Winter is here and with it many bugs as immune systems can be weakened during the colder sedentary months. Your immune system helps protect you from invaders, and also impacts almost every other system in your body from your hormones to your brain health. By boosting immunity you’ll have better digestion, more energy, clearer skin and more.
First, how do you know you have a weakened immune system? Here are some obvious signs: low energy, irritability, restlessness, inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, frequent colds, gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, irregular stools and more. If this sounds like you or even one of the above, you could benefit from boosting your immune system.
Your immune system has a lot to do with your gut health, but also is a collection of white blood cells throughout your body. There are two goals of these small cells which are to address issues inside the cells and attack infections outside the cells. Health can be compromised when things interfere with the cells ability to respond to the areas they influence.
There are some surprising factors that can impact immune cell function that you should know about. The first is pesticides which are contaminants we spray over our ground and cover the produce we eat. It’s important if you’re not buying organic to carefully wash this produce. I like to soak any fruit or vegetable that is not organic in a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to ensure the pesticides are removed. The second is heavy metals. These can be found in your water, foods such as large fish and even in your mouth from mercury fillings. In fact, if you have more then one or two silver fillings, chances are you have heavy metals in your body that has leeched from your teeth. A few tips to help are to let your drinks cool down before sipping, supplement with zinc as it removes mercury and use the herbs coriander and parsley as well as spirulina, chollorella and garlic to help remove the mercury. Thirdly, hormonal imbalances can weaken the immune system. Some contributing factors include the high amount of stress we have today from physical, chemical, emotional and environmental factors. Increased stressors as well as an increase in processed foods raises the hormone cortisol, and impacts other hormones as well as thyroid and blood sugars all weakening immunity. Lastly, the imbalance of good to bad bacteria in your gut which can lead to malabsorption issues can really impact your immune system.
So, what can you do to boost immunity? Well, besides avoiding pesticides and heavy metals, the key to boosting immunity is to optimise digestion and ensure a proper gut environment. Some foods can be very harmful to your immune system. The first food you want to avoid is sugar and artificial sweeteners. High fructose corn syrup appears to be in a lot foods today, so ensure you read labels to avoid this highly processed sugar. Avoid foods that are low or no sugar as chances are that artificial sweeteners have been used to replace the natural sugars. Sugar has over 100 different names so it’s hard to know what is what, but just know that many condiments and dressings are packed with sugar and should be limited. The general rule is women should have no more then 25-30 grams a day, and men shouldn’t have more then 35-40 grams a day. The second food you should stay away from is processed foods. I actually don’t even consider these foods as they are loaded with so many non-food ingredients such as preservatives, fillers, colourings and flavour enhancers. These non-food ingredients make the food hard to digest and if food isn’t digested it can lead to inflammation in the GI tract weakening immunity. Lastly, avoid hydrogenated oils such as the many vegetable oils out there: canola, soybean, rice bran, corn oil and more contribute to inflammation that can lead to high cholesterol. Stick to the healthy oils such as extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, organic butter and ghee as these can actually boost immunity.
Lastly, you can boost immunity by nourishing and protecting your gut. The first step is to ensure proper digestion by chewing your food, not eating on the run to ensure blood is going to digestion and not drinking with or around your meals, (so as to not dilute your stomach acids). Then nourish your gut with probotic rich foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. These are all fermented foods and drinks that populate your gut with strains of good bacteria to boost immunity and improve absorption of nutrients from food. If you would like to try to brew the kombucha tea or water kefir from home, I have grains that can get you started – it’s quite delicious!
So, why not begin to boost that immunity and have a sick-free winter! I'm here if you would like to know more or book a consultation.