Flu season is heading our way and in a few weeks many will suffer. But you don’t have to be one of them if you start boosting immunity now.
Today’s lifestyles can be stressful and generally involve poor dietary habits, hectic schedules, and anxiety, with little or no time to exercise.
All of these factors combined can lay the foundation for stress, tension, fatigue, frustration, and anxiety that can wear on the immune system. Many of these factors also increase during the winter season for various reasons.
Seasonal shots may deter the onset or length of some ailments. Over the counter medications may additionally ease symptoms.
However, neither of these measures actually supports or strengthens the immune system–which when working in an ideal state. Can easily ward off problems long before you experience a stuffy nose or cough.
Reducing stress, getting enough sleep, eating right and getting proper exercise are not always possible.
Here are some things you should try to fit into your diet, either on a daily basis or at least a few times a week.
Why Are Colds So Contagious?
Colds and flus are hardy adversaries and here’s why:
- There are almost 200 viruses that cause the common cold.
- Cold viruses can live on surfaces for anywhere between several hours to several days.
- Droplets that carry viruses can travel almost 3.5 feet when you cough or sneeze.
- Cold and flu viruses manage to sneak inside your cells and it takes around a week for your body to produce antibodies, to help destroy them.
- Cold and flu viruses change during the season, so even if you developed immunity to the first strain, you may still come down with the next one after it has morphed into a slightly different virus.
1. Eat Breakfast
Are you sure you want to race off to work with a gurgling tummy?
People who skip breakfast are more likely to develop winter illnesses (including the common cold), shows research from Cardiff University in Wales.
Skimping on brekkie can also cause the jitters.
If you don’t “break your fast” then your blood sugars drop due to an extended time without food and feelings of mental fog, anxiety and sugar cravings can occur.
This can raise stress levels and stress hormones like cortisol for the day. Which can then put your body in a state of fight or flight that lowers your immunity.
So get out of bed a little earlier and ensure you have time for breakfast.
Savory starters: Have the PFF kind of breakfast, starting with the Farmer Wife’s Breakfast. This ensures that you face the day with a good amount of protein on board.
Rather than navigating a sudden spike in blood glucose from breakfasting on sweetened cereals or spreads like honey and jam. For another seasonal option.
A caffeine-free morning: Remember – a latte or long black on the way to work does more than make you feel awake – it puts your body in a state of high alert and triggers adrenaline. Which could divert your immune system from its job because it mistakenly thinks you are under threat.
Healthy breakfasts “to go”: Keep nuts or healthy whole grain seed crackers and tuna in your desk drawer.
2. Add one or several immune supporting supplements
Most of us are aware of the role of antioxidants in fighting free radicals that can contribute to colds or other illnesses.
Most of us know we need these vitamins and nutrients for everyday health and wellness.
Adding an extra dose when symptoms surface will provide the support our bodies need when illness arises.
3. Heal Your Gut
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was absolutely on the money with his assertion that “All disease begins in the gut.” Now science is filling in the rest of that story.
Research shows that when your levels of bad bacteria outweigh the good bacteria your immune system is weakened.
Your gut can also slam-dunk your immunity if you have chronic digestive issues. These include dyspepsia (which causes discomfort and burping after food), acid reflux and leaky gut. Where small gaps open up between the mucosa cells that line your gut wall.
Probiotic foods: These include miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt (if you can tolerate dairy, otherwise get coconut or almond yogurt) and kefir.
Fermented beets: Kvass, a tasty fermented Eastern European drink is made from chopped beetroot, turmeric root, water and salt, resulting in a lactobacillus fermentation.
It is a super healthy probiotic drink that does not contain yeasts like Kombucha, so it will not worsen candida overgrowth.
Gelatin: This can help to heal leaky gut by lining your gut wall with a thick-jelly-like collagen and repairing the connective tissue that joins the cells lining your gut wall.
Research from the University of Catania shows that gelatin also reduces inflammation in the intestine.
4. Increase the intake of water and hot fluids
Pure water provides support to organs and assists in flushing out toxins.
Hot fluids, such as herbal teas can break up mucus, soothe the throat and stomach lining, and penetrate into the lungs.
Teas that include eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, and marshmallow root are especially helpful in supporting immune-system defenses and warding off the “bugs” that form more common symptoms.
5. Up Your Antioxidants
Eating right for your body involves trial and error to work out the foods that suit your bio-individuality. You can learn more about this in my free workshop, Cooking For Balance.
Which discusses healing foods, how to reverse weight gain. And why you can feel tired and sick even when you are “eating healthy”.
