The 5 Ways I Support My Immunity… before and after a bug attacks.
Did you know that roughly 80% of your immunity is in your gut?!
When I learned this fun fact, I was shocked. I had no idea. At the worst of my health, and when I was just starting to make healthier changes, I quickly learned how impactful a strong immune system was for my overall health.
Plus, since 80% of your immunity is in the gut, I found that as I focused on gut health, SO many things improved, not just my immunity.
In this blog, I’m going to solely focus on immunity though, including things I use for gut health. Yet, this topic goes far beyond any single blog could go. Everyone’s body, lifestyle, diet, are environment is so different. So, at the very least, this may provide an example for consideration.
I will include detailed articles from Dr.Axe. He has always been a trusted resource, with articles that are easy to read and digest (pun intended).
This blog is just things that I specifically do to improve my immunity, BEFORE and DURING an illness.
Not only did it become my soda replacement, but I appreciated it for it’s support in my gut health. This fermented beverage is usually derived from black tea and is loaded with a good source of good bacteria for your gut. You can now find it at nearly any main grocery story or large general retailer that has produce, like Target. You will get the most variety of flavors and brands at a local co-op, Fresh Thyme or Whole Foods.
You can easily make kombucha at home too. I did try this for a period of time myself.
ARTICLE: To learn more about it’s benefits, how it’s made and more: https://draxe.com/nutrition/kombucha-benefits/
2. Apple Cider Vinegar (WITH the “Mother”).
This is a crazy cool liquid. It has been shown for so many health benefits (internal and external), but you only need very little to pack a punch!Plus, it’s been around for thousands of years. Because it has “the mother” (fermentation), it works as a great way to boost your immunity, either BEFORE OR AFTER you catch a “bug”.
Sometimes, I try to drink a short shot of ACV or I mix it with raw honey to tone down the vinegar “shot to the face” (LOL!). I have also added it to my homemade salad dressings as well.
This is a “must have on hand” at our house!
3. Fermented Foods.
Just like Kombucha, we focus on eating fermented veggies, yogurt, etc. I have yet to make some of my own (I plan to as it’s not terribly hard to do), but instead we buy some at our local co-op. Some other stores like Whole Foods or Fresh Thyme also have some. Even some farmers sell some at farmer’s markets. The common ones we eat at home are pickles and sauerkraut. These are fermented using salt, water (aka. brine) and usually spices.
Until I started learning more about fermented foods, I didn’t realize the difference between these and the typical store bought fermented foods. Real fermented foods need to be kept cool, and usually in a glass jar. For example, most pickles found at a typical grocery store are NOT fermented. They are made with vinegar and sit on the inside shelf unrefrigerated.
The gut and immunity benefits are great, but these foods taste so good too. If you have ever had a real German brat with sauerkraut, you know what I mean.
Some other fermented foods (I’ve tried nearly all of them): Kefir, tempeh, natto, kimchi, raw cheese, Kvass, and even sourdough bread!
ARTICLE on fermented foods: https://draxe.com/nutrition/fermented-foods/
4. Supplements: Vitamin D, C and Zinc
First off, these 3 supplements are great for immunity boosting. It’s always good to know what your vitamin D levels. It may be good for you to request a test from you doctor annually, or get an at home test for $35-45 from a company like Everywell.com. (You get a kit, follow instructions on administering the test, then ship it to a lab. Your results will be posted on your online Everly account in a week or two.)
If you live in the northern half of the U.S., most likely you have low Vitamin D levels, especially in the colder months, when we get outside less and the sun’s impact is less. Dr. Mercola explains this well in his book “Effortless Healing”, but sun exposure on a large portion of your skin for 20 minutes, will get you the most vitamin D you will need. Yet, many of us don’t do that outside the summer months when the sun is high and powerful. Supplementing is key for many of us. I always get tested. If you feel like your levels are low, ask your doctor for a test.
Quick story… many years ago I got a test done from my doctor. I was in the low 20s (in the insufficient range) and I had to be diligent in supplementing, especially during the Fall, Winter and Spring months. I also found out that my husband had lower levels that I did! Eek!
At least once a year, I still purchase the at-home test to keep tabs on my levels.
Here are some great ARTICLES around Vitamin D:
Did you know that your body doesn’t store or make it’s own Vitamin C? Did you also know your body can show signs of vitamin C deficiency? It’s vital to get this in foods like oranges, lemons, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and kiwi, just to name a few. Knowing that it’s a great immunity booster, it’s ideal to consume it in your diet, but supplementation works too.
Ever hear of Camu Camu? You can get this superfood (high in Vitamin C) in a powder form that you can add to smoothies, juice, water, etc.
As for zinc, we have taken this supplement (a type of metal and mineral), the most since the start of 2020. It’s another one that your body DOESN’T produce on its own. You need to obtain it from your diet. It also has many other health benefits besides immunity (i.e. antioxidant, hormone health and even diabetes). Gotta love that!
I take zinc daily especially during the Fall, Winter and early Spring. If I get the feeling I’m getting sick, I make sure I take it as well.
This powerful anti-viral herb/flower is a “must have” at our house at all times, but especially in the Winter. When we get that initial “I just feel off’ feeling, this (including the supplements noted above) is my first line of defense. We only use this when we feel something “coming on”, and use it only until the symptoms subside.
This herb/flower has benefits beyond this (check out the article below), but as strange as it sounds, I swear I can feel it working/fighting when I take it. What’s also cool is that the whole plant is used as medicine, but it’s the upper part of the plant in the tincture. The brand we have purchased is called “Herbs for Kids” and is in a tincture form. We, the adults, even take it. (We are kids at heart I guess.)
This plant is absolutely amazing! Check out all that it can do, even outside of fighting off a cold. This ARTICLE is one of my favorites. https://draxe.com/nutrition/echinacea-benefits/
So, when I was at my sickest, I wasn’t eating well, I didn’t exercise much and I was consuming loads of sugar and caffeine. All of that was taking a major toll on my body. I was sick at least once every winter. Many times a common cold would turn into sinus infection or bronchitis. Back then I depended on “sticking it out” or taking an antibiotic, not knowing it was killing off the good (with the bad) bacteria in my gut. I’m happy I learned that I could arm my body’s defenses, so I don’t get sick as often and when I do, I can handle it and recover quickly.
One last note, I didn’t put this on this list, but it really goes without saying that stress levels and adequate sleep are key to keeping your immunity in check too. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. When it’s activated, our body shuts down our immune system to allow us the opportunity to fight off the “tiger” that is chasing us. Yet, when the chasing happens every day, our system doesn’t turn on in a full capacity as it should. So, doing things like meditation or deep breathing, can help tremendously to calm the body and regulate hormones.
Then there is sleep. When I’m sick, I give myself permission to rest and sleep. The body is working overtime to clear the system. It has the opportunity to do so when I’m not stressing the body with excessive usage. When I allow my body to rest/sleep, I often see my recovery speed up.
Please share your favorite immunity tactics in the comments too. Stay well!