Prevention is always the best measure, particularly now when people are fearful of upper-respiratory illness, quarantines and outbreaks. The CDC and many other health outlets tout sanitation and cleanliness as the best defense against infection. If that is true, then a strong immune system is the best offense. Here are some tips for immune building tips which, in conjunction with cleanliness and healthy habits, can combat any illness.
Don’t skimp on sleep
A full seven to eight uninterrupted hours a night is essential to keeping an immune system strong.
The power of digestive health
Immunity starts in the gut, making digestive health one of the most important aspects of good health. Drink and eat lots of probiotics like kombucha or kim chee to promote digestive health and boost immunity. Keep the gut healthy by eating foods that create healthy bowel movements for yourself.
Steer clear of refined sugars
Sugar has been known to lower immunity and strain detoxification and hormone-related function. It stresses the liver and digestive tract, reducing the body’s ability to fight off and process infection. Go easy on the carbs… particularly sticky, low nutrient carbs like gluten and white rice which gum up digestion and quickly convert to sugars in the body.
Get hot; Then cold
Exercise whenever possible to get the blood and lymph moving and to build heat in the body. Don’t underestimate the value of cold water. If you are an ocean-lover, get in the water, or at least dip your feet in. Despite common misconceptions, cold is good for your immune system in small doses. So is temperature fluctuations. Follow your cold dip with a hot shower and end with a cool water rinse.
Slow down and breathe
Amid our busy lives, yoga instructor and massage therapist, Meagan Zarba, suggests meditation and breathwork to calm the nervous system, and just slowing down in general.
These suggestions will promote a healthy immune system that will not only fight off any “bug” it encounters, but will also allow your body to process it without (or with minimal) symptoms, creating a natural immunity or vaccine to that particular virus strain.
This all goes hand-in-hand with the basic recommendations from the CDC, especially frequent hand washing. Although important and essential when handwashing isn’t feasible, overuse of antibacterial products causes a loss in potency, and frequent use and contributes to the creation of “super viruses” that over time become immune to the products. Also remember that there are billions of bacteria on our skin at any given moment. We need those bacteria in order to survive. Antibacterial products do not discriminate against good bacteria and bad ones leaving our bodies sterile and actually more susceptible to infection. A healthy level of good bacteria will actually promote immunity.
My favorite powerhouse immune boosting tips
These are my favorite foods, vitamins and herbs for strong immune health. Hopefully they provide some inspiration to find or make your own.
*bone broth. I make mine from turkey bones and load it with herbs like burdock and astragalus, vegetables full of vitamin C and adaptogens like mushrooms. Or buy some from your local health food store.
*Vitamin C. Take daily in recommended doses to keep my immunity strong. Triple the amount at the onset of cold symptoms and keep at an increased dose until feeling improvement, then taper off slowly until symptom-free. Maintain a preventative dosage for at least two weeks to rebuild immunity.
*ginger and tumeric. Their benefits are too many to list, but a daily dose of both will improve immunity and also help combat illness should it come.
*Green tea everyday to boost immunity and for its antiviral properties.
*Mushrooms are fabulous adaptogens and should be a part of everyone’s regular diet. The most nutritious way to prepare them is by cooking first, preferably in water. Go with a robust choice like shitake or oyster mushrooms over the white button variety.
My favorite remedies when I feel susceptible to the cold or flu are herbal ones. These three make for a winning combination when used together. They can be drunk as a tea or used in tincture form mixed into a hot drink or water.
- Burdock supports the liver so it can help process infection, and moves the bowels, benefitting gut flora and keeping gut health (ie:immunity central) strong. Also an antiviral.
- Dandelion also supports the liver and it moves the lymph, flushing out toxins.
- Mullein moves congestion, particularly in the lungs. Together with burdock and dandelion, it rounds out the detox trio. Take it as tincture, tea, or a smoke smudge.
Do you have any favorite immune boosting foods or medicines you’d like to share? Comment here!