And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
The “common cold” and the flu can be made up of hundreds of different viruses, and many of us spend the cold and flu season watching virus after virus cycle through each member of our family. Sickness affects our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being; it’s very difficult to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength when you or your kids don’t feel well.
Listed below are 5 ways to boost your immune system to help you keep yourself and your household healthy. A strong immune system will increase your chances of fighting off the cold or flu. Many of these recommendations won’t cost you anything but taking a little extra time for yourself or making different dietary choices.
1. Take immune supportive micronutrients and herbs
There are many micronutrients and herbs that can be a great benefit in supporting your immune system. The best way to obtain nutrients is through your diet, but even the healthiest of diets can leave us lacking some essential nutrients. No matter what your diet may be, around cold and flu season, adding these to your life can greatly benefit you.
- Vitamin C. Potent antioxidant that can help fight free radicals caused by toxins and oxidative damage. Some great food sources are red and green peppers, strawberries, oranges, kale, and broccoli
- Vitamins A & D3. Both vitamins are helpful for immune health. Research suggests that they are most effective when taken together. Red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables are great sources. Sardines, salmon, eggs, butter, sunflower seeds are all good sources. Cod Liver oil is a great natural source of both A&D vitamins of as well as essential omega 3 fatty acids.
- Selenium. Selenium helps to balance and regulate the immune system. Most people get enough in their diet, but taking a little extra during cold and flu season can help. Taking this as a supplement is not advised for any longer than a few weeks. Chicken, fish, red meat, and nuts are rich sources.
- Zinc. A very crucial part of a healthy immune system which many people don’t get enough of. Oysters are one of my favorite snacks and the canned variety are very affordable and delicious, if you are into that. If not, try chicken, grass-fed beef/lamb, spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, and cacao powder (raw and organic variety).
2. Limit sugar intake
Sugar isn’t just in the cakes and cookies we normally associate it with. It is in pastas, sauces, yogurts, and other food claiming to be healthy or natural. Recent research done by UCSF shows that added sugar is hiding in 74% of packaged food. Also most people don’t understand that bread, crackers, pasta, etc, are known as refined carbohydrates and process in your body just like sugar. Sugar from these sources causes oxidative damage and inflammation which can leave you susceptible to illness.
Substitutions for Sugar:
- Stop or lower fruit juice consumption or substitute herbal tea instead
- If you need a sweetener then use stevia because it is a low glycemic sweetener (use liquid variety because the powder has other ingredients)
- Add extra vegetables and starchy vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes as a substitute for breads and pastas. Cauliflower rice is becoming more prevalent in stores and restaurants as well. It is very easy to make yourself by using a cheese grater.
While too much high-intensity exercise can actually cause more of a stress response and harm to the body, I’m going to assume that most of us are not in danger of that. Most people know that it’s healthy to work out but most don’t know that it can actually help you not get the cold or flu. Some research shows that “moderate-intensity exercise improves immune function and potentially reduces risk and severity of respiratory viral infections.”
Stress is healthy in normal levels, but today there are many more stressors than ever before. There are many studies that show the connection between stress and illness and disease. This stress is compounded by a standard american diet (SAD) which is high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and unhealthy fats (vegetable oils, trans fat, imbalance of Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids) which add more stress and inflammation to the body. Excess stress hormones also diminish vitamins in the body especially C & B.
Ways to reduce stress:
- Eliminate food allergens and toxins
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing
- Yoga & Meditation
- Walking in nature
Easier said than done for most people, but it is true that the body needs to rest in order to heal. Even taking a short rest period during the day can make a big difference when it comes to supporting your immune system. Studies have shown a strong association between lack of sleep and stress, lower test performance, and depression. Also the quality of sleep can be disrupted by modern technology though exposure to light. Studies have also shown light exposure into the evening and night can disrupt melatonin regulation (hormone that helps you sleep) and our bodies natural circadian rhythm.
- Dim lights at night
- Use blue light filters on phone and laptop
- Turn off screens a few hours before sleeping if possible
- Establish a routine for when you go to sleep and wake up