It’s that time of year! Does it seem like everyone around you is getting sick? Winter is definitely a time of year that people are fighting different bugs. Remember the immune system is just that…a system that needs to be balanced in order to run its best.
How To Support Your Immune System
I am personally not a fan of the flu shot, so I want to do all I can to support my immune system in other ways, and encourage others to do the same. You can stay healthy this winter with these immune-boosting tips.
Stay away from foods you’re sensitive to
If your digestion isn’t working properly, chances are your immune system isn’t, either. Seventy to eighty percent of our immune system is found in our digestive tract so we need to make sure that we are doing all that we can to keep it healthy. A really good place to start is by eliminating the foods that you know you shouldn’t be eating.
A prolonged exposure to a sensitivity or allergen, for instance, gluten, can eventually cause what is known as “Leaky Gut.” This is a situation where there are small (or large, depending on the severity/length of exposure) holes in your intestinal lining that allow incompletely digested nutrients, toxins and bacteria to enter your bloodstream where they don’t belong, and start wreaking havoc on our immune system.
- Nature and Fresh Air – I know it is really hard thing to do when it is cold and wet (like here in the NW,) but we have to make an effort to get outside in the fresh air and talk a walk. There are so many health benefits to getting outside and connecting with nature! Walking in nature boosts immune system functioning, and can increase our body’s natural killer cells.
- Rebounding – If you just can’t bring yourself to go outside, the next best option is bouncing! The lymphatic system follows a similar path as our circulatory system (veins and arteries), but it doesn’t have a pump, like our heart, to move the fluid. Instead, it relies on muscle contraction; and what moves it best is BOUNCING! So rebounding, walking, general overall movement in the body helps get the lymph fluid flowing.
Use immune-boosting nutrients
- Garlic – Garlic has natural antiviral, antibiotic, and antifungal properties and it also boosts the immune system. It can be eaten raw, cooked in food, or taken in pill form to bolster the immune system, fight free radicals, and detoxify the body (among many other things.) Especially during this time of year, we should be adding it to everything. When you start feeling sick, increasing the amount of garlic you ingest is extremely beneficial.
- Ginger – Ginger is a potent immune booster. Fresh ginger root has been regarded as a healing food for centuries and ginger tea is one of my favorite drinks in the winter. Ginger can help clear up congestion and may contain antibacterial compounds.
- Bone-broth – Try and drink a cup of this powerful immune booster every day. Bone broth can fight infections common with cold and flu viruses and is also helpful to heal leaky gut which leads to immune issues. I like to sip on some throughout the day, but it is also great to incorporate into meals such as soups and stews. My favorite is to make soup, adding dark, leafy greens and loads of vegetables.
- Miso Soup – Made from fermented soybeans, it contains “good” bacteria for a healthy gut. Look for organic brands found in the refrigerated section of your health food store.
If you want to flush out toxins you need to drink water. Keep in mind that coffee, alcohol, and sugar are all dehydrating. If you want something warm, try some ginger tea or chamomile tea.
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation can have the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness. Sleep is essential for our health and healing. Not getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night greatly interrupts normal biology, as our body does a lot of repairs and healing at night.
The days are shorter now, and the body naturally wants to be sleeping more…so give in. This can make all the difference in the world when it comes to keeping our immune system healthy in the winter. Adequate rest is also vital for a quicker recovery from an illness like the flu.
Nothing impairs immune function like stress. We have to continue to work on getting into and staying in a parasympathetic state. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and other stress reduction activities on a daily basis can help.
Eliminate the sugar
Sugar lowers the immune system. Now that the holidays are over make sure that there are no more temptations. Nothing shuts down our immune system like sugar – when we eat sugar we are using lots of vitamins and minerals to process and metabolize the stuff. When those minerals such as zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and others are depleted even more than normal, it leaves our immune system wide open for attack. That also includes eating too much fruit.
Make sure that you are not skipping or forgetting your targeted supplements. I also like to keep a few other natural alternatives on hand during this time of year, even though I don’t use them on a regular basis:
- Colloidal Silver – When used properly, colloidal silver can prevent or eliminate the flu. It is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral.
- Echinacea – The herb has antiviral properties and will help to reduce the symptoms of the flu or other illness. It also helps boost the immune system in order to prevent the flu. This herb can be taken as a tea as well as in other forms.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant and an antiviral.
- Zinc – When symptoms of the flu begin, take zinc immediately in order to cut down on the length of sickness. Zinc can also reduce the severity of symptoms, and is very effective for fighting viruses. Don’t forget you can even get zinc in a lozenge.
- Vitamin A – It strengthens mucous membranes and has other positive effects on the immune response, so it is helpful for many infections of all kinds.
- Bee Propolis – Honey isn’t the only thing that bees make. They also produce a compound called propolis from the sap of trees. When they combine the sap with their own discharge and beeswax, they create a sticky, greenish-brown product that is used as a coating to build their hives. Propolis can be used for medicinal properties and is used for medical purposes, which include fighting infections and boosting the immune system.
Diffuse essential oils
Diffusing essential oils in your home can also be a great way to support and boost your immune system. When they are introduced into the air in vapor form, the organic compounds within the oils come into direct contact with airborne pathogens before they can invade your body. I personally love diffusing Thieves essential oil blend for supporting our immune system as well as removing nasty odors in our house.
Having everything shut up tight to keep the cold and winter out sometimes doesn’t lend itself well to a house that smells good. Even with all these immune boosting tips, if you do get sick then embrace it and honor yourself. Your body is telling you to slow down! This is the time to spend a couple of days in bed and let the infection run its course. Don’t try and push it when your body is telling you that it needs rest. Take the time you need and you will be stronger in the long run.
For any cold or flu that persists for more than several days, seeing your physician for further diagnosis is recommended. The New Year is a great time of year to get started in keeping yourself healthy. If you are trying to implement dietary and lifestyle changes this year, I would love to help you! Get Started with a Complimentary Call.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not to be construed as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition. These statements made have not been approved by the FDA, nor should they be taken as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed physician.
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