NAVIGATING THROUGH COLD AND FLU SEASON NATURALLY
Preventing illness and doing so naturally has always been important to me. More so now, that I am the mother of twins. I had enough of the episodes where one of us would get sick and it would pass through this family of four. It would mean a week or so of missed school, work, exercise, etc and when we would recover we would come back to overwhelm and the stressful game of catch-up. Many have told me it is inevitable once you have kids you will all be sick all the time. “Just give them all the flu shot.” I have chosen against the flu shot. What I did want to do, was boost our immune systems naturally so when faced with viruses or bacteria that cause illness we would fight it off naturally or recover quickly from it. To me that is health. Despite our annual travel during the holiday season including a cross-country flight in what seems to be a germ filled fuselage none of us get “the flu shot”. But I will tell you what we do. And it works! We rarely get sick and if one of us does it no longer means we all do. I attribute this to Good Clean Health.
Here is my guide to boosting our family’s immune system. I hope it is useful to you! It has been compiled from personal experience and expertise from the leading physicians in Integrative Medicine, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Mercola, and Dr. Lipman. Here is to a happy, healthy holiday season.
1) Boosting your immune system with fruits and veggies. I hate to break it to you “airborne” users. But you can’t cram nutrients into your body especially those from an artificial source. In other words, you can’t eat crappy day in and day out and then pop an airborne before you board the plane and think you are covered. You need to eat well and include a variety of foods with micronutrients so that your body always has the nutrition it needs for a well functioning immune system. Also, be aware that sugar and processed foods dramatically decrease your immune function. So lay of the white stuff and go for a rainbow of colors on your plate. Dr. Fuhrman has identified the most immune strengthening foods and he has created an acronym which helps us to remember them.
GOMBBS: Which stands for: Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Beans and Seeds? So use this as your guide and plan meals and snacks with an abundance of these immune enhancing foods.
Nutrients are most absorbable and bio-available when they come from whole foods.
This is the single most important factor in Super Immunity. So get your juicing, green smoothies, salads and soup on!
2) Exercise. This is the time of year where days get shorter and nights get longer and it can pose a challenge to fit in exercise. But, exercising is a crucial factor in a healthy immune system. Exercise increases the amount of cells in your body that respond to viruses and bacteria. It also helps avoid the ubiquitous holiday weight gain and helps manage stress that also peaks this time of year. NIKE puts it so well “just do it”.
3) Sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep. While we sleep our bodies are repairing and restoring themselves. Your immune system is most primed with adequate amounts of sleep.
4) Manage your stress. Stress increases our cortisol levels and drains our bodies of vital energy. With high cortisol levels our bodies are in a constant fight mode so when it is called upon to fight an invasion it cannot respond optimally. Perform self-care; engage in time doing things that relax you. Practice yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and time with loved ones, exercise or do something that rejuvenates you.
5) Wash your hands. Wash your hands with regular soap not antibacterial soap. It is very important to wash your hands but not to be obsessive about it. Washing your hands too much will dry them out and make transmission of viruses much easier. Using anti-bacterial soaps increase the risk of creating resistant bacteria and are loaded with toxins. Old-fashioned soap and warm water are the way to go.
6) Vitamin D. Found to be VERY important in an optimally functioning immune system. It is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent. Why? Let me take you back to biology class for a moment because, it increases the effectivness of major immunity players including macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes and natural killer cells. Vitamin D is responsible for forming the antimicrobial peptides that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. Vitamin D is appropriate for children, the elderly and those who are pregnant. There are no significant dietary sources of vitamin D so you need to get it from supplementation or from being in the sun. In order to know how much supplementation of D you need you can have your levels checked and ask your doctor to advise you on the dosing.
7) Zinc. A deficiency in zinc leads to dysfunction of the immune system therefore, increased susceptibility to infection. Keep zinc levels optimal to fight off infection. Foods highest in zinc include: oysters, Alaska king crab, Grass-fed top sirloin ground beef and vegetarian options include: raw sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and adzuki beans.
8) Probiotics. A strong immune system is heavily relatiant on a healthy gut. Probiotics are essential to a healthy ecosystem that keeps digestion and immune responses optimal. It is important to minimize or avoid eating sugars and nutritionally void foods which strip your natural flora. You can also take a high quality probiotic with 10-20 billion organisms daily according to Dr. Lipman. Or, eat a diet rich in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, komubucha and kefir.
9) Herbal supplements. Certain supplements have shown to have antiviral properties. These include: oregano oil and olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, elderberry extract and propolis (a bee resin). Other herbs which can be found in teas and have shown to combat colds and flu are: elderflower, yarrow, boneset, echinacea, linden, peppermint and ginger. Use one or several of these in combination, prophylactically, and especially if you will be spending time in high-traffic areas such as airports, malls and theaters.
We need to remember we will get sick from time to time. Health is not the absence of getting sick but a decreased frequency of getting sick and the ability to recover fairly quickly when you do because your body is equipped to launch an appropriate immune response. I hope these guidelines help you and your family have a happy, healthy and Good Clean holiday season. Share this so your friends and loved ones can experience Good Clean Health!
Spread the Good Clean Health love to someone you know. As always, I encourage comments and questions. I am committed to guiding us to a life abundant in health and happiness.