5 Ways to Support Your Immune System Using Nutrition
It is winter time and winter usually brings the season of sniffles, coughs, and the common cold. And although it is certainly not pleasant to be knocked out by the cold, it's actually good for our immune system every now and then! Today, I am sharing with you 5 ways to fight the common cold using nutrition.
1. Eat a whole-food, unprocessed diet
A whole food unprocessed diet is the very first step in strengthening the immune system. Removing as much as possible of the processed and packaged foods loaded with artificial ingredients, preservatives and toxic fillers is necessary to give our body a break. These "foods" are not recognized by the body, causing a whole myriad of responses including inflammation, the major root cause of most diseases! Use the "add in to crowd out" theory: add in more of the good, whole foods to naturally crowd out more of the bad, processed foods. This reduces one's initial feeling of "deprivation" as they wean off the often so addictive processed staples. One easy tip: make an effort to add leafy greens and other vegetables to each of your meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), amounting to at least 1/3rd of your entire meal. Eat the vegetables first before the rest of the meal, then proceed to the rest, eating slowly and mindfully. You will see that the sense of satiation arrives before getting through the other parts of the meal, crowding out more and more of the less healthy foods. This little trick does not even require and initial change to the foods you eat....so the transition is less "painful", less drastic, more adaptable and more doable.
2. Drink plenty of water
Yes, water. Not energy drinks, hydrating mixes, crystals and powders, or coffee.....just plain water. Preferably filtered, not bottled. Bring water with you wherever you go in a non-toxic container (glass, stainless steel). Herbal teas are also great, but only second to water. How does water help boost your immune system?
Oxygenates the blood and flushes toxins
Helps lymph production, which circulates blood cells and nutrients throughout the body
Keeps eyes and mouth clean, helping them repel dirt and parasites
Keeps digestive system strong allowing it to properly digest food
And many more
Also, remember that hydration comes from food too, so make sure you fill up on foods with a high water content such as: celery, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, radishes, zucchini, cauliflower, peppers, broccoli, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe and peaches.
3. Get enough sleep
The body of research the relationship between lack of sleep and disease is significant. It has been found that certain disease fighting substances are released or created while we sleep. Our bodies need these hormones, proteins, and chemicals in order to fight off disease and infection. So if we do not get adequate amount of quality sleep consistently, we are significantly weakening our immune system. Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, consistently. Children between 9-11 hours. Consistency is key! Create a relaxing evening bedtime routine, set a bedtime for yourself and be strict about it, do not compromise on your rest! Remove computers and electronics from your bedroom, use a blackout curtain or blinds and limit screen time to about 2 hours before bedtime. 4. Fill up on Vitamin D
Yes, vitamin D. It increases immune function and dramatically stimulates the production of potent anti-microbial peptides. Vitamin D acts as a pro-hormone and effects hormone balance and immune regulation. Get more vitamin D from natural food sources such as:
Cod liver oil
Fatty fish, like sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna
Grass-fed raw milk
Grass-fed beef liver
Grass-fed, organic cheese.
Pastured, organic egg yolks
And get some SUN!
5. Maintain a healthy gut
A healthy gut is the first line of defense between bacteria swallowed in from the outside world and our body. It is important that we have and maintain a healthy gut biome to fight disease. To improve your gut health, incorporate more of the following into your DAILY diet:
Probiotic-rich foods: fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, organic raw milk yogurt and kefir, kombucha
Bone broth: preferably homemade, using organic/grass-fed ingredients (I drink this daily or cook soups with it)
Quality Omega-3 from fatty fish (see above) or a supplement (without fillers)
And remove from your diet:
Processed and packaged foods
All added sugars (and as mush sugar in general as possible)
And along with healthy nutrition, lifestyle choices are just as important!
Getting enough quality sleep
Reducing our germophobia (yes, "eating" a little dirt is actually good!)
But more on these in following posts!
Stay happy and healthy,