorses the efforts of Dr. Auld and other practitioners of integrative health care who use traditional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response. To learn more about the ABOIM, a Member Board of the ABPS, or for information about the principles of integrative medicine, contact the ABPS today.