BUILDING AND MAINTAINING A STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM
BOOSTING IMMUNITY: Tips for Keeping your Immune System Strong
Let us live responsibly and take care to support ourselves to the best of our ability so that we may be more healthy and resilient. There is a lot more than hand washing that we can do to help prevent illness, although hand washing is great! The more we can do to build a strong defense within us, the better we are able to prevent illness beyond us. I believe that lifestyle choices and diet have a big impact on our health, and are the best protection we have to stay well throughout the seasons. It also feels more empowering to be proactive, rather than reactive with the fear based approaches to avoiding illness. Here are a few of the key things I do for myself and my family.
EATING FOR IMMUNITY
One of the most important things to consider is that we can only be as well as our digestion. So this is a good place to build strength- in the gut. Without healthy digestion you will not be getting the most of all the good things you are giving your body. Culinary herbs and spices are important to incorporate into meals (to help boost circulation, clear toxins, and encourage healthy digestion). We make a batch of herbal broth (full of medicinal mushrooms and herbs to boost the immune system) at least once a week and use this as a base to all soups and stews, and to cook beans and grains in. Slow cooked foods are easiest to digest and we are not yet in the season of eating more raw foods. It is also important to get plenty of soluble fiber and consume raw fermented foods daily (these are your prebiotics and probiotics). Food is our first medicine for creating a foundation that is strong. For example, legumes not only feed your microbiome with healthy prebiotics, but they also cleanse the body- this is why traditional ayurvedic cleanses use kitchari and dahl to clear the body of toxins and pathogens. Beans should be consumed throughout the day. They are truly medicine.
In addition, it is important to avoid sugar. No matter what your dietary needs are, limiting sugar intake is important. Sugar is very taxing on the immune system and causes a lot of inflammation in the body. I don’t count fruit as sugar (but do avoid it if there is inflammation in the body from a cold or other illness). Fresh fruit is best because the sugars in dried fruit are more concentrated. Another top priority for optimum health is hydration. Often people become dehydrated without realizing it. Drinking lukewarm filtered water in small amounts throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated. The dry heat is working against you so you might actually need more water while it is running. This helps your body naturally eliminate toxins and other bacteria that may cause illness. Herbal teas can be a great option in addition to water. Not only does it feel good to have a warm drink to sip, but you can include herbs that offer additional immune support, or other support depending on what your needs are for the day. In addition to lemon or lime we also like to add apple cider vinegar or fire cider to our water.
Foods high in vitamin C and zinc are great to focus on for immune support. Some of our favorite foods for zinc include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lentils and legumes, chocolate, avocado, and Suu Kuu Celery Lime Tonic. For Vitamin C we like guava, parsley, bell peppers, kale, spinach (raw), kiwi, broccoli, brussel sprouts, papaya, lemons, mangoes, and oranges. Liposomal Vitamin C is the best option if you are in need of supplementation.
DAILY PRACTICES FOR IMMUNITY
The first thing you do in the morning affects the mood of the entire day. As soon as I wake up I take a few minutes to stay in bed, take a few deep breaths, practice gratitude, and set an intention for the day. Then, I scrape my tongue of all the toxins expelled through the night, brush my teeth, and rinse my mouth with Mouth Moon Immunity Mouthwash. Gut health starts in the mouth so this is a very important part of my wellness routine. In addition to the herbal support for a healthy mouth and gut the CBD in Mouth Moon helps to set the tone for a good day. Remember the mind body connection is powerful so we must be offering support and nourishment to our emotional and physical bodies.
Lowering stress is one of the best things you can do for your immune system. Activities that bring you joy, uplifting conversations with people you love, laughing, and relaxing are all of great value. Positive emotions can increase the protein expression of the immune system by 49%. We can benefit from noticing what activities feel uplifting and what activities feel draining. Try restructuring your schedule to make more time for yourself in ways that feel nourishing and say no to some of the things that deplete your energy.
Time spent outdoors is very life giving- the fresh air and sunshine are both important for immune health and stress reduction. Even as little as twenty minutes a day can have a huge impact on well being. We use an app called D minder to find the most opportune times to get out. Sunrise and Sunsets are especially nourishing.
Another important thing to consider when trying to support your immune system is reducing toxins externally. I advocate for a diet rich in vibrant naturally grown non GMO whole foods, but also take a look at your self care and home care products and make sure they are not loading you down with toxins that make your immune system weak.
Daily massaging the skin with healthy oils is another way to build immune strength and reduce stress, but if you are sick or bleeding this practice should be avoided. This practice pairs well with a warming bath. Taking care to keep the body warm is extremely important. Warm baths and saunas can help to clear toxins, and build heat in the body. I am very strict about wearing proper clothing especially in the transitional seasons. It is especially important to keep feet, head, and neck warm.
Sleep is crucial for staying well. You will get the best sleep if you can have a bedtime before 10pm. At our house we are done with screens once dinner starts. This has improved sleep for me. I don’t watch movies or tv shows so that makes it easier, but if you enjoy those activities just pay attention and note if they are interfering with sleep. Experiment with less days a week, or watching earlier in the day. Dark subjects can affect emotional health and stress levels so be mindful of that too. If you are looking for more ways to get the 7-9 hours of sleep your body needs check out Leanna’s recommendations.
Another thing I do to keep my nervous system supported and at ease is making time for meditation everyday. In addition, I take our Sea of Serenity Adrenal Support. Both of these help me to move through the day more grounded and present. I notice stressful situations don’t have as much of an affect on me as a result.
CBD FOR IMMUNITY
Sea of Serenity is full of nervines that can work to heal your nervous system, but it is helpful beyond the support it offers for emotional, and mental health (which as mentioned are of great value to immune health as well). CBD is a wonderful immune modulator- interacting with our immune system to help create balance, detecting malfunctioning cells and through the process of apoptosis (cell death) stops the production of further growth. Cannabinoids work to modulate activity and keep balance- making sure that there is not an overproduction or underproduction of cell death. New studies have discovered that CBD has the potential to slow the production of a virus. Therefore, if someone is infected they may be more likely to recover quickly and without secondary infections. In addition, CBD can be helpful in reducing symptoms of viral infections if they do present. CBD is also known for having powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Ultimately, the best way to fight illness is to prevent it. Keeping our immune systems strong is what should be of importance, not just when there is an outbreak, but as a part of our everyday. I feel that CBD is one of the best things you can take to create a strong, efficient, and effective immune response. It is very well rounded in the support it gives in this way.