Our amazing bodies are not made for sickness or debilitating disease. They are made to stay healthy and strong.
With a billion colds hitting the U.S. every year, it becomes a challenge to make sure we are in fighting form to escape these dreaded viruses and bacteria. As much as modern medicine can help us when needed, it’s up to us to try and maintain good health by enhancing our immune systems naturally.
Why does one person gets sick after being exposed to germs and another doesn’t? When your system is functioning well and your immune system is in balance, it protects you against most parasites, bacteria and microbes from getting in. But once your system is depleted or down, it leaves the door wide open.
THE POWER OF PLANTS
Try the following strategies to help boost your immune system naturally each and every day. Make every bite count that goes in your mouth. A body that is fighting malnutrition with a diet of soda, alcohol, processed and fast foods and refined sugars instead of foods that are fresh, alive and naturally colorful, will leave you inflamed and opened to infection.
Dump the junk and eat like a rabbit – Load up on your fruits, vegetables and high nutrient foods to boost your immune system with the power of plants, such as kiwi, broccoli, red peppers, papaya, strawberries, cauliflower, pineapple and Brussels Sprouts. They are nutrient dense, high in vitamin C, so vital for our organs, skin, blood and energy, and will help fight off infection all season long.
Hydrate – We always hear how important drinking water is, but did you know that drinking plenty of clean water will help strengthen your immune system by ensuring that your blood will carry oxygen to your cells and flush out unwanted toxins? Water also hydrates your eyes and mouth to flush out dust, debris and infection. Water helps with the digestive system so you can digest your food properly, absorbs nutrients and keeps you regular. It also helps relieve insomnia because the brain needs water to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite and sleep. Remember, water is water—not tea, coffee, juice or other liquids—so drink up that clear, clean water.
Boost your gut with probiotics – Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to those good micro-organisms found in your gut (the gastro-intestinal or GI tract) and, with 500 bacterial species living there, these good guys have multiple benefits to our immune system. When these are abundant in our bodies, it is harder for the bacteria that cause illness to get a grip. Your gut is where your immune system wants to thrive, facilitate digestion, absorb nutrients and keep your daily energy (up to 10 percent) going strong. Since 70 percent of our immune system comes from our gut, we want to keep it healthy and happy.
Ditch the Dairy – If you are on the verge of, or battling the flu or a cold, it is a good idea to eliminate this food group. Many find an increase in, or are unable to decrease cold, flu and mucus symptoms while eating or drinking dairy. Don’t be surprised if you also find a few other symptoms diminishing as well when you ditch the dairy. Allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anemia, skin irritations, inflammation, constipation, headaches, sinus issues, GI difficulties and many other health-related issues that stem from dairy products.
Sleep – Your immune system needs sleep and downtime to keep healthy. Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Clean Hands – Wash your hands frequently to keep your risk for infection down by 25 percent. People frequently touch their eyes, nose and mouth without realizing it. These are the pathways in which germs are transmitted into our body. By washing with warm water and soap, or if that isn’t available, some anti-bacterial gel, you will keep yourself, as well as others, less at risk for infection.
Exercise – By keeping your body moving through moderate exercise you help your immune system fight off simple bacteria and viral infections. You also decrease your chances for developing heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer. Exercise slows down those stress-related hormones, sends antibodies or white blood cells (defense cells) through your body at a quicker rate, and may even help flush bacteria and bad toxins out of the body through sweat and urine. Take that brisk walk, bike, golf or hit the gym.
WE ARE WHAT WE EAT
Try adding these food immune boosters to help you and your immune system during the cold season and all year long.
Cruciferous vegetables—Kale, broccoli, lettuce and cabbage support the liver and immune function by boosting the liver’s ability to flush out toxins. This is a must when battling an onslaught of bacteria. More than 600 studies have been done on cancer and the beneficial effects of these incredible vegetables with astounding results. Cruciferous vegetables are naturally high in vitamins, nutrients, phyto-nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These are truly a “Whole Body” support food group and one you should never live without.
Ginger—According to Ayurvedic tradition, ginger warms the body and helps break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, particularly in the lungs and sinuses. Ayurveda also believes that ginger helps to cleanse the lymphatic system, our body’s sewage [WASTE REMOVAL] system.
Japanese Mushrooms—Whatever variety you choose—enoki, shitake or oyster— Japanese mushrooms are a great immunity booster. They are also loaded with ergothioneine, a naturally occurring amino acid and a powerful antioxidant that is not destroyed during the cooking process. “Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection,” says Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC.
Garlic and Onions—The potent onion family contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection, bacteria and has numerous antiseptic and immunity-boosting compounds. Garlic also helps clogged sinuses.
Tea—According toa Harvard study, people who drank five cups a day of black tea for two weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink. The amino acid, L-theanine, that’s responsible for this immune boost, is abundant in both black and green tea—decaf versions have it, too.Ginger tea also acts as an antihistamine and decongestant.
Honey—Honey has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria,] and fungi. Don’t use the common clover honey that you’ll find in the supermarket as it has the lowest antioxidant level. Look for buckwheat honey, which has the highest. I also like to use raw honey, as it has not been heated and contains all its natural vitamins and living enzymes.
Citrus—Numerous studies on the powerhouse that is Vitamin C have shown that cold symptoms have been reduced by 23 percent by eating and supplementing your diet with 1000-8000 Mg of Vit C. Some C-powerhouse foods are citrus fruits, papaya, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, butternut squash, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Avocados—Avocados aid your adrenals, one of the main supporters of your immune system. They also contain essential amino acids, antioxidants and some healthy fat that helps balance hormone production. Try half a cup a day.
Our immune system is a “system,” not a single entity. Our body and its amazing protection mechanism is complex and fascinating. Every day researchers are learning more about our immune system and how it works. By incorporating and becoming aware of our lifestyle, food and what our body truly needs—and wants—we will be able to keep our system strong, energized and ready to be healthier and more balanced this coming year.
Enjoy a Healthy and Happy New Year!
Lisa Fallon Mindel is a qualified holistic health and nutrition coach as well as a model, runner, and triathlete. She counsels people on how to effectively reach their health, nutrition and wellness goals. With her personalized step-by-step program and support, reaching goals is enjoyable and lifelong.
Visit Lisa in her office at 120 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Suite 217, Topanga. To make an appointment: (310) 480-2559 Lisa@wholebodybeautiful.com For more information please visit www.Wholebodybeautiful.com.