If you experience cold and flu symptoms a lot this time of year, there are many natural ways you can improve your body’s ability to stay healthy – especially with the foods you and lifestyle.
Many people believe that hand-washing is one of the best ways to keep illnesses away. In the last two decades we’ve seen a huge increase of the use of anti-bacterial substances which are supposed to keep our bodies healthier. But actually, these substances are toxic and don’t help our bodies to maintain health. They wipe out all bacteria, and our bodies need good bacteria to function optimally.
There are also many other factors which come into play toward keeping healthy. If your body doesn’t have the right nutrients every day – especially during times of stress, when you consume processed foods and especially foods with sugar, exposure to illness from others, and days where sunlight is in short supply – your body will likely weaken and give in to sickness and disease.
Whether you are a person who tends to “catch” every cold or flu that comes along or you just experience symptoms once in a while, here are some tips that really work to improve your immune system:
1. Avoid eating processed foods and refined sugars.
Autumn and winter months are times when people tend to eat more sugary and processed foods. Sugar is a poison to your body and lowers immune system function. This includes foods such as crackers, chips, most breads, bagels, pastas, cookies, desserts, sweets, commercial juice, soda, and other related items. All of these items contribute to lowered immune system function and poor health. A good rule of thumb to follow – if it is not a whole food, avoid eating it regularly. Load up on real, whole foods for both snacks and meals.
2. Consume plenty of healthy oils and fats.
Real, organic butter and ghee, extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oils, coconut oils, and healthy animal fats from organic, grass-fed sources such as chicken, duck, or goose fat.
3. Avoid vegetable oils and trans fats.
This would include vegetable oils, margarine and fake butter spreads, soybean, canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and peanut oil, which are rancid, contain too many Omega 6s, and have inflammatory and hormonal disrupting properties which are harmful to health.
4. Get essential fatty acids in your diet
Take fish oil or cod liver oil daily, eat grass-fed/organic meats, pasture-raised eggs, and wild fish. Good sources of other essential fatty acids include healthy oils like cold-pressed organic flax seed oil, and coconut oil.Fish oil is a great supplement to add to your routine, just make sure you buy a good quality one, such as Wiley’s Finest, Lion’s Heart or Nutri Advanced Eskimo brand
5. Continue to eat plenty of organic fresh fruits and vegetables. Especially those in season in your local area.
I was extremely lucky to find a local organic food group where I live – “Farnham local food”, which is totally organic and I get my share every week and it’s quite large! Vegetables and fruits are high in nutrients and antioxidants which help stop the development of disease and illness when fermented or eaten with healthy fats like butter, coconut oil, or olive oil.Many of the vitamins are fat-soluble, so to absorb those vitamins you need some fat to go with it!
6. Avoid plastic containers for water, tap water, and bottled water. Tap water contains toxins and plastic contains pthalates – both of which suppress immune system and health.
7. Fill your body with lots of minerals. Good ways to get minerals is to drink nettle or other herb’s infusions (made with filtered water) . Lack of minerals is one of the leading causes of illness and disease.
How to make herbs infusions:
Get a glass container. You can add various herbs to your mixture such as mint, chamomile, red raspberry leaf, blackcurrant leaf, lemon balm, lemongrass or others. I love adding mint, lemon balm and lemongrass – it all grows in my garden. Nettle grows everywhere around where I live. Fresh herbs are the best, but dried are acceptable.
Cover the bottom of your jar with herbs.
Add 2/3 cold water to the herbs and 1/3 hot water from the kettle on top. This helps to maintain potency of the nutritional properties of the infusion (not to be confused with most tea that is steeped for just a few minutes in a pot or cup), and still extracts the desired elements into the water due to the long amount of time the mixture is infused.
When your infusion has brewed for at least 4 and no more than 8 hours, simply store the finished infusion in the refrigerator and use your strainer each time you pour a glass.
I recommend using your herbs infusion up within a 24 hour period as the potency of the minerals and other nutritional elements diminishes rapidly once it is made. You can still drink the infusion beyond 24 hours, but know that benefits will be lessened as time goes on.
8. Drink bone broths and incorporate them into your meals as well.
Make sure your bone broths made from the bones of healthy organically grown animals and birds as they are full of easily-digested and essential nutrients which can help your body stay healthy such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, amino acids, and glucosamine (for bone health), and gelatin (muscles, metabolism, weight, skin, digestion, hair, fingernails, joint health).
9. Eat real, fermented foods like home-made yogurt, kefir, miso and sauerkraut.
Making your own at home is best for optimal preservation of nutrients and beneficial bacteria, as well as immune supporting and digestive enhancing. Some commercial yogurts, sour cream, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, and other foods may not have the health benefits or probiotic activity of home-made cultured foods.
10. Take a good probiotic each day – especially if you are lacking fermented foods.
Good brands include Bio-Kult, Wild Nutrition, Renew Life – depends on your budget.
11. Watch intake of alcoholic beverages, which tend to increase during holiday months.
Drinking excess alcohol can have adverse affects on appetite, blood sugar, blood pressure and cardiovascular function, metabolic processes, and weight.
12. Make sure you are getting adequate rest and not overworking yourself.
If necessary, say no to extra tasks that you know you really won’t have time or energy to accomplish. Stay home on a night where you might normally go out and rest, relax, catch up, and go to bed early. Go to bed by 10-10.30 pm and sleep minimum 8 hours. In winter time our bodies need more sleep.
13. Set aside time for some regular exercise, preferably outdoors.
In the colder months people tend to go to health clubs more but still try to find the time to go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. You’ll be pleased with how good you feel afterwards.
14. Set aside time for stress reduction, and relaxation.
Whether that is a hot Epsom Salt bath, a massage, tai chi, yoga, stretching, meditation or some other method you prefer, make sure you give yourself this time to recharge.
15. If you do experience cold or flu symptoms, load up on probiotics, vitamin C and Zinc, foods with healthy fats, and everything else mentioned above.
Take time to pamper yourself (but not with toxic products that contain harmful chemicals – remember -read labels and if you cannot pronounce something or don’t know what it is, avoid!), rest, and put off things that aren’t necessary so you can get back to a state of health quicker and easier.
16. Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics if not necessary.
These substances rarely help your body to heal sooner, are over-prescribed, and actually cause nutrient depletion and lowered immune system function by wiping out friendly bacteria that is vital to health.
If you cannot shake a cold or flu symptoms consider visiting an alternative health care practitioner such as a chiropractor, naturopathic specialist, acupuncturist or other qualified individual. These practitioners are often very successful in alleviating health issues and perform treatment based on the cause of the problem rather than just treating symptoms. Or just simply ask me 🙂
If you maintain a schedule of eating traditionally-prepared real food, avoid processed foods and beverages, take proper supplementation when needed, obtain moderate activity, exercise, rest, and relaxation, you will likely notice an improvement in the way your health responds. My hope is that you will have more energy, feel more productive, and improve your immune system.