With summer on its way we quite often find ourselves indulging in foods we don’t normally eat. I am all for indulging every once in awhile, but we need to understand that the “bad” bacteria in our gut loves it when we do this- they thrive on sugary foods and drinks-and multiply! And when the bacteria in our gut get all out of balance, more than just one system is thrown off and our immunity can suffer.
You may think of probiotics as the “good bugs” we can get from yogurt, but don’t fully understand how they work and contribute to not only digestive health but our sleep, energy, hormonal health and immunity.
Unless I am travelling or have had to take a dose of antibiotics, I choose to take a set of probiotics with each new season, generally at the same time as a “seasonal reboot”. Working probiotics into your seasonal reboot is a great way to feel recharged, shed the extra pounds that can creep up over the holidays as well, and boost your immunity and good bacteria.
Your immune systems mission is to protect you from outside invaders called antigens. Antigens include not only infections, but can include any protein that looks foreign to your immune system, including toxins, allergens, and even (and especially!) incompletely digested food. Did you know that about 70% of our immunity lies within our guts? That is one of the reasons it is so important to take probiotics. For more on probiotics, check out this short article.
Healthy bacteria in the gut (i.e., probiotics) work hand in hand with your immune system to keep out ‘bad bug’ infections. But, unfortunately, the widespread use of antibiotics and antacids, along with a diet loaded with Candida-feeding sugar, has disrupted the bacterial balance, leading to an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria and Candida — and therefore a weakened immune system.
Here are 8 easy immune boosting tips to maintain a healthy and strong immune system- before it gets knocked down!
1. Get 7 1/2 hours of sleep a night.
- Reserve caffeine-containing foods and beverages for before 3 PM.
- Avoid midnight bathroom interruptions by not drinking fluids after dinner time.
- Soak in an epsom salt bath before bed.
- Keep your bedroom cool.
- Go to bed and get out of bed the same time each day.
- If needed, use a natural sleep aid.
- If your mind is wide awake at bedtime, try meditating or a short amount of yoga to wind down.
- Ditch alcoholic beverages.
2. Starve the candida — cut back on sugar.
Candida feed on sugar. An easy way to start cutting back on your intake of the sweet stuff? Limit (or completely eliminate) your intake of the four types of foods that are loaded with added sugar: 1) fast food, 2) processed food, 3) sodas, and 4) fruit juices and drinks. Instead choose whole foods from an array of colors, healthy fats, and protein from organic sources.
3. Save antibiotics for when they’re really needed.
For example, sinus problems almost never require a dose of antibiotics. Neither do colds, which are often a viral (not a bacterial) infection. Focus on prevention first.
4. Take a probiotic.
Probiotics help normalize gut bacteria, read more on probiotics here.
5. Take plant-based digestive enzymes.
This not only promotes healthy digestion, but also takes a massive load off your immune system. .
6. Get more sunshine.
It delivers vitamin D, a must for healthy immunity. In fact, the oft-heard advice to avoid sunshine has resulted in weakened immunity and, I believe the best advice is to avoid sunburn, not sunshine. Go for a walk every day in the great outdoors. Your immune system will thank you!
7. Take the highest quality multivitamin and fish oil supplement you can find. Why? Because supplements act as your full-coverage insurance policy against nutrient deficiencies.
A high-quality multi-vitamin feeds your cells the micro-nutrients they need (vitamin, mineral, antioxidants) to keep your heart pumping, build your muscles and maintain a healthy digestive system.
A pure fish oil supplement feeds your brain, your hair and skin, and it also makes it easier for your cells to take in the vitamins and minerals they need and release the toxins they don’t need.
8. Drink lots of water.
Aim for 1/2 your body’s weight in kg, in ounces.
9. Reduce your stress.
When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).
Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system because we often use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking. Ditch what you can do without, and focus on doing what you love.