When it's the cold and flu season, do you or your kids seem to catch everything going around, and always get a bad case of it?
If so, then you're being given a warning and it's time to learn how to build up your immune system.
A friend's doctor told her something that makes perfect sense to me: a healthy immune system doesn't mean you'll never catch anything (although you'll catch much less of what's going around), but it means that if you do catch a bug and your immune system is doing its job, you'll have milder symptoms and get over it quicker.
This made even more sense to me recently when I had the flu.
The real flu. Not the stomach bug that we used to call the flu. Influenza symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, and cough. Thankfully, it was very mild and short-lived. The first day I took a couple short naps, and was very achy with a low-grade fever and sore throat, but I still had energy to do some things around here and I even ran an errand (don't worry, I wasn't near other people). I got a lot of sleep and tried to drink a lot of fluids, but wasn't great about that. The next day my symptoms were much improved and I just took it easy, got more sleep, and made the most delicious tasting vegetable beef soup ever, with homemade beef stock and plenty of onions and garlic. That was all that sounded good and it hit the spot – homemade bone broth, onions & garlic, are very healing – all you've heard about chicken noodle soup is true! (Not the kind from the store, though.) That was it, only a couple days of not-too-bad symptoms.
By the way, no, we absolutely do not get the flu shot. Read more about that here.
So anyway, all of this reminded me how important it is to continue to eat well at all times. That way, when you get sick and none of the natural remedies that you might want to try sound appealing at ALL, instead of forcing extra supplements down or whatever else you should be doing, you can just let your immune system do its job.
10 Tips for How to Build Up Your Immune System:
1. Get enough sleep (I've gotten so much better about this!) Thankfully, I’ve never dealt with insomnia, but my best tip is to read a book that a friend recommended, Say Good Night to Insomnia. Also, your mattress may be the problem. Click here for the best non-toxic mattress. Or click here for a more affordable one that people have been going nuts over lately!
2. Take your cod liver oil! The vitamin A & D in here are powerful immune system boosters and this superfood is also a natural anti-inflammatory. I also take extra Vitamin D daily on its own to help fight off sickness or keep it away. These are all nice mood-boosters too, especially in winter when you're not getting Vitamin D from the sun. (Be sure to take these with a good K2, more about that here: What you MUST take if you're on Calcium or Vitamin D!)
3. Decrease the toxins in your life and try to source more nutrient-dense foods. Hopefully you're already trying to avoid processed foods, fast food, soda, etc. and are striving more and more to eat mostly whole foods (foods with only one ingredient). And moving toward more organic foods is best, especially if you're NOT eating a whole food, so your body doesn't have to deal with all the rotten preservatives, pesticides, and GMO‘s found in store-bought foods. Especially important is the meat you buy – find safe healthy meat from a local farm or from this trusted online source. Read more about all of this in my book, Real Food for Rookies.
4. If you're really sick or have long-term issues, look into a strong probiotic (<– I take that one and actually take it daily as a preventative), also try to get more fermented foods & drinks into your diet – like yogurt, Kefir soda pop, Kombucha, fermented veggies, etc. (Find fermented food starters here to make your own fermented foods.)
5. Drink bone broth or make soups to get in more of this nourishing food! If you just don't think you'll have time to make it yourself, this kind tastes like homemade PLUS they make it just like I do and it's organic and grass-fed. It's great for gut-bone-skin health too.)
6. Eat enough healthy fats! I really do think this is the main reason our family is rarely sick, we eat a LOT of pastured butter, lard, beef tallow, coconut oil, antioxidant-rich real olive oil, and food tastes so much better this way anyway. Don't let anyone tell you these fats aren't good for you, because they ARE. Read more here.
7. Vitamin C is important from vitamin C-rich foods like sauerkraut. (Also peppers, kale, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, pineapple, etc.)
8. Exercise is important, especially taking a nice walk and breathing in fresh air — this can do wonders, especially with a good friend you can talk to. 🙂
9. A few things I've listed are part of the Gaps Diet (cod liver oil, fermented foods, broth, etc.), but for some, in order to build up your immune system, you may need to take it further and implement even more of the GAPS Diet principles. (Also get the GAPS book here.)
10. Find ways to cut the stress in your life. I know, I know, many of you don't see a way to do that. I feel like that at times, too. So here are 2 more tips then: 1. Learn an easy way to relax, at least for a moment, in the midst of the stress, and 2. Read about someone at my other blog who can help you get through the tough times in your life.
What did I forget? What have you done to build, or heal, your immune system? (Be sure to check the comments for great advice from readers!)
- Do germs really cause disease?
- Is our environment too clean?
- Myths about what really makes us sick
- Are you under stress in your life right now? Health & Nutrition not high on your priority list at the moment? It's OK.
- Should you get the flu shot?