Did you know that what you put in your digestive tract (and what you keep out) can help determine if you stay healthy this winter?
That’s because more than 70% of your immune system is housed in your gut!
Below are some of our favorite tips to boost your digestive and immune systems and increase your chances of staying healthy this winter (and actually year-round):
- Scale Back on Sugar and Processed Foods
This is THE single most important thing you can do for better immunity. Most people don’t realize that sugar is a major immune system depressor. Those extra sweets you eat actually affect the ability of your white blood cells to kill foreign invaders. At the same time, don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, as they bring on their own set of health concerns. To help satisfy your sweet tooth without raiding the cookie jar, look to get naturally sweet foods in your daily diet. Choose fruits and sweet veggies such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes and winter squashes.
- Get Your Greens and Mushrooms
Green veggies including kale, romaine lettuce, collards, broccoli (you get the drift) are packed with nutrients to fuel your body with vitamins and minerals that help strengthen your cells to ward off not only the common cold, but other chronic diseases as well. Great ideas on increasing your greens can be found HERE. We are also huge fans of mushrooms, including shiitake and maitake. They are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, and naturally occurring chemical compounds that enhance immune functions. Shiitake has been used in traditional medicines for thousands of years as a health tonic, and is often prescribed to prevent tumor development and the growth of cancer cells. They are easily found in any supermarket.
- Warm up to Warm Foods and Drinks
Ayurvedic philosophy holds that eating warming foods in the fall and winter is vital in order to keep the body healthy and balanced. It suggests that the metabolism works harder to keep us warm in the winter, and therefore the “digestive fire” must be adequately fueled with warmer foods and drinks. Too many cold, damp foods like salads and smoothies can sap the body of energy and even leave it vulnerable to illness during the fall and winter. We favor veggie packed soups and stews along with plenty of herbal teas like ginger (also great for the immune system). Other great warming and immune-boosting drinks include chicken broth (homemade is ideal, but if not – look for organic), warm lemon water and other teas such as chamomile and peppermint.
- Ramp up the Vitamin C
Take 500-1,000mg of vitamin C morning and evening. Vitamin C ramps up your immune system and keeps natural killer cells performing at their best. Look for a brand that contains bioflavenoids in addition to the C for enhanced effectiveness. If you are already feeling sick, power up your dose and be sure to have some liposomal C on hand.
- Drink your Elderberries
Take a teaspoon of elderberry juice/syrup daily. Not only does it taste yummy, it is a powerful anti-viral packed with serious antioxidants which support the immune system. In fact, two double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical studies found that black elderberry supports the body when challenged by foreign invaders, and rapidly restores health following immune challenges. Get a good organic brand like THIS one, which can be found in most health food stores. Feel a cold coming on? Up to 2 teaspoons per day.
- Cozy up to Essential Oils
Nothing has been more beneficial to warding off illness than our beloved essential oils. They are amazingly effective in combating colds and flu and bolstering the immune system. From peppermint, melaleuca (tea tree), oregano and our immune boosting blend and more, we have several formulas that we are now using with great success. Check out our suggested starter kit HERE and/or contact us if you want more info regarding these oils and how they are used (bonus, we also use them to help with sleep and stress – see below).
- Stomp out Stress and Get your zzzzz’s
Stress is a HUGE immune buster. If you find yourself struggling with lots of it, make it a priority to seek out some stress reducing activities such as meditation, journaling, warm baths, enjoyable exercise, or anything that acts as a stress reliever (once again, the essential oils are our go-to for this). A healthy immune system also requires rest. Commit to turning off the tv/computer/ipad/cellphone by 10pm (or earlier), so you can get a decent night’s sleep.
And there’s more! We have compiled a whole list of effective and useful tips, ideas and recipes to support you. It’s all packaged into our Immune Tune-Up guide which you can access HERE. This includes:
- Our masterclass on immune system basics and how best to support your immune system
- Guidance on how to upgrade your diet for optimal immunity using specific foods
- Over 25 delicious immune-supporting recipes you can use year round
- Optimal immune stocking kitchen guide
- Supplement guide with our top choices for prevention
Don’t wait until you feel that stuffy head, sore throat or the chills to support your immune system! Start now so you can ward off illness before it sets in.
Jane and Stephanie, creators of PM Meal Mastery™, help women over 50 go from overweight, frustrated, and inflamed to lighter and healthier so they can be more active, feel good in their body, and live the second half of life with energy and confidence. Their 3-pronged approach, which can fit into any lifestyle, encompasses not only wholesome energizing foods but powerful habit and mindset shifts.