Avoiding illness has taken on a new level of awareness since the pandemic. It is a silver lining positive that came out of that situation as I believe many of us have taken for granted our health and what it means to prevent illness. Before, it was common to push through a cold under the guise of just being a little bit sick or having allergies as to not scare anyone near us. Colds and other illnesses would pass freely among our co-workers and kids at school without too much guilt. These days we are all aware of the need to stay away when we are ill and take care of ourselves more. We all relearned singing “Happy Birthday” when washing our hands. No one wants to be the person who was responsible for making the entire office sick.
Each year when a new school year begins it is common to see a large number of children get sick a few weeks later. A stomach bug will wipe out a classroom or a cold will come through the office. These viruses and bugs then get passed through the family until everyone has a turn at it. These situations can easily take over a month to get through the household and get everyone feeling back to normal again.
All of these illnesses can be traced to our own immunity systems response when we encounter germs, bacteria and viruses. These are not things to be eradicated necessarily as we actually need them to strengthen our immunity. In fact, over doing it with toxic cleaners, sprays and other methods to kill germs can cause a reverse effect of weakening our immune system leaving us exposed to illness. Using germs to our advantage can be key to building health strength. It is when our defenses are low that we often run into problems immediately avoiding exposure that leads to us feeling under the weather.
Typically, common illnesses result from being unprepared for close encounters with others and closed environments that limit our outside time with the changes in season. Preparing our immunity for these situation is the best way to prevent illness and ensure our body is best positioned for a speedy recovery if we do encounter something.
Why Digestion is Key to Immunity Health
Over 70% of our health is derived from the digestive process. The immune response is directly tied to the digestive system. It is the first system to respond when there is a problem in an attempt to protect the body until homeostasis is restored. Homeostasis is the delicate balance of our body’s internal environment that works to cancel out threats to how it functions. It responds quickly to trigger responses through the body’s nervous system to signal where help is needed. When it reaches our immune system it too quickly puts into place the activities needed to respond to any form of threat to our health.
All of our cells rely on the digestive system for support to their functions. Energy comes into our body through foods we eat and are processed through our digestion to extract what the body needs. When our diets lack these nutrients our body shifts to a survival mode making due with what it has and alerting you for help. Over time if these nutrients are not received the body will being to weaken and further signals for help will get louder, usually in the form of illness.
The ability to use our diets as a way to promote health and well-being is not new. It is however, the most overlooked when it comes to daily living. From chewing adequately to taking in good quality foods our body needs, it all matters for digestive well-being. Sadly, too many of us have a sugar and salt addiction that prevent nutritional needs from being regularly met and our digestive system struggles to maintain proper function. This of course impacts all the dependent systems, including immunity.
If you struggle regularly with cravings, heartburn, IBS and other digestive problems it is a sign you need to work on your digestive health. Starting here ensures our immune system can also improve. Including a good high quality probiotic and digestive enzymes are key. It is also an ideal time to break up with sugar, fake sugar and processed foods as those are not helping your digestive system heal.
Immunity is a Year-Round Maintenance Protocol
While we often think of illness as a seasonal event, preventing illness is a year-round maintenance need. If we wait until autumn to consider our immune system needs we are risking our health quite literally.
Daily multi-vitamins, probiotics and digestive enzymes are cornerstone to building foundational health. A diet that contains fresh and fermented foods is also important. When our cells are supported nutritionally, our immune system is best positioned to respond regardless of season.
It is also common to see movement decrease once the time changes in late Fall. As the daylight grows shorter we commonly find we have less energy and do more chilling on the sofa in the evenings. Rest is important and Fall points to our natural need for more rest. Balancing the need for rest with movement is different for everyone. Pushing yourself through tough workouts and ignoring your body’s signals are sure ways to trigger immune response.
Hydration is important year round. As the weather cools however, we often turn away from water even more. We seek comfort in the form of warm foods and drinks that unfortunately do not replace what our body needs in daily water. Personally, I have found when this happens to me, if I decrease the ice in my water and add in a couple drops of essential oils I can still get in water during winter months. Using citrus oils is beneficial because it will trigger our limbic system that associates citrus with happy feelings. Aim to drink half your body weight in daily water using a non-plastic source.
