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Arming Your Immunity During Flu Season

January 22, 2015

Young beauty caught a cold

The holidays are over, the new year is here and the kids are back in school.  You know what that means?  Exposure to many, many icky germs.

It seems that every time I turn around, somebody else I know is sick, or their child is sick as well. The flu has hit the nation big time, and from what I have seen with friends, it is not pretty.

However, you don’t have to have a school age child to be susceptible to getting sick.  Public places such as work, theatres, restaurants, restrooms are full of germs as well, not to mention the gas pump handle. Yuck!

So what are we to do? I know there is the flu vaccine, but some of us do not believe in getting one, and others still get the flu even with the shot. I am also not just talking about the flu. What about a wonderful stomach virus to bring you down, or just plain old cough and sniffles?

According to Harvard Medical School, boosting ones immunity seems “enticing”, but has proven to be elusive. Mainly because the immune system is not just a single entity, but is just that, a “system”¹. An intricate system that is dependent on all other functions of the body to be in good working order as well.

Sleep, exercise and lifestyle are all very important aspects to ensuring a smooth running machine, but diet plays a KEY role as well.

What we eat and provide our body is so very important to how our bodies function. We give our bodies the nutrients it needs and in turn, our body’s systems work the way they should.

In my family there are some mandatory items that we eat and use throughout “cold season” to help support our immune system and do our best to keep it healthy.

Diet – Eating a diet that is rich in whole foods, that are nutrient dense and void of toxins is what we aim for. I say “aim for” because even as a nutritionist, our eating habits are not always perfect. Every cell in our body relies on the food we eat for fuel and the ability to carry out their individual function. Eating foods that are high in essential vitamins and minerals, full of anti-oxidants and phytonutrients is how to ensure your body is getting what it needs.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) – Cod liver oil has been around forever and if you talk to your parents, they always remember having to take their daily spoonful of clo.  This practice went out of fashion, but it has made its way back into many people’s health routines. FCLO is a rich source of Vitamins A, D and Omega 3’s.  One of the benefits of Vit. D, is it helps strengthen the immune system by giving the cells what they need to help trigger an immune response to bacterial threats.  Vitamin A deficiency has also been known to impair the immune system and increase one’s risk of infectious disease.¹

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Bone Broth – I make my broth from organic, pastured chicken bones or grass-fed meat bones that I pick up at the farmers market. At any given time, I have a pot of broth brewing, jars in the freezer or one in the fridge.  I use broth in a lot of my cooking, but I also have my son drink it regularly.

One of the great benefits of bone broth, is it helps “heal and seal” your gut, plus it is chock full of nutrients. Medical science through many studies is discovering how dependent the strength of our immunity is based on a healthy gut. Chicken also has cysteine, an amino acid that helps thin out mucus in your lungs.²  So, there really is something to grandma’s chicken soup and healing.

Fermented foods – I have friends who love to rib me about always talking about fermented foods, and one day, I will get them to try them.  I am not sure why fermented foods get such a bad rap, but I will admit to thumbing my nose at them for a very long time.  Then I tried them.

One of the most popular type of fermented foods is sauerkraut. I believe so many of us have memories of stinky kitchens, bad German restaurants, or Heinz jarred sauerkraut and the thought of eating these foods turns our stomachs.  True, good fermented or cultured veggies, taste nothing like the above.

Going back to the health of our gut and our immunity. Scientists say 80% of our immunity is housed in our gut, and our guts strength is dependent on the amount of “good” bacteria we have. Probiotics play a big role in populating our guts with friendly bacteria, but fermented foods not only offer a plethora of different strains of bacteria, but they are also much friendlier on the food budget.

Fermented sauerkraut

Fermented sauerkraut

Essential Oils – Everywhere you turn these days, it seems someone else you know is selling essential oils. However, oils have been around for centuries and have been a routine staple in holistic medicine. According to Dr. Cech, ND:

“Each plant’s oils have a unique makeup as a result of the plant’s own physiology, natural environment, and its potential microbial invaders. Because of their chemical structure, essential oils are easily absorbed into the human body, passing through cell membranes, then further on into the bloodstream due to their ‘lipophillic’ nature (a structure in alignment with the lipid components of our cell walls).

Essential oils can protect us from microbes in many different ways, from keeping the space around us naturally microbe-free, to readying our immune system for defense, to actually destroy the microbes once they’ve entered our bodies.”³

Every day before my son leaves for school, he gets a drop or two of oils on his feet or on his spine. If I am traveling, know I am going to be in a space with lots of people, or that there may be sickness around, I dab oils on myself as well.  There are many essential oil companies out there, but personally, my favorite is Vibrant Blue Oils.

Vibrant Blue Oils

Vibrant Blue Oils

 

There are many other practices and foods you can bring into your daily routine to help you stay strong and healthy. These five are what I call my “arsenal” to try to help me and my family stay healthy throughout the cold season.

Do you have any specific routines you use to ward off nasty “cold bugs?” Please share in the comments.

To your health,

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Are you ready to take your health and wellness to the next level?  Let’s talk today.

 

References:

¹- http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906676/

² – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx

³ – http://www.pureinsideout.com/essential-oils-for-cold-care-and-immune-system.html

 

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