Boosting Your Immune System Naturally

We are bombarded with pathogens (bacteria, viruses and fungus) all year around, but are more susceptible to catching the flu during the months of November to April, and some of us seem to pick up every bug that crosses our path.

So why is it that some people are constantly fighting a flu while others seem to breeze through the season?

The integrity of the immune system is the main determinant of an individual’s susceptibility to the cold and flu. There is nothing more powerful than strengthening your body’s immune system as a way to protect yourself from the cold and flu season.

7 ACTION STEPS TO BUILD YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

If you want to avoid getting the flu this winter, follow these seven proven techniques for boosting your immune system, fighting off germs, and keeping your body healthy!

  1. Get enough sleep. Your immune system functions much better when you get enough sleep. Most people really need about eight hours per night for optimal health. If your body is fatigued, it simply won't be able to fight off the flu virus (or any other infection) very well.

  2. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps keep your immune system strong.

  3.  Avoid sugar. Even small amounts of sugar can significantly impair your immune function, making you more susceptible to a flu infection. A large amount of sugar, such as the amount found in a normal can of soda, hurts your immune function for hours.

  4. Drink lots of pure water/herbal tea. Keeping your mucous membranes well-hydrated is a key to helping them fight off viruses. Shoot for about eight-ounce glasses per day.

  5. Reduce stress with daily meditation or deep breathing. Too much stress has a highly negative impact on your overall health and, over time, it will make you much more susceptible to a flu infection. Studies show that prolonged stress is at least partially responsible for 90% of all illness and disease. Regular exercise and sufficient sleep both help reduce stress levels. Meditation and deep breathing is a proven stress-buster that is easy, enjoyable and can be used on a daily basis.

  6. Wash your hands often. Also, carry a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently, especially after you touch anything that others have touched recently (like doorknobs).

  7. Get fresh air every day. During the winter the dry heat from indoor heating systems dries out your mucous membranes and makes you more susceptible to viruses. Bundle up and get outside for a walk or crack open a window or two to give your body some relief.

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INCORPORATE IMMUNE BOOSTING FOODS IN YOUR DIET

Eat immune-boosting foods on a daily basis. A healthy diet, including a few proven immune-boosting foods, is one of the best ways to avoid catching the flu. The best flu-fighting foods are:

  • Fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables - Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are packed with healthy phytonutrients that can strengthen your immune system, lowering your susceptibility to the flu virus.

  • Fresh raw or lightly-cooked garlic - Garlic has strong natural antiviral properties that can help to fight off a flu virus. Also, garlic provides a strong boost to your immune system, especially when eaten on a regular basis.

  • Green Tea - Like garlic, green tea has shown the ability to both kill viruses and to stimulate the immune system to fight off flu infections, especially when used daily. Try to drink three (3) to six (6) cups of strong green tea per day during the flu season.

  • Cayenne Pepper - Cayenne has a long list of health benefits and is believed to be a mild immune-booster. Also, cayenne contains large amounts of natural vitamin A, considered to be an important "anti- infection" nutrient.

SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Here are the basic supplements to support your immune system. These are recommended for all:

  1. Probiotics 10 billion or more bacteria per day. Take with meals. (The acidity in the stomach will kill the good bacteria if not taken with food). Always keep refrigerated. Use a professional brand as Genestra or SISU.

  2. Vitamin D 8000 IU daily (3000 IU for children). Try to find a liquid form for better absorption. You can also get your Vitamin D levels checked to see if you are deficient.

  3. Pascoleucym, the natural flu shot – homeopathic preparation. Use as directed. This is my all-time favourite acute remedy. I always have this stocked in my medicine cabinet and I never leave for vacation without it, even if it’s just a weekend away!

You may want to consider a little extra support if you’re the person that seems to be catching multiple colds and flu each season.

  1. Immu Core (Multi for cold and flue season) This is another great supplement we can’t keep on our shelves over the cold and flu season. It contains antioxidants such as zinc and selenium, and medicinal herbal mushrooms to support the immune system.

