We are right in the thick of it – coughing, sneezing, tissues, laryngitis, fever,  etc… Most of us if not sick already this season, know someone who was or is.  This year seems worse than ever with lingering symptoms that seem to last forever.  Did you know that the foods you eat play a significant role in whether or not you will be one of those people stuck in bed??  Yes indeed – food choices can either fuel you or deplete you.

Processed sugar is number ONE on the list of foods to stay away from if you want a strong immune system.   Sugar impacts your white blood cells by competing for space in those cells with Vitamin C. When Linus Pauling did research in the 1970s to find out how the body uses Vitamin C, he discovered that white blood cells need Vitamin C to destroy bacteria and viruses. Sugar and Vitamin C are similar in their chemical structure. When you eat sugar, it directly competes for space in your immune cells with Vitamin C! The more sugar in your system, the less Vitamin C can get into your white blood cells. Make sense?  Sugar DOES NOT help your immune system fight infection at all, resulting in a weakened defense from infections.  Research proves that cancer cells feed on sugar. Sugar lowers HDL cholesterol (commonly referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol) and increases the density of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.

In fact, processed foods in general won’t do much to keep you healthy.  When a food is processed, such as processing brown rice to make white rice, many essential nutrients and fibers are lost for properly digesting the grain. Blood sugar spikes more rapidly because the fibers that slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream have been removed and the majority of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals present in the outer portion of brown rice are lost. Eating refined, processed foods over time can deplete the body of essential nutrients needed for it to function properly. However, eating something refined on a very occasional basis—as long as it’s truly gluten-free—shouldn’t cause much harm if the body is well nourished from a whole foods diet.

The trick to being able to indulge in the occasional slice of chocolate cake or pepperoni pizza without letting it get the best of you is that one thing we are always striving for; MODERATION.  When you focus on eating a WHOLE FOODS DIET 80% of the time that includes several servings of greens and vegetables each day, nuts, seeds, whole grains, plenty of water etc… you will be healthy and strong.

8 ways to BOOST your IMMUNE SYSTEM

WATER: Drinking plenty of water ensures that your blood will carry plenty of oxygen to all the cells of your body. This means that all of your body’s systems will function adequately, because they’ll be getting plenty of oxygen. Your immune system functions best when your muscles and organs are functioning best.  Water allows your kidneys to remove toxins from your body. It allows your cells to take in nutrients, and it also allows them to expel waste products. If you don’t drink enough water, toxins will build up, weakening your immune system.

BONE BROTH: Bone broth helps heal and strengthen the gut.  It’s been said that 80-90% of all immune system cells reside in the digestive system. (GUT) Because of bone broth’s high concentration of minerals, I refer to it as a “superfood” (Maybe your grandma was right about feeding you endless bowls of chicken soup when you got sick.) This means that as you heal your gut, you are also healing your immune system.

PROBIOTICS: Whether you take a high quality probiotic supplement, eat probiotic rich foods or both, this will reinforce the  “good” bacteria already in your body. The more “good” bacteria there are in your intestines, the easier it will be for your body to prevent disease and infections from spreading.  They can protect the lining in your intestines and increase your ability to absorb nutrients.  You’ll find that when you take probiotics daily, you will give your body an immunity boost that no other supplement can. You will essentially be working from the inside out to protect your body, leading to a stronger immune system.

USE ESSENTIAL OILS:  Essential oils can be super helpful to boost the immune system.  Eucalyptus – especially cineole-rich varieties, stimulates the immune system because it has an enhancing effect on beta and gamma-globulins (antibodies). Eucalyptus also reduces inflammatory reactions. Add oils to a diffuser or vaporizer.  You can even apply directly to the skin with a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil.

SLEEP:  Sleep at least 7-8 hours each night. Sleep deprivation can leave you more susceptible to pick up illness.   Getting an adequate amount of sleep at night can help your body become refreshed and build its natural defenses. Additionally, getting extra sleep at the first sign of illness can help you bounce back more quickly.

EXERCISE: Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. But does it help to boost your immune system naturally and keep it healthy? Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system.

GARLIC:  Garlic is found in almost every cuisine in the world. It adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health. Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, garlic may also help lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.  Add garlic to soups, stews, sauces, dressings, stir fry, meats, veggies, the options are endless.

TURMERIC: You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. But this bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Also, research shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help with brain health and to boost the immune system.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to a cup of bone broth and sip it like tea.

Natural Cough Syrup
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