Boosting immunity with food, superfoods, herbs & tonics. . .
No matter the season, keeping our immune systems healthy is crucial for a well functioning body. Our immune systems protect us, and when out of balance can fail at keeping us safe from illness and may often turn on us and begin to attack our own bodies. Not only are our immune systems affected by the foods we choose to eat, but they may also become weakened by outside stressors; excessive work, financial problems, strenuous exercise, and change in environment can all cause imbalances in the immune system and affect overall health.
Here are some important ways we can assist in boosting our immunity. From food, to self-care, herbs and tonics… I hope you can start to add some of these tips into your life.
- Eat whole nutrient dense foods. Ask yourself if it is going to heal your body or harm your body.
- Eat organic. Eat locally. Buy direct and locally to ensure the food is fresh, nutrient dense and nourishes your body. Remember, eating seasonally means eating a variety of nutrients in rotation :)
- Eat non GMO. The top GMO foods are soy, corn, canola, cotton, zucchini, potatoes and sugar beets (what most sugar is made from). This means that all commercial cooking oils are GMO. It has now been proven that GMO foods are allergenic, toxic, carcinogenic, anti-nutritional and suppress immunity.
- Eat low glycemic High sugar foods decrease your natural immunity. Which means less ability to protect yourself.
- Vitamin D. For most of the year you will need to take a minimum of 2000IU per day from D3. When the sun shines less, be more aware of your D levels!
- Body brushing. Helps to stimulate your lymphatic system, which plays a key role in immunity!
- Rest and de-stress. Watch for adrenal fatigue or burnout. Making time for yourself via downtime, cat-naps or more time for F-U-N is super important. Do not dismiss YOURSELF!
- Water. Do I need to say more?
- Fresh fruits and vegetables = antioxidants!
- Cruciferous Vegetables = Fiber to assist in detoxification!
- Herbs and Spices (garlic, onions, turmeric/curry, ginger, cayenne). Ginger, turmeric and cayenne have been known to reduce inflammation and increase circulation.
- Mushrooms (maitake, shiitake, whites, portabellas, oyster and crimini). Mushrooms contain selenium, potassium, Vitamin D, B Vitamins and beta glucans that are all great for your immune system.
- Sea Vegetables are rich in minerals and contain highest concentration of calcium, of any food.
- Fermented Foods – because GOOD bacteria needs to be present to out number the bad guys!
- Probiotics. May play an important role in keeping a healthy gut. And if you have had to use any antibiotics – probiotics are key in replacing and rebuilding the digestive tract! Talk to your health care practitioner to determine which strain is best for you.
- Proteins – Rotation of all high quality proteins helps to build muscles and keep a strong lean body!
- Fats – cold pressed polyunsaturated oils, as well as fish oil supplements all are important for the immune system and brain and neurological function.
- Antivirals like Oregano Oil*, Olive Leaf Extract, Curcumin, Cat’s Claw, St. John’s Wort, Garlic, Astragalus, Grapefruit Seed Extract are all great to take when you’ve encountered a nasty virus. If you’ve developed a bacterial infection then antibacterials like goldenseal, olive leaf extract, myrrh and many others can help to reduce the number of bacteria so your body can fight it.
- Expectorants to use when you have congestion or a bronchial/lung infection include mullein, peppermint, elecampane, eucalyptus, plantain, marshmallow and thyme. You can use essential oils of eucalyptus and thyme in a steam bath and breathe them in to help clear sinuses. These herbs are also available in tincture to take internally or as dried herbs to make a tea.
- Sore throats benefit from slippery elm lozenges that will sooth and coat your throat. Slippery elm is a demulcent and will form a protective layer over inflamed mucous membranes.
- Cough syrups contain expectorant, antispasmodic and demulcent herbs to help reduce coughing spasms, reduce mucous and soothe inflamed tissues. There are many to choose from.
- Homeopathic remedies are specific for symptoms and there may be a different remedy for each person. If you get the right remedy for your specific symptoms then they work very well and quite quickly. Ocillococcinum is a homeopathic combination remedy that will cover several flu symptoms.
*Please take caution when using oregano oil. It is very potent and may cause allergic reactions and rashes. Not intended for children.
Taking a flight? Try Four Thieves Synergy Blend Essential Oil! A combination of essential oils designed to protect you and deflect bacteria trying to enter through your respiratory tract. A few drops on a tissue, placed close to your nose and breathed in throughout your flight will help to protect you from the circulating germs in the airplane.
Rotating in some of these tips to your daily routine, will help you to ensure you keep your immune system balanced and healthy. Oh, and don’t forget the importance of resting. Quality sleep, meditation and even afternoon naps are super immune boosters as well.