September marks the start for a lot of my favorite things. SEC football, tons of apples, and a slight break from the scorching heat. But the one thing I absolutely dread is the return of “sick germs”. Uck! Now I know that these said germs are around all of the time. But for some reason, it seems like everyone around me gets sick in September! Maybe it’s the stress of starting a new school year or maybe a depleted immune system due to a summer of “vacation eating”. No matter the reason, it’s important to boost your immune system during this time of year. These 7 steps have helped me stay well more times than I can count. And we can all agree that staying in good health is the optimal goal, right! So let’s get to boosting your immune system![ninja-popup id=3836 autoopen=true]
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7 Ways To Boost Your Immune System
1- Eat In More Than You Eat Out
I count myself lucky to have the means to eat out when life gets too busy to handle. But honestly, I have started fighting the urge to just grab something when I’m exhausted. It all started when I went through the line at my favorite Mexican chain and the preparer was straight up sick…a runny nose and everything. And this was the person up front that I COULD see! From that moment, during flu and cold season, I limit the amount of hands that touch my food. This includes all pre-made foods, precut fruits/veggies, and restaurants. Cooking at home helps keep me in charge and minimizes the amount of germs entering my body through the food I eat.
Now, I know there are days…and weeks… you just don’t have time to do all of the planning and shopping eating at home takes. I completely get it! In comes Sun Basket – your eat at home hero. Sun Basket allows you to pick out meals in advance and have the ingredients shipped to you in an insulated box ready to prepare. What I love about them is the ingredients are all non-GMO and organic, hormone free, locally sourced, and pasture raised/sustainably caught products. You can choose from gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, or chef’s choice to support your dietary needs. This makes eating at home so simple! To give it a try click here. They offer $30 off your first order, free shipping, and a money-back guarantee!
2- Wash Your Hands
This is a no-brainer. But here’s the point I want to make with this. Wash your hands without chemicals! You naturally want to wash your hands when you are out in public places but the soap provided typically contains harmful chemicals. You are completely defeating the point if the soap you use to remove germs can also weaken your immune system. Since the whole point is to boost your immune system I like to stick to a healthy soap option. My favorite is [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FUMSBJA” locale=”US” tag=”sustainab09a-20″ popups=”n”]Dr. Bronners liquid Castile Peppermint Soap[/easyazon_link] in the trial size. It easily fits in my purse and makes germ removal easy!
3- Take Your Vitamins Religiously
It’s no secret that the food we eat is where we should get our vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, studies show that the quality of our soil and the crops it produces contains up to 40% fewer vitamins and minerals than it did in 1950. This is where supplementation comes into play. The two vitamins that I take regularly to boost my immune system are Vitamin D and Vitamin C. Both are incredibly important to the front lines of your body’s defenses. Your body cannot make or store vitamin C independently making dietary choices and supplementation necessary. It is also estimated that 90% of your vitamin D intake comes directly from sun exposure. With the majority of us, hiding from harmful sun rays taking a vitamin D supplement can be beneficial to your immune system.
When choosing supplements, please keep in mind not all are created equal. Research the company you plan to purchase from and be sure you are comfortable with their standards and transparency. You can have your vitamin D levels tested by a naturopathic physician to see if supplementation is necessary. If you would like suggestions on supplement brands, please contact me and I’ll be happy to share!
4- Keep Your Gut Healthy
Do you know that over 80% of your immune system is found in your gut? And that, due to what we put into our gut, over 70 million Americans are affected by digestion diseases. No wonder people are sick all of the time! Keeping the proper balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut is crucial to boost your immune system. The “good guys” can be killed off due to toxins, stress, and dietary choices leading to a weakened and sluggish immune response. Adding healthy bacteria back into your system in the form of probiotics keeps your body functioning properly and helps your immune system stay strong. Be sure to consume a mixture of probiotic-rich foods (fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut) and high-quality probiotic supplements.
5- Cut The Sugar
This is the one I struggle with the most! But an excess of sugar, especially processed sugar, weakens your immune system. According to Health Services at Columbia University, eating 100 grams of sugar, equivalent to the sugar in 1 liter of soda, makes your white blood cells 40 percent less effective at killing germs crippling your immune system for up to 5 hours. Sugar competes with vitamin C for space inside your white blood cells. It contains a similar chemical structure and can be mistakenly pulled into your cells during an immune attack instead of vitamin C. It also kills the good bacteria in your gut making your immune system weak, to begin with. Limit your sugar to only all natural versions like fruits, honey, and maple syrup. And follow the world health organizations recommendation for daily sugar consumption levels.
6- Find Ways To Manage Stress
No longer do we ask someone “are you stressed?”. In this fast pace world, we live in stress is a given, expected even, on a daily basis. But our bodies were not designed to stay in continual fight or flight mode. Chronic stress can weaken your immune system as well as open the door for potential life threatening diseases. Even if you don’t right now you will eventually feel the physical strain of the emotional stress your body is under.
First things first, remove as much unnecessary stress as possible. By this, I am referring to the stress you are unknowingly personally inducing. Find ways to manage your expectations and your time wisely. For me this took realizing I couldn’t be everywhere, have everything, and be everything for everyone. Not for a lack of trying or Pinterest hunting mind you. Once I took the pressure (aka guilt) off myself I felt a weight lift. I’ve never been one to “not care” (I’m a people pleaser…I’ll admit it) so it is a constant challenge. But reducing my stress and staying healthy is worth it.
So what do you do when things come at you that you are not in control of. And let’s be honest, unless you move to a mountain top and shun the world, this will happen. I’m a big advocate for meditation and prayer. But in that moment I find the practice of mindfulness to be super helpful. To take myself mentally out of the immediate situation, focus on my breath, and become in tune with the process instead of anxious of the outcome. This slowing of the mind is important to boost your immune system and gives your body a chance to rest from the overload of stress present in today’s world. Try it, you’ll be happy with the outcome.
7- Keep Your Environment Clean With Essential Oils
Keeping your environment clean is just as important as keeping your insides clean. And if you are reading my blog then you are probably familiar with my viewpoint on chemicals. (If not, read Toxic Beauty Chemicals!) Removing toxins from your home is crucial to building a strong, healthy immune system. I personally 100% vouch for using essential oils throughout your environment. There is something so powerful about the secondary chemical compounds found in plants. They can be antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, etc. Why not put these powerhouses to work keeping me well! If you want to know more about the essential oils I use to be sure to click here.
Over the month of September, I will be sharing my four favorite DIY recipes to boost your immune system. These include my DIY Hand Sanitizer, Fall Immunity Diffuser Blend, Immune Boosting Night Oil, and DIY Disinfectant Room Spray. These are four of my favorite ways to keep my environment germ free and healthy. As I post each recipe, I will link back here for easy reference (If you see the links now they have been posted – check them out!) If you are reading this in real time, however, be sure to sign up for my emails to be the first to see these recipes as soon as they are online.
Happy, Healthy Immune Systems
Getting sick every season doesn’t have to be something you dread or that you even count on. That’s crazy! Take charge of your well-being by being proactive this cold and flu season. These 7 steps have helped me stay well and I know they can help you too. Let’s work together to stay healthy this Fall and have the best harvest possible. Because you know, pumpkins are right around the corner!