10 Tips to Boost Your Immune System
The weather is cooling and you know what that means. Schedules are off and running just as quickly as school children's noses. What can you do to make sure your family doesn't catch every cold that sneezes by? Take it from someone whose never had a flu shot; the immune system is your best defense! Here are 10 tips to boost your immune system.
10 Tips to Boost Your Immune System
1. Avoid excess sugar - as described by progressive health, sugar destroys the immune system and simultaneously feeds the bad bugs that are making you sick. Starve them and watch those colds die off much quicker.
2. Eat your vegetables - vegetables act as pre-biotics feeding the good bacteria or probiotics in the large intestine, which is where the majority of the immune system lies. The vitamins and minerals in vegetables are more effective than taking vitamins because plant foods are naturally balanced with the nutrients and the cofactors we need to digest those nutrients. A vitamin is like a broken watch, all of the components may be there, but it may not be working together.
3. Avoid simple carbs - chips, pastas, crackers, and bread make the brain feel high and great, but deprives the body of any nutrition. Simple carbs feed the bad bugs similar to sugar and destroy the probiotics in the large intestine. If you have any signs of leaky gut, gluten and hydrogenated oils can cause allergic reactions and wear out the immune system.
4. SLEEP! - probably the most important step after what you eat is how much you sleep. When the body is fighting a bug, it needs to be in bed, resting, and restoring energy for a healthy immune system. If we push through the symptoms, the body will produce more cortisol to survive in fight or flight mode. A body heals best in a relaxed parasympathetic state.
5. Avoid antibiotics - unless you have a bacterial infection that demands antibiotics, these harmful drugs wipe out your entire immune system. Treating a minor ear infection or small cold with a full blown antibiotic is like bombing a country to kill one terrorist. Instead of killing a virus, an antibiotic will wipe out your natural defense system and allow the antibiotic resistant bugs to come back with a vengeance. See Chris Kresser's article "The High Price of Antibiotic Use," to see what other damage they may cause.
6. Make bone broths - grandma knew to make chicken soup, but did she know that it carried all of the important vitamins and minerals necessary to build a healthy immune system? Calcium, magnesium, and zinc from the bones, collagen, and amino acids to rebuild healthy cells, and fats to escort the waste out of the body. Try this delicious bone broth Tomato Soup my kids beg for.
7. Eat Seasonally - fruit doesn't grow in winter, tastes like paper in the stores, and costs a fortune to travel from places where it is in season. Save money and look for what's in abundance. Winter fruits are pomegranates, persimmons, and mandarines with concentrated vitamin C and smaller doses of fructose sugars to feed the bad bugs. Limit your fruit but fill your plate with root vegetables, and winter greens.
8. Avoid OTC suppressants - when the immune system detects an invader, it does a great job trying to remove it: coughing, sneezing, runny nose, diarrhea, vomit, etc. Why on earth would you want to suppress removing the invader and plug it up inside your body? Rest at home, help your body remove the bug, and your colds will pass by more quickly.
9. Exercise - studies show that any enjoyable form of exercise is sufficient. It's better when it does't over stress the body, but at least 20 minutes a day should be spent outside, breathing fresh air, and moving your body enough to sweat and flush out unwanted toxins.
10. Hydration - Drinking soups and teas in the winter is a great way to increase your water intake. Be careful when you celebrate the holidays to follow each decadent drink with a tall glass of water. Carbonated drinks and juices are dehydrating and do NOT count towards your water intake. Your goal should be half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. Here are some of my favorite medicinal teas.
Don't stress too much if you catch a little winter cold. The immune system takes this time to challenge itself, fight back, and support your amazing body. Treat your body right, take advantage of the message to rest, stay at home so you don't get others sick, aid the immune system in removing the foreign bug, and you'll be back up in no time.