The late and early months of each year seem to be when more of us catch colds and come down with the flu. With the holiday stress (both physically from bad food and mentally), and building high expectations for the new year, this is about the time when our immune system starts to crash and symptoms begin to show. So what measures can you take to ensure you don’t use up your sick days and are left with a nasty cold or flu?
I have come up with a list of 10 immune enhancing tips that you can easily follow all year long!
1. Nutrient dense, properly prepared diet- Limit sugar intake!
This of course has to be number one. If you don’t pay attention to your diet, you can forget about trying to feel good and staying healthy. Sugar, refined oils, processed and adulterated foods, as well as grains and legumes that have not been properly soaked and sprouted, all weaken the immune system.
Just a few grams of sugar can destroy your white blood cells’ ability to resist infections!
Non- organic food is filled with toxins and GMO’s, making your liver work harder and making your body less efficient. It can even destroy your gut flora (Check it out here)! Since 80% of our immunity is in our gut, putting high quality food in us is of utmost importance. Also, eat more Garlic and Onions! Besides being rich in antioxidants, selenium, and sulfur, garlic is antibacterial and antiviral.
2. Bone Broth/ Stock
There is some truth about chicken soup’s medicinal properties. Bone broth is an easy, satisfying and comforting way during the cold months to ensure we are getting an abundance of minerals. Most Americans are deficient in minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, and calcium. If we are not growing our own food, most commercial food, including produce, is lacking these essential nutrients. There is a catch though, it must be homemade! No store bought versions!
This is a chicken bone broth recipe adapted from Sally Fallon’s cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.
- 1 whole chicken OR 2 to 3 pounds of chicken parts & bones (It’s always recommended you use organic, free range (eat grass and bugs, can roam around and see sunlight) and preferably from local farmers. The taste and nutrition profile are completely different. If coming from a local farm, make sure they are using organic supplemental feed). Necks and leftover bones — you can also use bones from ducks, turkeys, geese, or hens)
- Gizzards (if you have some — optional)
- 2-4 chicken feet (optional, but best if you can find them. They make for an even richer mineral filled broth)
- 4 quarts filtered water- not tap!
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar- helps to pull minerals from bones)
- 1 large yellow or white onion, quartered
- 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
- 3 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
- 1 bunch parsley or cilantro (optional, but produces great flavor!)
Stock pot (enamel or stainless steel — not aluminum)
1 mesh strainer
1. Place chicken (or duck, goose, turkey, or Cornish game hen) parts and bones into stock pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley.
2 Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top.
4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for a minimum of 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the more flavor and nutrition it will have. I leave mine cooking for 24 hours.
5. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley for extra minerals.
6. Remove bones with a slotted spoon. Discard.
7. Strain the stock into glass jars or and let cool to touch on the counter.
8. Store in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, until the fat rises to the top and congeals.
9. Skim off the fat with a spoon and store it in your fridge or freezer to use in cooking. Pour the stock into ice cube trays and freeze.
10. Pop the cubes out of the trays and store in Ziploc bags or Tupperware in your freezer.
3. Fermented Cod Liver Oil
This is one supplement you do not want to skip on. Rich in essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins A and D… the perfect immune protector and natural anti-inflammatory! Even better is a butter oil blend from Green Pastures.
4. Fermented Foods and Veggies/ Probiotics
These super foods nourish you gut, gives protection and fights against bacteria and viral causing pathogens. When eaten with sweeter meals or snacks, fermented foods help to digest these sugars and stop cravings. A must at every meal, but especially during these winter months when we need to replenish our bacteria from the overload of sugar consumption. Your body contains ten times more bacteria than cells. The majority of them have to be friendly/ good bacteria. These attack pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but also trigger appropriate white cell reactions to invaders. We need to have these as staples in our diet: Raw milk and raw cheese (for those who can tolerate dairy), yogurt, fermented and cultured veggies, water kefir/ milk kefir. Probiotic supplements can be very therapeutic if replenishment is needed, but getting them through the diet will help with maintenance. If you’re forced into taking antibiotics, double up with theses probiotic supplements that I recommend.
Colostrum is Mother Nature’s “First Food”, also known as, the “immune milk” produced by all mammals for only the first few hours before and after birth. Supercharged with 97 immune factors and 87 growth factors, Colostrum is nature’s “first food”. Its adaptogenic properties have been known to enhance rejuvenation and regeneration while strengthening the immune system. It is widely known for its potent anti-aging benefits and broad spectrum probiotics in its whole food form.
