Now that fall is upon us, and the kids have gone back to school we all know what time it really is… let the cold and flu season begin! Most of us know someone who’s already been affected by the bugs that have been going around or have been affected ourselves. But what can we do to help boost our immune system and keep our defenses up so we can continue our day to day lives? Here are 5 simple ways to start boosting your immune function today and through the cold months. Keep in mind there’s no substitute for whole foods as a staple in your diet, as vegetables and fruits naturally in and of themselves support a healthy immune system.
1-Probiotics! This is my number one for everyone coming into the season hands down. Why would you take a probiotic or even take more if you’re already taking one? Well, about 70% of your immune system comes from these good bacteria that out number our cells 10 to 1. Most of the time when you are sick/coming down with something you will also notice a change in your bowel habits-this is my tell tale sign to up the count and knock out whatever my body is fighting before I have many other symptoms that something is wrong. So, if you’re not taking a probiotic (ps have you been living under a rock? These do more than immune function people!!) start taking one as a preventative measure in the cold months. If you are taking one, switch it up perhaps or double down if you start to feel a little run down, or you’re working with a lot of people under the weather.
2-Make time for Teas Whether you prefer green teas or herbals teas both can offer many benefits to your immune system. Teas traditionally pack a nice antioxidant punch allowing your immune system to function at it’s best. When you choose an herbal tea you’re actually getting a mild dose of herbal medicine that will allow boosting of the immune system that isn’t too harsh. It’s especially important for chest or sinus colds to do hot teas at the earliest onset as the hot water can help stimulate your first line of defense. Now a days they make specific herbal blends to boost immunity that have things such as echinacea, elderberry or flower, cinnamon, cloves and even ginger so there’s no doubt you can find one you like. For an added boost, stir in a small amount of local honey. Be careful that the tea isn’t boiling hot when you do this or you’ll kill off all those good immune supportive nutrients in the honey. A squeeze of lemon will help your detoxification processes as well.
3-Do some Mushrooms! Let’s get this straight- I’m talking about medicinal mushroom extracts, not the psychedelic ones. Mushrooms have one of the strongest immune systems on the planet, called mycelia, and there are good companies out there making capsules and tinctures of all the goodness these little babies have to offer. I love mushroom extracts for so many reasons, the most important is that they are immune MODULATING-not stimulating. So much of the “immune boosting” stuff out there stimulates the immune system, but mushrooms tonify your natural immunity. Mushroom extracts are rich in beta glucans that stimulate macrophages and natural killer cells and triterpenoids that decrease the inflammatory response all together! I prefer Host Defense Organic Mushroom Extracts because they have made specific blends for the immune system, they’re safe to take even with auto-immune diseases, and have even been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of certain Cancers. Seriously this is some of the best stuff on earth, and if you don’t know who Paul Stamets or Host Defense is, goole it now please. This guy holds patents on some of his mushrooms for things like protection against biological warfare!
4-Supplements We all know that some things are important for the immune system like Vitamin C and zinc, but did you know Vitamin C works better at cold/flu prevention than as a treatment?? Don’t wait, if you’re going to up your C do it before you come down with something. I’m a big fan of bumping up the Vitamin D intake in winter, because let’s face it…baby it’s cold outside (oh and the sun acts like it’s on vacation). Vitamin D is present in over 300 processes in the body, so it’s super important, and any time we are sick our body’s demand for D goes up. I always like to base Vitamin D dosing on individual blood results because some people need 10,000 IU’s daily in the summer even! 2,000 IU’s is usually a safe dose without blood testing for adults, but in the winter months 5,000 might be more beneficial to people. Again, to know your dose the best way is to get checked and go from there, optimal Vitamin D levels range between 60-80 for functional health so ask to see your results when your doctor proclaims “your normal”- you’ll be shocked to see even levels as low as 30 being called OK. Antioxidants are also one of the major immune supporters, and taking a mixture is best as each individual (A,C,E,Zinc,Selenium to name a few) does it’s own thing, and they work together to enhance each other.
5-Don’t skimp on Sleep It seems too simple to be honest, but making sure your sleep routine is sound does so much for your immune system. Think about it, when we start to get a cold we usually just want to curl up in our beds and sleep the day away. Your body is trying to repair and rebuild! When we sleep our brain can keep our major life functions going (breathing, heart beating ect) but it’s allowed to focus it’s efforts on rebuilding and repairing the damage- or fighting the good fight if you have an offender in your midst. Most people aren’t aware but even most of weight loss happens in your sleep-your body pulls stored goods from your fat cells to repair from the days damage…so if you’re not getting GOOD sleep you continue to suffer. 7-8 hours of good restful sleep each night can do you wonders, so shut off the TV, draw the blinds, get some ear plugs if necessary and I like to hide the numbers on the clock so that I can relax when it comes time for bed. Before retiring for the night might be the best time to enjoy a calming tea and set the mood for relaxation and rest. By keeping your stress in check, your immune system will be able to do it’s job at it’s best.
Health & Happiness,