There’s no avoiding it, cold and flu season has arrived and you will undoubtedly run into people who have fallen ill. Whether you want to avoid sickness all together or you are currently fighting off a virus, the tips below will help you strengthen your immune system, decrease your number of sick days, and give you the tools for a fast recovery.
Eat Your Way to A Healthy Gut
Your immune system lives in your gut (70% of it to be exact) and it requires a lot of nutrients to keep you healthy and at your best. If you have a poor diet, viruses and bacterial infections will hit you harder and keep you down for longer than those who eat well. Having a balanced and nutritious diet allows your body to respond to invaders quickly and efficiently.
Since a healthy immune system needs a healthy gut, you should focus on eating foods that will improve your gut microbiome. The best way to do this is through decreasing inflammation, increasing the number of good bacteria (probiotics) that live in your gut, and feeding that bacteria whole, unprocessed foods (prebiotics).
The Best Foods + Drinks To Have
1 – Prebiotics (2-4 servings/day)
Vegetables: asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions
Starchy Carbs: barley, beans, oats
Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, kiwi
2 – Probiotics (1-2 servings/day)
Dairy: Yogurt and Kefir (with live and active cultures)
Fermented Products: kombucha, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut
Supplements: Start by taking anywhere from 5 – 15 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units).
What I’m using: Genuine Health Advanced Gut Health Probiotic 15 Billion CFU
3 – Bone Broth (aka “bone stock”) – contains collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline all which support the immune system, reduces intestinal inflammation and improves digestion.
*Note – this is not the same as bouillon or commercially manufactured stock.
You don’t have to use every example here to be healthy. Try a few, find out what works best for your taste buds and lifestyle.
Best Practices For Lasting Immunity
While nutrition is number one when it comes to supporting your health, there are several things you can do to strengthen your immune system and destroy germy invaders.
Avoid Under-Eating. Whether long or short-term, restricting your calorie intake suppresses your immune system function and its ability to respond to invaders.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight. When you take in more food than your body needs the excess energy is stored in fat cells. This type of cell causes an inflammatory response that tricks your body into activating an immune response. Over time your body gets tired of this “crying-wolf” and doesn’t respond as it should to a harmful invader.
Wash your hands.
Exercise. Research has shown that consistent, moderate intensity exercise can prevent the growth of bad bacteria, helps you fight infections, lowers stress hormones, and improves the efficiency of your antibodies and white blood cells.
Even the healthiest diet in the world can’t protect you from EVERY invader.
So, When You Do Get Sick…
If you’re hungry – eat. If you’re not hungry – don’t eat. Once you begin to get your appetite back, focus on eating a variety of colourful vegetables and protein. This will help restore any metabolically active tissue that was lost while you were sick.
Eat Garlic and Drink Green Tea. Taken separately, these will lessen the severity of flu symptoms and help boost antibodies.
Raw Honey. Add this to tea or hot water to suppress coughing, and for the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Chicken Soup. This classic remedy restores fluids, electrolytes, and is an anti-inflammatory. Try making your chicken soup with chicken bone broth to boost your immune system and restore your gut health.
What do you do to avoid illness and help yourself recover? Let me know by commenting below.
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