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Tis the season for colds and flus! For some reason this year seems even worse than usual. Once a person gets over one cold, they seem to catch another! Why are so many people dealing with weak immune systems? Let’s go over why this happens and what we can do to fix it.
A poor diet will be one of the BIGGEST reasons why people are constantly getting sick. The Standard American Diet is full of refined sugars, fake foods, and artificial sweeteners and these are foreign invaders to the body that will not help strengthen your health at all. Obviously, we want to always aim for a clean, real foods diet but it is especially important to follow this to keep your immune system strong.
Fresh fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats and dairy, herbal infusions, lots of grass-fed butter and coconut oil and real sweeteners (used moderately) are part of an ideal diet. Yes, I know it’s the holidays and we all cheat- so try to make your own desserts with REAL ingredients. That is what Pinterest is for! Search for Real food recipes. Read all about the “Ideal Diet” here.
Stress is inevitable in life, but there are many ways that we can learn to handle stress. Since chronic stress is so damaging to our health, we can actually lose important nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and zinc when we are under stress. Our adrenals take the biggest hit from stress, and in turn our immune system weakens.
How can we help cope with stress better?
- Supporting your adrenals is crucial in order to prevent recurrent infections.
- Herbs like oatstraw, lemon balm, rhodiola, lavender, or a formula like Stress Manager from Herb Pharm can help immensely, especially under times of acute stress.
- Yoga- everyone knows about yoga, but not everyone likes doing it. Yoga has been one of the most popular ways to help de-stress for a long time. Even finding a few yoga positions that help you can help immensely. I like legs-on-the-wall, child’s pose, cat-and-cow, and corpse pose
- EFT (aka Tapping)- Emotional Freedom technique is not new, but it has been garnering a lot of attention over the last few years in the natural health field. This method used meridian tapping to harness your body’s energy to heal itself.
- Buteyko breathing- A friend introduced me to this method this year, and I will forever be grateful. It truly is a great way to calm yourself down before bed, or if you wake up in the middle of the night, or even in the middle of a panic attack. It actually helps the healing of a lot of different ailments as well!
- Find a hobby, go for walks in nature, or even talk to friends on a daily basis!
Chronic and underlying infections
When our adrenals and livers are weak, when we are nutritionally depleted, and when we are constantly exposed to stress we are at a huge risk of developing chronic infections. In a perfect world where our minerals were balanced, we would NOT be able to harbor these gross pests like parasites, yeast, bacteria, and viruses. Bioavailable copper is the MOST critical nutrient for keeping these nasty things at bay. Nearly everyone has copper dysregulation and other mineral deficiencies at this point- and these are just 2 of the major issues out there that are plaguing people.
What are the most common issues?
- Epstein-Barr virus: If you have ever had strep throat or mono in your life, you likely are a carrier of EBV. EBV tends to stay dormant for the most part, but stress can reactivate it. If your immune system is especially weak, you can have a chronic mild activation of EBV as well. Please read a lot more about this here, including how to test and treat for this illness.
- Parasites: Or as I like to call them in my big bug post, creepy crawlers. Some people can be harboring parasites for years, even decades, without ever noticing. We pick up parasites from under-cooked foods (pork is a huge offender), unwashed produce, international travel, pets, and inadequate hygiene.
- Yeast: You cannot look on a natural health site without seeing the word “Candida”! It seems to be the supposed root cause of nearly everything out there. However, all is not as it seems. Many people spend years on sugar-free diets and anti-fungal herbs but these are not addressing the REAL root cause: copper dysregulation. Getting copper balanced is a huge piece of the puzzle in strengthening the immune system.
What to do to support the immune system
- Elderberry Syrup: Elderberries are one of the best immune boosters out there. There is a lot of evidence that elderberry syrup is so strong that it is an effective treatment for the flu! Elderberries are high in vitamin C, which we know is a crucial nutrient for immune health. Elderberries are anti-inflammatory but they have a laxative, diuretic, and expectorant properties. Find the recipe here!
- Cod Liver oil: Vitamins A and D are absolutely crucial for immune health. There is so much focus on vitamin D these days, but vitamin A is likely an even more common deficiency. Cod liver oil has the BEST ratio of these 2 vitamins, especially when it is a good quality product. My favorite CLOs include NutraPro, Rosita’s and Nordic Naturals. Read the breakdown on my favorite cod liver oils here!
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a very important nutrient for immune health but we have been lied to about what true vitamin C is. 90% of the supplements you will see out there that have “vitamin C” on the label are really ascorbic acid which is just the shell of the vitamin C complex. . Read all about whole food C here. Ascorbic acid can actually cause copper deficiency while whole food vitamin C supports proper copper balance. Copper is an antioxidant and another nutrient that is needed for proper immune health.
- Fire Cider: This is some STRONG stuff! You can find recipes for fire cider all over natural health sites, so I recommend finding one that appeals to you. Usually, this concoction includes garlic, onions, apple cider vinegar and some hot peppers and you take a small dose each day to help with preventing infections.
What are your go-to immune boosters for the winter? Let’s talk in the comments!