Every fall, I am reminded of sickness season when I take the kids for their checkups. It seems that I have to ward off flu shots left and right! However, even the onset of spring and summer doesn’t mean we’re exempt from catching a bug. No matter the season, there’s always a need to arm ourselves against common ailments.
Our family’s personal preference is to boost our immunity naturally as possible. Over the years, we’ve developed an arsenal of preventative measures to fight common colds and bugs. 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.)
One of the best habits we’ve formed since the start of the new year has been getting up at the same time every morning. Not only does the early wake up time help us to start our mornings off right, the regular sleep schedule has really helped both of us to feel better in terms of energy and overall wellness.
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. Too much 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.)
Have you ever noticed that kids tend to get sick just after Halloween and Easter? It’s not that the candy itself makes them sick. However, all that sugar consumption significantly reduces their body’s ability to fight germs. We are all more likely to fall ill when we binge on sweets.
This has been really challenging for me over the years. As much as I love real food and all that jazz, I also really love chocolate! However, another major change that we’ve been working on over the past month or so is largely eliminating white sugars from our household. This is definitely one of those imperfect journeys.
4) Elderberry syrup. This is one of my favorite anti-sickness tools, 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 elderberry syrup is 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. If you don’t have the time to make it yourself, you can easily purchase syrup online.
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.
Read more on fermentation here.
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.
How do you boost your immunity and avoid sickness? Share below in the comments!