Each year I am determined to try to keep our immune systems as supported as possible. There is no doubt we are going to be exposed to everything…but I hope my family's immune systems are strong to fight off invading illnesses or, if we do get sick, to help us heal quickly.
There are numerous things you can do to support a healthy immune system!
10 things to support a healthy immune system
This is one of the top ways to keep your immune system strong in my book. Lack of sleep can make it easier for us to get sick AND make it harder for our immune systems to get us well. According to the Mayo Clinic
“Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”
So be sure to go to catch those z's to keep your immune system strong!
Do you have trouble sleeping? Check out one of our favorite resources for beating sleep troubles.
Eat Real Food
Eating a diet full of real food and nourishing ingredients is critical to maintaining your overall health and wellness. Heavily processed foods, refined sugar, unprepared grains, etc. tend to weaken the immune system. We especially limit our sugar intake, particularly when we feel we are getting sick or have knowingly been exposed. Sugar, in particular, lowers your immune system's fighting power for several hours after ingesting.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil has been used for centuries. Our grandparents and great grandparents probably all grew up on it. It does not have a pleasant taste but the health benefits are worth it. It is rich in Omega 3 and Vitamins A and D. We take a Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend that is quite palatable. Sometimes we chase it with Ningxia Red or Elderberry Syrup (see below).
I use a variety of essential oils to help with immune support all year long, but particularly in the winter. One of our favorites is the Thieves oil blend which is a blend of cinnamon, clove, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus. I add a few drops to an empty veggie capsule, a spoonful of honey or yogurt or to a cup of tea. I like to use Young Living Essential Oils. There are plenty that are considered dietary supplements that can support a healthy immune system. I like this immune support recipe as well.
You have probably already heard that 80% of your immune system lies in your gut. Well, this is where fermented foods comes into play! Fermented foods are full of vitamins, enzymes and good bacteria that keep your gut bacteria happy. When you have poor gut flora, there is more opportunity for illnesses to take hold. We have a variety of fermented recipes and a tutorial for how to make fermented foods at home. In the winter, my family also uses a powerful probiotic supplement in addition to eating fermented foods.
NingXia Red® combines the extraordinary wolfberry superfruit with pure Orange, Yuzu, Lemon, and Tangerine essential oils, along with blueberry, aronia, cherry, pomegranate, and plum juices to deliver a whole-body nutrient infusion. This powerful formula includes wolfberry, which is touted for its health-supporting benefits, while ongoing research continues to reveal exciting new properties on this ingredient. Enjoy NingXia Red daily to energize, fortify, and revitalize the body and support overall health and wellness, from head to toe. It is also available through Young Living Essential Oils.
We love taking our homemade Elderberry Echinacea syrup every day. We take it plain, mix it with NingXia red or even use it to flavor our homemade kombucha tea. Sometimes I even make Elderberry Gummies with it! According to Nutritional Healing, echinacea has been shown to possibly fight inflammation, bacterial and viral infections. It is good for the immune and the lymphatic systems. It is helpful for allergies, colds, flu and other infections. According to Nutritional Healing, elderberry is thought to fight inflammation and relieve coughs and congestion. It enhances immune system function, lowers fevers and soothes the respiratory tract. It is very effective against flu viruses.
While my family is getting some Vitamin D from the cod liver oil, in Chicago, we definitely need to supplement (most Americans probably would be well advised to supplement). We use these Vitamin D drops and take between 2000 to 4000 IU per day. According to Dr. Mercola
“Vitamin D has a remarkable role to play in your health, influencing nearly 3,000 of your 25,000 genes, and playing a critical role in your immune response — a role far superior to the synthetic (and often harmful) immune responses that vaccines elicit. Vitamin D could rightly be described as a “miracle nutrient” for your immune system, as it enables your body to produce well over 200 antimicrobial peptides, which are indispensable in fighting off a wide range of infections.”
A couple of years ago, I asked my doctor (who does not get the flu shot nor does he recommend them to healthy individuals) what he does to stay healthy in the winter (he never gets sick). He gave a lot of the usual responses (real food, sleep, cod liver oil, etc.) but one surprised me. He said he uses a neti pot every night. He said he is around sick children and adults all day, every day and he uses the neti pot to flush out any bacteria that may be hanging around up there. I always used a neti pot when I had a cold but never preventatively. Now I try to do this on a more regular basis. Sometimes I use this saline spray with my daughter as she still has a tough time with the neti pot.
According to SCD Lifestyle
“The common cilia in a average person’s nose contains a build up of environmental and natural irritants that it has a hard time getting rid of. While these irritants continue to stay housed in the sinus cavity the immune system continues to react and fight against the foreign inhabitants. By removing them on a daily basis the nasal passage is cleared and the immune system can rest, reducing hyperactivity and chronic reactions. “
Regular Chiropractic Care
My family swears by regular chiropractic care. The benefits of chiropractic are numerous and it can help keep your immune system strong. If you central nervous system is clear at the spine, subluxation free, then the communication highway between organ/tissue/cell and brain is open and the appropriate changes that may need to take place can be monitored and changed more effectively. This will allow your body to do what it is supposed to do!
Those are my tips and how my family tries to keep our immune systems strong. What do you do to keep your immune system strong during cold and flu season? Do you do anything different? Would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Immune Boosting Soup from Mary Vance, NC
Epsom Salts and Immunity from Dr. Oz
Sleep and Immune System from WebMD
Prevent Cold and Flu from Chris Kresser
Wintertime Immune Support from Dr. Mark Hyman
Elderberry Benefits from Nutritional Healing
Benefits of Vitamin D from PubMed
Benefits of Neti Pot from Dr. Mercola