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Dr. Mao, Santa Monica, Health And Fitness

Three Ways to Bump Up Your Immune System

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Nov. 10, 2013, 9:31 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

‘Tis the season for holiday fun, sweets... and sniffles! As the days get shorter and the outdoor temperatures start to dip, our immune system requires an extra boost to keep up with all the change.

Whether we like it or not, we must face the fact that during the holiday season, we become more susceptible to catching colds and the flu. With all of the controversy surrounding the flu vaccine and its possible side effects, you may choose other routes of natural defense.

Here are some essential tips to give your body that much needed immune boost to keep you healthy and strong so you can enjoy all of the upcoming holiday cheer!

1. Be A Sleeping Beauty

Living in a digital age filled with active social media, we seem to always be turned on. Do you find yourself checking your phone first thing upon waking, or perhaps your laptop follows you to bed?

Too little rest and too much mental stress can cause havoc on the body and increase output of the stress hormone cortisol, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay sound asleep during the night.

While we all require different hours of sleep, research consistently shows that 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is necessary to repair our tissues and  maintain a healthy immune system, and it helps us feel refreshed and looking our best. Sleep deprivation is a surefire way to weaken your immunity and make you more susceptible to infections.

Try to make a habit of shutting off your phone and not keeping it by your bedside when you go to sleep.

Remove all digital toys, keep your bedroom dark, and perhaps sip on some chamomile tea a half hour before bedtime to help calm you.

Work on prepping your mind and body for rest instead of stimulating them.

Avoid heavy meals and strenuous exercise before bed and refrain from watching movies and news that might cause unnecessary anxiety.

It’s called beauty sleep for a reason—so indulge in delicious dreams to wake up looking and feeling revitalized.

Bonus Tip: Try a relaxing meditation to help you relax and ease into sleep with my Meditation for Emotional Detoxification CD.

2. Boost Your Vitamin D

As the days get shorter, so too does the amount of time we spend in sunlight. The sunshine doesn’t feel as strong, and even when the sun does shine, the cold temperature might drive us to stay indoors.

Unfortunately, this deprives us of a major immune-boosting vitamin D. While vitamin D is essential to bone health, recent studies show its association with immune health. It’s not a coincidence that most colds and flus occur during the fall and winter months when we receive less sunshine. Those individuals living in temperate climates are often more susceptible.

So what can you do if the sun doesn’t shine in your neck of the woods? Make sure to eat vitamin D-enriched foods, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, button and shiitake mushrooms and egg yolks. You may also choose to take a vitamin D supplement. To know if you are vitamin D deficient, ask you doctor to run a blood test to see if supplementation is right for you.

3. Shake Up Your Immunity With Greens

Drink your daily flu shot by making a green shake using antioxidant-rich greens like kale, beet greens, dandelion greens and Swiss chard. Chock full of flu-fighting phytonutrients, they will boost your immune system and energy. Add some spirulina or chlorella, berries, ginger and lemon to your shake and stay energized the whole day.

If drinking your greens isn’t your cup of tea, make sure to add them to your meals. Try this lean, mean green fighting flu machine recipe!

Flu-Fighting Green Machine

1 handful organic kale

1 cup organic mixed berries

1 teaspoon spirulina

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 inch fresh ginger

1/2 fresh organic lemon with peel and seeds

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post.  Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey.  To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter, visit

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