Everywhere we turn these days, there is talk about ways to support your immune system. We hear about supplements, shakes, or special detoxes. But, in reality, there are many ways to achieve a healthy immune system, not just one; ya feel me? So, as cold and flu season starts to sneak up on us, I want to provide you with practical ways to create a healthy environment for your immune system to thrive!
First things first, we need to ask ourselves – what can we do to SUPPORT this beautiful body we live in? And not only what we can be putting in our bodies but what can be left out. As a Holistic Health Coach, the food we eat is always at the top of my list when it comes to our immune health. Additionally, we can also boost our immune system by taking supplements, getting adequate sleep, reducing our stress, and moving our bodies. The items listed below are amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to change the way our body reacts to the outside world when it comes to immunity. So here we go!
Top 5 Ways to Support Your Immune System
1. Eat a diet rich in nutrient dense foods.
The way we eat significantly affects things like frequent colds, ear and sinus infections, digestive issues, sleep issues, to name a few. Being that your body is made up of cells, tissues, and organs made from the food we eat, it is my pleasure to tell you that you are what you eat!! What you fuel your body with is what makes up your immune system. So, with NO judgment, I want you to reflect on the foods you are eating. How are you setting yourself up? I like to think of food as your home base. If you were building a house that you would be living in for your whole life, would you use the cheap lumber, the fake wooden doors? I would want to build my home to last, one without floors caving in, doors warping, and a roof that won’t let the water in.
Nutrition is the number one way to stay healthy and support your immune system – simply eating more whole, unprocessed foods! Have fun with this, try new things! Aim for progress – not perfection.
Here are some healthy foods that support your immune system health:
• Bone Broth – Have you tried bone broth?! I know it is all over the place, but I am a truth seeker, and the truth is, it is amazing for you! There are many properly sourced bone broth brands that have premade broths that you can just heat up. A brand that I trust is, Kettle and Fire. I love Co-ops! I want to give a shout out to our local Co-Op, Lakewinds, they always have homemade bone broth that is a staple in our house. You can make your own, checkout my go-to simple recipe.
• Meat and protein including, eggs, bison, chicken, kefir, wild caught fish.
• Immune boosting vegetables: Squash, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, cucumber, sauerkraut, zucchini, onions, garlic and pumpkin to name a few.
You want to get as many nutrients from your food as that is the best way for your body to absorb them. Sometimes, however, we need a little boost with certain vitamins and minerals.
Supplements I suggest for a great boost are:
• Probiotic- This is number one for me because the health of your gut reflects the health of your immune system. Taking a properly sourced probiotic helps balance and protect your gut lining.
• Vitamin D3- Did you know that more than half Americans are deficient in this important vitamin? Taking a D3 supplement will help support your immune system and helps fight viruses and bacteria.
• Vitamin C- Starting your vitamin C routine now will help you more when you do catch a bug. So, start it up now as you want it in your system before the cold and flu season hits.
• Zinc- The immune system needs zinc to function properly and I’m sure by now you won’t be surprised to learn that once again, most of us our deficient in this important one too. The cool thing about zinc is that you can take more when sick to combat sooner.
• Quercetin- Helps regulate inflammation and the immune response to outside stressors and so much more. Studies have shown that quercetin also promotes normal respiratory function.
Yes, get your Z’s! Our bodies do amazing things when we sleep. In my opinion, getting enough sleep is just as important as the foods we nourish our bodies with! Studies show that people who get less than 6-7 hours of sleep a night are more vulnerable to infection. So, aim for 7 or more hours of sleep a night.
Tips for great sleep:
• Have a consistent bedtime in a dark, quiet and cooler room
• Avoid eating 2 hours before bedtime
• Use dim lighting 2-3 hours before bed or try wearing blue light blocking glasses until bedtime. This will increase melatonin.
• Try to switch it up and instead of watching T.V. read a book! Avoid screens before bed.
• Drinking caffeine later in the afternoon can keep us up later at night. Stick to drinking only in the morning.
• To make things easier, find a routine that you look forward to at night. A mug of warm tea, essential oils and a great book can go a long way!
4. Reducing stress
Stress can wreak havoc on your immune system. Don’t let this stress you out! Sometimes we let this one slide only because we don’t know how to take away stressors that we cannot control. I want you to know that it is not about controlling the stress; it is how we can support ourselves as we go through it that matters. I’m sure you have heard of the tips below. But if you haven’t, I invite you to try these because they are free, and I promise it will make a difference.
Tips for managing stress.
• Gratitude journal -You are in charge of your brain; your brain is not in charge of you. This is something that helped me change stress in my life. It is all about your outlook. Actually writing things down in a journal that you are grateful for is magic. Don’t underestimate this.
• Meditation -Yes, this word is so overused. But have you tried this? This is something else that has completely changed my life. At first it may seem weird and uncomfortable. Practicing this will make things easier and you will FEEL the benefits and won’t look back. If you are new to this, use guided meditation. There are so many apps and videos that can guide you through.
• Make time for fun – What is something that you are passionate about? We often get stuck in doing chores and focusing on what we think we need to be doing instead of enjoying life. Self-care is so important here. It is one the most important ingredients of a healthy immune system.
• Connecting with friends – Community is a pillar of great health. Surrounding yourself with others that build you up, support you and make you happy will help manage stress in your life.
Get that body moving. Regular exercise is one of the pillars to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise looks different for everyone. I am not saying hit the gym and run 5 miles a day. I want you to think about what you could do starting where you are right now. What could you incorporate daily to support your body?
Ways to get in 15-20 minutes of body movement:
• Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones.
• Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airway
• Boosts activity of your white blood cells. These antibodies can then circulate more rapidly and detect illness faster.
• Helps support your body’s natural detox process
I love educating on immunity. Our body is designed to be able to combat most thrown our way. When we learn how to support our health, transformation happens.