When it comes to building a strong, resilient immune system that consistently protects us from cold and flu viruses, most of us know the basics:
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet
- Exercise regularly and incorporate a variety of movement into your life
- Get direct, unfiltered sun exposure 15-20 minutes per day (try your best, Northerners!)
- Get sufficient sleep
- Try not to burn the candle at both ends… have outlets for your stress… do your best to create balance
There’s another piece of advice, though, that you may not have heard.
Not only will this lifestyle strategy help maintain a stronger immune system on an ongoing basis, but it can help you fend off those annoying cold and flu viruses.
In fact, if you start to get that feeling… where you feel like you might be coming down with something (your immune system is “adapting” to something in its environment), then light fasting is a very good idea.
Remember why we were always told to wait awhile after eating before going swimming? It’s because digestion takes more energy than just about any other daily human activity.
Placing an excessive burden on your digestive system (in the case of over-eating or eating large meals) diverts energy and important physiological resources that could be put to more important use assisting the immune system.
In addition to simply avoiding TOO much food in general, avoiding sugar and starch in particular, here is critical.
The research is clear. A high glycemic meal wreaks havoc on our primary immune response for hours after consumption.
It doesn’t stop there.
Glucose increases insulin production, leads to increased free radical activity, and creates a more acidic internal terrain. It leads to breakdown.
Sugar is like food for the various pathogens we’re trying to ward off. If you want the pathogens to stick around, then just feed ‘em sugar!
Yes, all carbs (with the exception of indigestible fiber) are sugar once they reach your bloodstream. This includes bread, pasta, cereals, pastries & baked goods, potatoes, rice, juice (yes, even orange juice!), grains (including whole & sprouted grains), corn, conventional milk & other dairy products (especially low-fat/non-fat which are high in sugar), legumes (approximately 60% starch), and other sugary/starchy carbs.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily opt for steak at every meal! Of course, consuming excess of any one food group is problematic. Excessive protein intake can disrupt some metabolic functions as well. Be consistent with moderate protein intake, especially if your immune system is temporarily or chronically compromised. Always choose the best protein sources you can, such as grass-fed, wild, pastured, and free-range.
What Should You Eat?
So, if you feel a virus of some sort coming on, or it’s already here, what should you eat? Again, it’s perfectly OK to not eat for awhile – let your digestive system rest. There’s a high likelihood you won’t die if you miss a few meals.
This is a biggie for parents with a child whose immune system is fighting something off. If your child is dealing with a cold or flu, or other short-lived infection, you don’t necessarily need to worry if they don’t want much food. Their body is preoccupied fighting the good fight!
And, when they do want to eat, do NOT opt for sugar-based foods! This is not the time for toast, cereal, pasta, orange juice… or ice cream, for crying out loud! We’re trying to HEAL here, people!
Regardless of whose adapting immune system we’re talking about, if you are going to eat, keep it clean and simple. Quality sources of protein, healthy fats, veggies, some fruit, stay hydrated, and avoid sugar and starchy foods.
Healthy fats can help you build a stronger arsenal. Coconut oil has incredible antimicrobial properties, as does poultry fat. Grass-fed butter provides an easily absorbed dose of fat soluble vitamins that are so critical for our neurological and immune function.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m ever feeling run down, or those first signs of an immune system adaptation are showing up, I start to crave soup. Broth, to be specific. Light soups and bone broths top the list of immuno-supportive meals when you’re fighting off a pathogen. Bone broth is known as a “super food” for good reason. It serves to heal the gut, which is responsible for 80% of our immune system!
Speaking of the gut and it’s intricate involvement with our immune system, anything that helps the gut will strengthen our immune response. Anything that breaks down the gut will break down the immune system.
Some of the most beneficial ‘foods’ for a healthy gut are rich with probiotics and live enzymes. Foods like traditionally cultured veggies, coconut kefir, and fermented beverages. Adding an excellent-quality probiotic supplement to the mix will help, as well.
So, while there are countless choices available to us to assist a burdened immune system (things like nutritional supplements, essential oils, tonics, homeopathic remedies, “miracle” berries, and so on), I feel it’s important to look first to the underlying diet.
And, not just what we’re eating… but how much.
Just something to chew on!
(On a side note, a healthy immune system depends on healthy neurological function. Remember to get your Chiropractic adjustments on a regular basis to ensure optimal neurological, immune, and hormonal response. It’s not about your “back”… it’s about your HEALTH!)
Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a popular personality in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 19 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud (home schooling) mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.
Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com, http://Facebook.com/DrMomOnline and http://Twitter.com/DrMomOnline.
Also, check out her available books at http://amazon.com/author/drcolleen .
For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen and Dr. Marc in an Investigative & Functional Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, autoimmune conditions, cellular detoxification, and more, please contact Dr. Colleen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://Facebook.com/DrMomOnline. Personalized distance programs are available.