Did you know that research has shown 70-80% of your immune system is located in your digestive track? Poor gut health has a huge negative impact on your immune system. Some of the things implicated in this are food allergies or sensitives. Listen to your body! GI issues like gas, bloating, the runs, stomach aches are the usual signs. Some other signs are headaches, fatigue, joint pain/inflammation, and trouble losing weight. Eating highly processed foods, high sugar foods, and a handful of real foods that you might be sensitive to can cause serious GI issues. When your gut lining gets damaged the it can block the good nutrients from getting into your bloodstream and allow the toxins in. Once it’s damaged your immune system kicks in to try and repair it. Your diet high in low nutrient dense food, sugar, and refined carbs can damage your lining. If you feel like this is you, try to reduce the processed foods, cut out added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Eat whole foods, looking as close to the way they were grown. Add in some fermented foods like raw sauerkrauts, whole fat yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. You might want to look into some probiotics to help your good gut bacteria grow back. Look for probiotics that contain multiple strains and Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Lactis.
Hydration is key for flushing your system from toxins. During the summer it’s easy to stay hydrated and drink water throughout the day. I know first-hand during the winter it’s harder. It’s not like you sit down and chug down a cup of warm water. Of course, you are sweating more during the summer and feel the need to drink more water. But you still need to stay hydrated during the winter. Just to give you an idea water makes up 75% of babies body weight compared to the elderly which is 55% of their body weight. Everyone else is somewhere in between. Water is essential for over 300 processes occurring in your body. Of course regular water is the cheapest and easiest to get. If water is your main option a trick to help with digestion is to add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon. You can also cut up fruit or herbs like mint and rosemary to your water bottle to spruce it up.
Other fluids that are good are things like mineral water, green tea, Echinacea tea, or bone broth. I love bone broth especially when I feel like a cold is coming on. I love cooking with it, like using it to make lentils, quinoa, or rice with it instead of water. Bone broth is an excellent source of nutrients that are bio-available and easy to digest. It has a high amino acid content and a great source of animal gelatin and collagen. Some of the essential amino acids bone broth typically has which are difficult to get from diet alone are: proline, glycine, arginine, and glutamine.
Immune boosting supplements:
Some other supplements that can help your immunity is the obvious vitamin C. Ginger can help calm your stomach if it’s upset. Coconut oil has two bioactive fatty acids- capriylic acid and lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin. Monolaurin has been shown to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. Both possess strong antimicrobial properties.
Another less commonly know is Elderberry. There are several different kinds of elderberry plants, but the most common is European elder. You can get it in syrups, gummies, lozenges, teas, or capsules. Do not eat the plant itself, it is toxic. You can sometimes purchase locally grown elderberry that has been dried and boil it to make your own syrup, which is what I usually do. I’ll add in local buckwheat honey for the most immune boosting properties. While there isn’t large scale research there are some smaller studies that show the elderberry can be beneficial to relieve cold symptoms and boost your immunity.
If you have any others that have helped you feel free to add them to the comments section.