To maintain good health, you also need plenty of nutrient-dense choices to boost your immune system and balance your hormones. That’s where foods high in antioxidants come in.
They reverse the impacts of excess hormone levels and stabilize free radicals, reducing risk of illness and disease.
Berries: While blueberries boast the most antioxidants, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black currants and elderberries are also super rich in antioxidants.
This is due to their polyphenols, including procyanidin, quercetin and anthocyanins, which give them their spectacular color.
Hot cacao: Cacao is packed with nearly double the amount of antioxidants found in red wine and up to three times more than those found in tea, shows research from Cornell University in the US.
It’s also high in magnesium, which can boost heart health and help lower anxiety. Cacao also contains tryptophan.
Which converts to serotonin – a chemical that can help elevate mood.
A calmer state helps ensure that your body’s immune defenses, such as killer T cells can do their job more effectively.
Broccoli sprouts are a particularly good choice. At the sprouting stage, they contain 50 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli flowerets.
Sulforophane helps your body with cell repair and the production of energy, hormones and a master antioxidant called glutathione.
Your body repairs and renews cells during sleep. Which may be why skimping on sleep trebles the risk of catching a cold, according to research at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh.
The study found that people who sleep eight hours a night develop better antibody response when exposed to a cold virus.
Stick to a sleep schedule: Don’t sit up late reading a book or lost in couch potato land. Stick to the same sleep and wake times so you get eight hours of shut-eye.
Set a caffeine curfew: If you have trouble falling asleep, don’t drink tea or coffee beyond midday.
Avoid bright lights in the evening: Light can reduce your production of melatonin, which can delay sleep onset, reducing your hours of slumber.
7. Avoid All Processed Foods
This is no time to bombard your body with processed foods, inflammatory omega-6 oils (soybean oil, corn oil, etc), fried foods, high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugars or chemical additives.
These toxic “treats” force your body to do extra work to expel all this junk and repair the internal inflammation that they cause in your body.
Also, grain-based foods like bread, cereal, muffins, pasta and bagels are major culprits in causing internal inflammation and disrupting normal gut function, so avoid grains as much as possible.
These seven natural remedies will go a long way toward helping you boost your immune system and ward off seasonal sickness.
Bonus 3 All-Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System
1. Take a probiotic that has a broad array of species
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most important families of bacteria that populate our gut from birth.
Look for one that has at least 30 to 50 billion colonies and at least eight strains of bacteria. Double this dose if you’re coming down with a cold or have to take antibiotics.
Remember, these are live organisms, and it pays to spend a little more on a good-quality brand. Most probiotics should be kept refrigerated to extend their shelf life.
In addition, adding fermented foods—like sauerkraut, naturally fermented pickles, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, tempeh, miso, natto, and kombucha—to your everyday routine is crucial.
2. Take this TRIO on a daily basis
Although there are several vitamins and minerals that support our immune system, these three really pack a punch.
Take them daily if you suffer from chronic infections, get sick frequently, or are feeling run down:
Zinc: 15 to 30 mg a day
Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system and even acts as an antioxidant by fighting off free radicals. It’s also a very common deficiency worldwide.
Vitamin D: 2,000 IU daily
Although you can get vitamin D through some fortified foods and sunlight, our modern lifestyle doesn’t always allow for a lot of time outdoors.
And many adults don’t get the levels of vitamin D required to modulate the immune system.
This is a very important vitamin for the treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases, in particular.
Vitamin C powder: 1,500 mg daily
Vitamin C is really a powerhouse vitamin for immunity.
A deficiency in vitamin C has been associated with an increased frequency and duration of colds, along with immune system defects.
It’s also a crucial free-radical scavenger that significantly protects against infectious disease.
3. Use natural antimicrobials to ward off infection
One of the best ways to build your immune strength daily is through a few key superfoods.
These foods can be incorporated on a daily basis so that you are constantly improving and boosting your immunity while eating yummy foods.
This superfood has very strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
The potent sulfur compound allicin in garlic is known to treat serious GI infections such as SIBO (small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and kill parasites and yeast infections.
At the first sign of an infection, start taking one raw garlic clove daily, or use concentrated allicin extract.
This oil has a long history of being used and an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal. It can also be used topically to treat antibiotic-resistant staph infections of the skin (MRSA) as well as taken internally to combat yeast infections.
For both men and women, taking stock of the health of your immune system on a regular basis is not only going to keep you from getting sick.
But it will help you age more gracefully, look better. And prevent the development of diseases such and cancer down the line.