Well it has been a crazy winter and folks have found themselves dealing with colds or flus. Unfortunately, it seems to be hitting folks pretty hard. If you haven’t already come down with something, you likely know someone close who has. So what do you do to protect yourself? What do you do when you develop symptoms of a cough, cold, flu, or a fever? This blog will be broken up into two separate blogs, and we’ll talk about some ways you can help boost your body’s capability to defend itself.
Let’s start with strengthening your body and immune system. Our bodies are designed to attack foreign invaders and keep us healthy. This does require us to incorporate some key health items to be able to give the body the proper tools to run. There are several ways you can do this.
Improve your vitamin D intake (actually a hormone), especially during the winter. Our exposure to the sun is so low that we don’t make enough to support our immune system. The best way to know how your levels are doing is to ask your doctor to check your blood levels. Doctors want to see a result between 50-100 ng/mL. If it is low, you’ll want to give it a boost. Most likely you can take up to 5,000-10,000 IU per day for adults, and around 400-2,000 IU for children (about 35 IU per pound of body weight). Check your personal vitamin D levels first. Then follow-up with your doctor to see if your intake is sufficient for your body needs. Regular vitamin D checks (once every 6 months or once per year) will help to know if blood levels are sufficient. The best source of vitamin D is from the skin exposure to the sun. Natural food sources include egg yolks from chickens and raw milk from cows who roam outside. Other sources are fish and fish oils such as fermented cod liver oil. Plants do provide a vitamin D source, but it is more readily available to the body in animal form.
Improve your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is needed for many cellular functions in the body and it supports our immune system. Living sources of vitamin C are oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, pineapple, and other fruits and vegetables. It is absorbed the best in the body from whole food. However, whole food vitamin supplements with vitamin C, and homeopathic remedies with vitamin C are helpful.
Reduce, or even better, eliminate sugars from the diet. While its taste is deceiving, it is harmful to the body in so many ways. In the cases of illness, it suppresses the immune system. The specialized cells in the body do not function properly, and they do not fight the foreign invaders. Then it’s an open area for the bad organisms to grow and proliferate rapidly within the body. True, raw honey can be beneficial to the body. If the body can handle the honey, there are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties that can help to fight the symptoms. Don’t heat the honey to maintain its health benefits.
Incorporate health beneficial drinks such as kefir, kombucha, herbal teas, and homemade bone broths. While these can be purchased, making your own drinks is healthy and more cost efficient. If you don’t have the time, there are a variety of products available and you can incorporate these drinks regularly for immune boosting health. Making bone broths can be easy with a stockpot or crockpot at home. It is best to use clean, organic bone sources. You can also add some vegetables such as onions and garlic, and herbs and spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil to your mixture. Let it simmer together, strain it and enjoy!
Add beneficial gut supporting probiotics. The gut is part of our immune system, and it is important to take care of it so it can take care of you. This includes making sure we have a good supply of good bacteria in our gut to do its job. Be sure that your probiotics are living bacteria. Some products say that it was originally cultured by bacteria but the organisms are no longer alive. You can get probiotics from good quality supplements but it is also found in cultured vegetables, kombucha, and kefir.
Of course, it goes without saying, incorporate good sources of fruits, vegetables, and greens daily. These are the building blocks to helping your body function. Incorporate onions and garlic with your dishes, soups, sandwiches, and even raw if you can. Drink warm lemon water in the mornings upon rising. Snack on oranges and grapefruits.
Don’t underestimate the power of the herbs and spices in your pantry or cupboard! They are not just to enhance the flavor of your dishes. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties, and more! Be sure to add them to all your culinary dishes. My top picks are oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger.
Last but not least. Be sure to get your rest, and reduce your stress. Sleep is essential to keeping your immune system strong. Try to go to bed by 10 pm, but it is important to get between 7-8 hours of sleep on average. Your body knows what it needs. Try not to ignore it. And while we are exposed to many stressors, it is important to keep our stress down as much as possible. Stress reduces the function of the immune system. It makes it harder for our bodies to fight the bad organisms when they come along. You can reduce your stress in many ways such as exercising, deep breathing, prayer and meditation, reading a book, getting a massage, talking with others, and more. Take some time to help relax.
Try incorporating some of these tips to help get a healthy boost!
In the next blog, I’ll share some general ways you can help boost your immune system if you have already come down with symptoms of a cough, an achy body, fatigue, or a fever. These tips above are just as helpful then too, but we will talk about some other approaches as well.
Magan has a B.S. degree in biology from Messiah College. She is a certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant (CHNC), certified in Homeopathy Consulting (CHC), certified as a Wellness Consultant (CWC), and Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) from the American College of Healthcare Sciences; graduating with Honors.