11 Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Simple, holistic tips to fight illness and strengthen your immunity PLUS what you can do if you do get sick, to fight it quickly.
Go With Your Gut
I can tell you from personal experience that the very best way to ward off chronic illness, colds, flus, infections, allergies, food sensitivities and controlling / avoiding autoimmune disease is to heal and strengthen the gut! With 70-80% of our immune system’s cells occupying our gut, this is home base for our vitality and wellness. Our gut bacteria helps the immune system’s T cells develop—teaching them the difference between a foreign substance and the body’s own tissues. Without these important immune soldiers doing their job to protect us, the nasties get in, they slip by the troops, invade, wage war, take over and it’s not fun!
With years of comprised digestion, intestinal bacterial overgrowth and finally being diagnosed with a parasite, I personally spent a solid decade to 15 years, getting terrible sinus infections, several times a year, every year, most times it then eventually evolved into bronchitis and upper respiratory infections. I got every single strain of every cold, flu and stomach bug that passed through town – I even battled the Swine Flu when that was a thing. On top of all of that, I suffered for many, many years with a variety of environmental allergies – ALL of this stopped when I finally healed my gut and prioritized proper digestion. It’s magical really. But, it’s not. It’s simple.
As you’ll hear echoed many times throughout this article, and if you spend more than about 5 minutes chatting with me at any given time, our gut is vital to our immune health and it’s the control center for our bodies to decide what is friend and what is foe. I highly encourage you to prioritize optimizing your gut, both for the cold and flu season ahead, as well as the future of your overall health and wellness.
Along with tips on strengthening and healing your gut, here are some tips to Naturally Boost Your Immune System:
Why Are We Talking About Fat?
The reason I write this post, is that even though, for so many us, we have woke to this knowledge and have worked hard to reframe our approach to nutrition and no longer fearing the fat, we still have so much work to do. After many decades of low-fat propaganda, the “fat makes you fat” rhetoric is still so deeply ingrained in the collective psyche. Many people STILL greatly fear fat, even though study after study shows that fat is not only harmless 1http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract but that it is in fact, quite necessary to many important functions in the body. I myself see this fear weekly in my nutrition clients, all over the internet and in my social feeds, at the grocery store, at restaurants, at the gym, etc and of course, all of the many side effects of low fat eating – we HAVE to change this dialogue!!
It is beyond challenging to decide where to even start on such a huge, huge topic. Chatting about dietary fat is a big undertaking and we are going to merely just scratch the surface with this initial post, decoding the myths and where the fat fearmongering began, along with the crucial reasons we need fat in our diet. So, let’s get to the basics.
First and foremost you need to know that fat is a necessity in our bodies. This vital macronutrient provides building blocks for the brain, hormone and cellular membranes throughout the body, it is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and it is deeply hydrating!
By adequately increasing my healthy fat intake, more than any other change I have made in my lifestyle and diet, I have personally seen profound affects on my health, from my digestion to my skin including chronic hormonal and cystic acne, from my moods to my ability to concentrate, hormonal imbalances to libido (YUP!). Fat is a powerful anti-aging food, both internally and externally. Consumed as part of a healthful diet, fatty acids (the building blocks of fat) help stabilize blood sugar – allowing your body to release fat, protect it’s lean muscle, and surge with energy. When our focus is on creating meals that are rich not only in healthy fats, but also quality well-sourced proteins and fibrous green leafy veggies, we can thank especially the healthy fats for keeping us satiated. Staying satisfied for longer means so you won’t find yourself searching for the junky, processed snacks in between these healthy, whole food meals.
References [ + ]
1. ↑ http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract
I’m very excited that as Tasty Yummies evolves in 2016 and a brand new website is on the horizon, to be bringing you more content, beyond food, to support your individual healing journeys. I hope you enjoy.
How Stress, Energy and the Subtle Body Can All Play a Role in Your Healing
Over this past year my ongoing healing journey has taken on many different faces and the path has very much evolved along the way. I have shared bits and pieces here on the blog, but so much of this past year was so up in the air and very changing, that most of the time this was something I chose to keep to myself.