Immunity Protection with Back to School or Office
With the return of many going back to the office and school buildings, we can once again expect a normal influx of illnesses to arise. Again, while not all of this is bad, the recent pandemic will have many returning to high alert. The use of highly toxic cleaners and disinfectants is a go-to for many as a result. This can cause weakened immunity of otherwise healthy cells. Our bodies cannot process chemicals and exposure to them, even seemingly innocent ones intended to protect us, are a threat to our health. Therefore, I really see two lines of defense needed. The first for normal illness exposure and the second against the arsenal of chemicals in popular use.
For the toxic exposure to chemicals in the air, on surfaces and all around us it is vital we prepare beforehand. This is where wearing a mask may actually help you. By slowing the intake of exposure our body has a chance to build defenses against those chemicals. Long term exposure to chemicals can have devastating effects to our health, including cancers. Some tips to help are:
AVOID areas where multiple chemicals are applied as much as possible
WEAR a mask to minimize how much you intake through the respiratory system. Normally, I find little value in masking but when it comes to chemical exposure it at least provides a little delay in how much we breathe in and can gives us a little sense of peace in these situations.
GET natural air as much as possible by stepping outside
CHANGE your clothes as soon as possible to avoid skin reactions and further exposure
For exposure to common illnesses, again prevention is the best medicine through our immune systems. My tips for you on this include:
HYDRATE with adequate water to keep your body enabled to flush out potential threats
AVOID people who are sick, appear sick or have recently said they were sick. Too often people rush back to activities without much time to completely recover. Even if they are without a fever or vaccinated, they can still be carriers to others
WASH your hands frequently as well as change your change your clothes after work and school
USE natural ingredient hand sanitizer and soaps (there are portable versions that make this easy to have with you)
DIET matters! Eat a vitamin rich diet to ensure your body has what it needs to be prepared
SLEEP well. Consistently follow a bedtime routine and support your health through sleep. It is when we sleep our body does its repair work so we are strong the next day.
Top 8 immune boosting vitamins from foods
When you can get your vitamins through food, you get the best for your body to process those vitamins for health. Including vitamins in our diet helps us not only manage our weight but lowers risk to our body through reducing cholesterol and blood pressure for example. It also fuels our body with what it needs to make energy. What most don’t realize is our adrenal system and emotions great improve with a good diet as well. It actually feels good to us to eat good food!
The article I found from the Cleveland Clinic does an excellent job listing by vitamin the top sources found in foods. (link at bottom for the full article)
Vitamin C – Spinach, Kale and dark leafy green veggies
Vitamin E – Almonds, nuts, peanut butter
Vitamin A – Sweet potatoes, carrots
Vitamin D – Fish, whole dairy, orange juice
Folate – NOTE: the synthetic version of Folate is Folic Acid – beans, lentils
Iron – Tuna, beef, oysters
Selenium – poultry, meats, seafood
Zinc – yogurt, chickpeas
Supplements and Vitamins – Do we really need all those pills?
Our diets, even when we follow a relatively healthy one, often lack needed vitamins and minerals. This is the result of depletion in soil, food growth and processing systems, and mass production. While it is fantastic to get summer fruits and vegetables year round, these foods are not as natural and can lack nutrients.
As a result it is necessary for the majority of people to supplement their diets with vitamins and minerals. There are many different brands, types and price points for vitamins to choose from. In fact, the vitamin industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world. When choosing vitamins these are some points to consider:
Bioavailability – this is the absorption quality of the vitamin. Look for pure, natural food based ingredients for highest bioavailability
Testing – look for the company website details on how they test their ingredients and where it is done to check for quality
Ingredients – again check for food based ingredients and capsule ingredients that are non-GMO, vegan based containers
When it comes to what vitamins you need, we are all different with personal health needs to support. In general though these are the vitamins to include in your daily routine:
Omegas 3, 6, 9
Beyond these you can personalize any additional supplements based on your needs and goals. I personally like the supplements I get through doTERRA for multi-vitamin, probiotic, digestive enzymes and calcium. These are thoroughly tested and have a money back guarantee if you don’t like them. I like the fact they are based on food ingredients and consistent. (for more information on these check out: https://doterra.me/CmlxdkCt )
For Vitamin D, choose an emuslated version, often found in chewable forms. This helps with absorption through your digestion.
How to work with me
For help with your natural health questions and finding support that is unique to you, schedule a consultation with me. Together we can target specific support for your health needs and goals wrapping you in nature for true healing and support.