This is an fascinating 2-month treatment that was done with oral Colostrum for the prevention of flu episodes compared with anti-influenza vaccination: PMID: 17456621 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] For a high quality Colostrum that tastes great and is superior in nutritional quality CLICK HERE
6. Vitamins C and D
Most Americans are extremely deficient in Vit D. This extremely important Vitamin is made in our bodies with the exposure of sunlight, so if you are not exposed to the sun year around, you need to make sure and supplement or find a safe UVB tanning bed to help make the conversion of D3 in your body. One of the best ways to boost Vit D levels is through sun exposure… UVB exposure that is. This is the best way to prevent overdosing or malabsorption issues. This does wonders for depression and seasonal effectiveness disorder. Vitamin D regulates over 2000 genes in your body, therefore a sufficient amount of Vit D is an integral part to staying disease free. It aids in weight control and prevents obesity, counteracts hypertension-keeps vascular system healthy, ensures optimal absorption of calcium, helpful in autoimmune diseases, crohn’s, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1&2 diabetes and even cancer. It helps keep us safe from colds, flu and heart disease, as well as slows down the aging process, lowers inflammatory markers in the body, and aids in the healing process. Any serious disease needs Vit D. If your regional climate restricts sun exposure, take your Vitamin D3 supplements. You can check your Vitamin D3 blood levels, but many experts recommend five to ten thousand units daily if deficient.
Vitamin C is protective, boosts immunity, is a natural anti-inflammatory and in large quantities, curative. Zinc is also a helpful mineral for protecting against colds. Increase both with the right foods and supplements.
7. Limit alcohol intake
Large amounts of alcohol can stress your liver and congest it, making it work harder to detoxify all the other toxins and “garbage” it needs to send out of the body. It also interferes with the functions of many of the cells and molecules that are part of the immune function, such as the cells that ingest and destroy invading microorganisms (i.e., neutrophils, monocytes, and macrophages). Heavy drinkers are more susceptible to diseases caused by bacterial infections and immune suppression that occurs after traumatic injuries. Alcohol also feeds yeast in your body and allows it to take over, exasperating conditions like candida or any overgrowth of bad bacteria (dysbiosis). Limit yourself to a drink a day if you feel the need, preferably a glass of red wine containing resveratrol.
If you are not getting quality sleep, chances are your health is suffering because of it. You may not need necessarily more, but better. Make sure where you sleep is completely dark so your melatonin production will be sufficient. Pull down the curtains, turn off the computer, TV, alarm clock and any electronic device that may have a light, or better yet do not keep these in your bedroom. The Electromagnetic interference from these devices will also effect sleep cycles.I sleep with a grounding mat to help cancel out the radiation when I sleep. I typically wake up groggy and still tired, but using it constantly makes me wake up with energy. It’s pretty amazing! There are supplements, but I don’t recommend them unless you have tried diet and lifestyle changes first; these are much safer and more effective. The different phases of sleep contain two cycles that are deep enough to refurbish your immune system. You need to sleep through them to gain the benefits and wake up feeling great!
9. Reduce Your Stress Level
Aside from our standard American diet, stress is one of the biggest causes for decreased immunity. Learn how to take control of your reactions, emotions and the way you deal with stressful events and situations. Be appreciative and grateful for what you have. Get grounded, laugh more, be less critical of yourself and others and don’t take life so seriously. Yoga and meditation can do wonders to help relieve built up stress, give it a try!
Not only will exercise help with stress, it also helps helps to cleanse your body and therefore increase immunity. The body’s lymph system only works if the body is in motion, so you need to get moving to rid those toxins! Long intense workouts can actually lower immunity, especially if a good diet is not in place. A rebounder, is what I use and recommend to anyone looking to stimulate their lymphatic system as well as get a great workout from a cellular level, no other workout can do that!
Make sure you work with a nutritionist when exercise becomes demanding on the body. You need to make sure you can support how you want your body to perform. Mindful practices such as qi gong, tai chi, pilates, and yoga are excellent for building and balancing mind and body.
Looking for more information on how to nourish your whole body, including your metabolism? The Nourished Metabolism is a wonderful read with great information to help balance your diet, stress, and the impact it has on your metabolism.
4 Things You’ll Learn that Will Change Your Life…
- Health starts with your metabolism. But if your diet and lifestyle don’t support your metabolic health, you’ll be left feeling tired, moody, and stressed–and wondering why all this “healthy” advice you’re following isn’t working for you!
- Find out which hidden causes of stress are ruining your metabolic health, and learn how you can reduce or counteract these sources of stress.
- Learn how digestion, sleep, and exercise are all connected to your metabolism, and learn which small changes can make a big difference in your health.
- Find out how to listen to your body’s biofeedback so you know what works for you. This is not about following an arbitrary plan–it’s about learning what works for your body!
Download a copy instantly here and start nourishing your body from the inside out.