It’s back to school time, more time indoors time, or, as we all affectionately call it… cold and flu season! I was reminded of this when the nurse at the doctor’s office offered a flu shot. Ay yi yi, is it really getting to that time of year already?
Our family’s personal preference is to boost our immunity naturally as much as possible. Over the years, we’ve developed an arsenal of preventative measures to fight the bad bugs that come with the season. While we still occasionally fall ill, we’ve found that following a precautionary regimen can help ward off sicknesses before they come- and curtail them if we do happen to catch them!
Here’s how we work to prevent (& fight) sicknesses in our house:
1) Adequate sleep. There’s nothing like a good night of shut eye. It turns out that lack of sleep actually can suppress the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Also, losing sleep can make your body less effective at fighting sickness, so you’re left feeling worse for longer. (Source.)
2) Overall good nutrition. There’s a lot of articles out there on what to eat and what not to eat to boost your immunity, but most say that the immune system is so complicated that it’s difficult to tell how much your food affects it. Here’s my theory: nourishing foods help your body function at its best. If your body is functioning well, you’ll be more likely to be able to fight illnesses. (I am not a doctor. This is merely my hypothesis. 😉 )
3) Avoiding excess sugar. This can be challenging for me. As much as I love real food and all that jazz, I also really love chocolate. I justify my daily consumption by my lack of sugar-laden processed foods and soda. Right?
But I digress. The point is that excess sugar can seriously hinder your immune system. According to Dr. Sears, “Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of about two cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent.” (Source.)
4) Elderberry syrup. One of my favorites, and our kids love it too! Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting flavonoids. We tend to take a spoonful most days throughout the winter, and then up our intake to several times daily at the first sign of sickness. Studies haven’t confirmed whether or not it’s effective as a preventative measure. However, it has been shown to significantly shorten the course of the flu- as much as by 50%! (Source.) For the past two years, we’ve made variations of this recipe from Wellness Mama.
5) Chicken soup (& other chicken broth concoctions). It’s actually a real thing- chicken soup can help you feel better. Carsonine, a compound found in chicken broth, helps your body fight sickness. The steam from the soup can help clear congestion & improve your cilia’s function. (Those are the little protective nose hairs that keep out the bad guys.-Source.) Add to that the goodness of garlic, onion, and all those veggies, and you’ve got a complete, delicious immunity booster. Here’s how I make my chicken stock.
6) Fermented Foods. How do fermented foods help to keep you from getting sick? In short, fermented foods help to promote good bacteria and probiotics in your gut- and having a healthy gut means having a healthy immune system! Here’s an interesting article on how a healthy gut flora influences your overall heath and immunity. (More to come on fermentation in the future- it’s been a bit of an obsession for me recently!)
Now, if we do actually get sick, we kick these preventative measures into high gear. Then we go to town with garlic, ecinacea supplements, catnip tea, ginger root & lemon tea, apple cider vinegar, and some various essential oil usage. But that, my friends, is for another post.
If you’d like some more ideas for natural remedies (and other steps to a healthier you), be sure to check out the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, available only from September 9th-14th, 2015. You don’t want to miss this one!