Q: Now that it’s fall, I’m worried that I’ll get my annual case of bronchitis. The last couple of winters I’ve had pretty serious bronchitis and always wind up on multiple rounds of antibiotics. Do you have any suggestions to help me avoid bronchitis this winter?
A: A weak, compromised immune system is the underlying cause of respiratory infections which include colds and bronchitis. Start now to bolster your immune function by making a few dietary and lifestyle changes. Consume a whole foods diet (no processed foods) and increase your intake of specific vegetables which according to Traditional Chinese Medicine boost immune function. These vegetables include: garlic, onions, cabbage, beets, shitake mushrooms, carrots and yams. Avoid dairy products which can promote excessive mucus in the respiratory tract. Take one thousand milligrams of vitamin C with bioflavonoids daily. Minimize stress and try to get at least eight hours of sleep nightly – adequate sleep creates an increase in white blood cells which boosts immune function. Have no more than one alcohol or one caffeine-containing drink daily – both alcohol and caffeine in excess weaken immune function. And, of course, if you smoke, stop! Smoking dramatically weakens the function of the respiratory tract.