Having been diagnosed with an autoimmune form of kidney disease late in 2014, my main goal in 2015 was to figure out what I needed to do to get this disease into remission. At the start of the journey, the biggest struggle for me to overcome, was the fact that I seemed to have no real outward or debilitating symptoms of the kidney disease, it was only discovered through a routine life insurance physical the year prior. However, after a brief time where my fear got the better of me and went the western medical route, including several rounds of varying pharmaceuticals, slowly this symptom-free girl found herself with a lot more issues. In turn, I had also found myself overcome by fear and feelings of helplessness.
As my state of mind shifted, so did my health. I began seeing a naturopathic doctor in January 2015 and we began the slow and arduous process of healing my body, first by approaching what could be (and for most people usually is) the underlying problem, my digestion. After the several rounds of prescriptions drugs for my kidneys, my gut was quite unhappy and the rest of my body also began suffering because of it. My naturopathic doctor suspected leaky gut, among other possibilities and this began the shift in my focus towards gut healing.
I spent the better part of the year trying out various protocols, elimination diets, supplements and so on. There were periods of great relief where I had felt better than I had in a very long time, as well as many stretches where I felt terrible, my body likely responding as it does, to the healing process. In the times of struggle it was hard for me to keep a positive mind. When I felt like I was doing absolutely everything I could, life began feeling limited because of the various protocols and plans I had committed to and my healing became, at times, at the center of my consciousness – my life truly felt like it was in a holding pattern because of it. I began to identify as someone being imperfect and I put things, goals, on hold until I “felt better”. It is inevitable that I hit my breaking point in the later part of last year.
For me, the true realization that my healing goes beyond physical, began as I chose to honor myself more deeply and recognize unhealthy habits, that I was inadvertently choosing to ignore. My amazing naturopathic doctor often asked at the start of my appointments what my stress levels were and most times I exclaimed “Oh, me? I have no stress, I am good! Life is great”. I have news for you, just because you are positive person, if you choose not to acknowledge or dwell on stress or emotional distress, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t there doing harm, deep in the darkest depths of your soul. It’s there wreaking havoc, I can almost promise you. Ironically, the realization came for me during one of my school lessons in the Nutritional Therapy Program I am currently enrolled in. As we covered the digestion module, we talked at length about the need for our bodies to be in a parasympathetic state when eating. Our digestion works best when we are in a rest and restore/digest state vs the very common sympathetic fight or flight mode.
I realized how often I was actually eating meals under stress. While cleaning up the kitchen from a long day of recipe development, while reading, watching TV or standing over the kitchen counter cooking another recipe or some other unnecessary task that had my mind preoccupied. In doing so, my body wasn’t truly acknowledging, honoring or respecting the fuel I was feeding it. Even on a physical level, you chew less and quicker, swallowing larger bites and giving your digestion even more work. This for me, was step one in realizing that healing my body required so much more than taking a few supplements and changing my diet. Any healing protocol needs to be multi-layered approach, to be effective.
Just in this single realization alone, honoring the body’s need to be in a more relaxed state for proper function, I saw instant results in my digestion and I also began to acknowledge other areas of my life I was holding onto stress and other stagnant emotions. I am not saying this solved my underlying problems or cured me for good, but it was a small first step in a large overall problem and I was happy to see that a small change, could make such a large improvement. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways for all of us, but recognizing it’s presence, acknowledging the source and taking steps to lessen it, are vital in the healing journey.
ENERGY and THE SUBTLE BODY
As a yoga teacher, I was already very aware the roles that the subtle body plays in our health and vitality. Yoga, meditation, exercise, these have all played a big role over the years, in my choice for a more mindful lifestyle. All bringing a deeper awareness of the flow of subtle energies in and around the body, I have always honored the role that these subtle energies play into my health and vitality. If we can look to our life force energy as a source for our overall balance, health or ease, then we can assume it’s lack is the cause of imbalance, illness or dis-ease.