The negative side effects of the season… chronic fatigue, cold, flu or any other immune compromise. It IS possible to enjoy the color without the cough. But first let’s take a deeper look at what the immune system IS. The immune system is responsible for all the defense and protection in the body.
THERE ARE 3 LAYERS TO IMMUNITY:
- The skin– the most obvious physical barrier
- Adaptive defense– the short-term non-specific defense system reacting to parasites, bacteria, viruses and toxins
- Innate defense– Long-term specific defense occurring at a much deeper cellular level. ex. attacking cancer cells with lymphocytes, T cells and macrophages
Everything from cold to cancer prevention relies upon the immune system. Amazing, right? And the best part is that 80% of immune system is located in the gut. This is FABULOUS NEWS because it means we can optimize immunity just by fine tuning the nutrients we consume. When the immune system is richly supplied with nutrients, it creates plentiful amounts of these specialized cells we need such as interferons, macrophages, tumor-supressor cells, natural killer cells and T-cells, all of which are your crucial “warriors” for optimized immune function.
When nutrients are lacking, the immune system falters leaving you susceptible to the iconic “plagues” that haunt this season.
Now that you’re convinced nutrition plays a role in your immunity I’ve got a few SIMPLE strategies for creating the invincible immunity you deserve to savor [instead of merely survive] the season.
- PROBIOTICS: one of the easiest [+ tastiest] ways to bolster + protect your immune system daily. Bacteria doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, it’s GOOD bacteria that keeps us well all season long.
- Opt for food based probiotics first. Examples include Kefir [non-dairy coconut water is ideal] + Kombucha + Kimchi + Sauerkraut + raw pickles are all wonderful sources of probiotics. Capsules are fine too just make sure to purchase one with at least 20 billion CFU and at least 10 different strains.
- FIGHT OFF PATHOGENS WITH PHYTO-CHEMICALS: protective agents found in colorful fruits and vegetables. The more color the better!
- Aim to consume 4-5 different “colors” per day via predominately vegetable sources.
- DEFEND WITH D: get your vitamin D levels checked as sophisticated experiments have demonstrated that Vitamin D3 is essential for the activation of immune cells needed to seek out and destroy infectious invading microbes. Without this activation, infections such as influenza and the common cold appear to be more severe and last longer.
- If vitamin D is LOW make sure to include D into your daily protocol as indicated by a healthcare professional
IF YOU FEEL AN INKLING OF ILLNESS COMING ON
CELEBRATE C + ZINC: both of which have been shown to enhance and improve the effectiveness of the immune system by increasing the protective activity of certain immune cells. Without the proper function of these immune cells, infectious diseases such as colds and the flu usually occur more frequently, are more severe, and have a longer duration.
- Robust food sources of C are: Citrus + bell peppers + whole food based powdered C [aim to consume 1-2000mg per day]
- Pumpkin Seeds + oysters + cocoa [aim to consume 10-20mg per day]
IDOLIZE ELDERBERRY: because the compounds in elderberry extract have been found to bind to viruses and block their ability to invade host cells (2). In this way, elderberry is thought to reduce the severity of viral flu symptoms.
- aim to consume 2 tsp per day
DIVE INTO IMMUNE BOOSTING HERBS: Echinacea if it feels like a cold OR Astralagus if it feels like a flu. Both has been shown to stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of certain immune cells and by promoting the release of cytokines [cellular communication and regulatory molecules] from these immune cells.
CAUGHT A COLD + COUGH [and a SORE THROAT to boot]?
- GINGER: Ginger is a potent anti-viral food that prevents the adhesion of viruses to the upper respiratory tract. If you drink the concoction below at the first signs of sickness, you can often fight it off successfully. But, and this is a big “but,”you have to drink it at or near the strength I suggest, or it won’t be effective. Some people find this difficult to do, because ginger is so intense, but if you can handle it your immune system will thank you. Directions:
- Slice 1-2 inches of fresh ginger. Place ginger in a mug with the juice of one-half lemon and a large tablespoon of honey [honey is also anti-viral- see below].
- Add 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 6-8 ounces of hot water.
- Drink 2–6 cups of this a day, sipping slowly throughout the day.
- ROOT FOR RAW + LOCAL HONEY: honey has potent anti-viral properties making it part of the perfect “Mary Poppins” concoction for sore throats. A spoonful of honey DOES make the medicine go down, right.
- Manuka honey for sore throats in particular
- SEEK OUT SLIPPERY ELM LOZENGES: Slippery Elm is a “mucilaginous herb” coating the throat gently to reduce soreness and help you bounce back faster.
GOT THE FLU?
- SIP ON BONE BROTH ALL DAY: bone broth [which you can of course make or buy at the store] will hydrate you and serve as a “trickle” of protein when you don’t feel like consuming much at all. The healing nutrients in bone broth are incredibly stimulatory to the immune system as well.
- OPT FOR OCCICILIUM: Occi-what? Yup you heard me. Occicilium is a homeopathic remedy that has been touted to shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms. [it can be purchased at Costco these days as it truly has garnered so much attention due to it’s therapeutic effect.]