  2. Multi-B Vitamin complex 50 mg – 100 mg/day or use as directed.

  3. Vitamin C 500 mg- 1000 mg

 

Remember getting sick once in a while (one to two times per year, with healing in a reasonable time frame) is actually a necessary part of building and strengthening the immune system.

When the immune system gets activated during a cold or flu it’s able to build up antibodies (immune army) for future pathogenic invaders!

Download Your PDF Copy of our Immune-Boosting Recipes Below

5 Ways to Increase Water Intake

Water intake is a struggle for so many.  I constantly have to remind myself to drink my water. Thirst naturally decreases with age, and this means it is easier to become dehydrated as we age.  

To combat this, here are my favourite tips to help keep your body well hydrated:  

  1. Drink the biggest glass of water first thing in the morning: This is my best tool for hydration.  I find it helps to initial my thirst response and it feels good getting so much of my water goal into me before my day begins.  Often, I will pour it the night before and put it on my night stand so it's right there and ready to drink first thing in the morning! This is a simple habit to incorporate into your daily routine beyond the cleanse.  Getting a good start on hydration is always beneficial.  
  2. Keep track of your water intake: purchase a reusable stainless steel bottle (1 - 1.5L) and fill it up in the morning and challenge yourself to finish it before the work day is over at 6pm.
  3. Add flavour: squeeze some lemon, lime, orange or cucumbers to your water for extra flavour (avoid Crystal light and other aspartame based sweeteners).
  4. Add ice: cooler water seems to go down easier for some people.
  5. Include herbal tea, freshly squeezed juices or bone broth to keep your hydration strong: check out  Distinctly Tea for amazing tea and their very own Detox Tea; Goodvibes Juice & PURE Juice Bar + Kitchen delicious freshly squeezed juices and Bone Broth can be found at better health food stores and grocers. 

Support Your Cleanse with Water, Water, and More Water

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Optimal water intake is essential during a cleanse!  It's one of those habits you want to exercise and plan to keep up beyond the cleanse.  So many unhealthy symptoms can be improved simply by increasing water: better skin, less constipation, reduction in headaches, and increased clarity.  

Water helps to move toxins out of our body either through our skin, bowel, urinary, or respiratory organs.  Since cleansing increases the mobilization of toxins, it's important that we do everything possible to support the elimination of toxins.  When toxins are not being eliminated properly they just stay in our system.  So drink water - lots of water.

You maybe wonder how much your body needs?  Well, it all depends on your size and level of activity and how much you’re sweating.  A general guideline is approximately 2L or 8 glasses of water, herbal tea, or broth per day. 
 
If you are exercising or sweating a lot you will need an additional cup of water for each 15 minutes of exercise/sweat.

Always listen to your body.  When I am dehydrated I start to bite my lips.  Others may experience increased headaches.  The easy way to assess if you're hydrated is to look in the toilet bowl!  If your urine is quite clear and odourless, you are well hydrated!

CLICK HERE for your Toilet Bowl Hydration Chart.

The Power of Colour and Phytonutrients

Simply aiming to include a rainbow of colours at each meal can significantly change the way you enjoy your food.  Not only is a colourful plate of food very beautiful and appealing to the senses, but it also will ensure you're getting the wide array of phytonutrients in your diet.  

Plant foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, and tea) contain thousands of natural chemicals. These are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals. "Phyto" refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals act like a natural pesticide and help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. Phytonutrients also give plants their rich colour and flavour.  In fact, when crops are sprayed with commercial pesticides it stunts the natural production phytonutrients.  You may have noticed that organic foods tend to be more flavourful and deeper in colour then conventionally grown food.   

Phytonutrients help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.  More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods. Some examples include:  Carotenoid, Ellagic acid, Flavonoids, Resveratrol, Glucosinolates, Phytoestrogens.  Check out the list below for top phytonutrient rich foods!

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Red and purple grapes
  • Red wine
  • Tea (green, black, oolong and white teas)
  • Cocoa - aka dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • Cruciferous vegetables - cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, brussel sprouts, broccoli, arugula, collards, radish, watercress, sprouts
  • Yellow onions and scallions 
  • Celery 
  • Turnip 
  • Citrus
  • Garlic
  • Parsley, thyme, mustard, tumeric
  • Chickpeas and legumes