Monday, February 6, 2017

immune support

i feel like i have been perpetually sick pretty much constantly for the better part of two years - so much so that i feel silly even telling people i'm sick because i know their internal reaction is most definitely 'again?' but between pneumonia last christmas, shingles this past spring, and a lengthy list of bed ridden cold and flu spells sprinkled in between, i am determined to support and rebuild my floundering immune system this year.

a few good things i am committing to incorporating/ continuing this season include:

upwards of 70% of our immune system resides in our gut, so maintaining a proper balance of good to bad gut bacteria is essential for optimal immune function. i have always been extremely cautious and avoided the overuse of antibiotics, but have not been as diligent at rebuilding with probiotics. jeff and i recently went to whole foods (and spent an obscene amount of money INVESTED in our long term health) and picked up some good quality probitics for the whole family. we are also working to incorporate more fermented foods into our daily life. kombocha has always been an easy win over here, but other fermented foods - veggies, sauerkraut and kefir will also be added to the list- building up the good gut flora in all of us is top of my to-do list.

bone broth 
perhaps a bit of a food buzzword right now, bone broth has a deep-seated history in supporting immune function. thanks to the high concentration of minerals, bone broth works to heal and seal your gut (see above note on why that's important). in particular, chicken bone broth is proven to inhibit infection caused by cold and flu viruses (something that won't surprise our grandparents generation who rushed to make chicken soup whenever we got sick.) it also works to help us sleep better, fights inflammation, protects our bones and joints, makes our hair and nails grow stronger, and generally just makes us feel good. it's easy enough to make your own, or if you live in a larger city, your local health food store likely stocks it. you can drink bone broth on its own (i personally love this, but understand it's not for everyone) or use it in place of regular broth in any of your favourite recipes that call for some kind of stock.

mushrooms (shiitake, maitake and reishi ) have been highly prized in traditional chinese medicine for thousands of years because of their potent healing benefits. my girlfriend kristen turned me on to them a couple summers ago, and more recently, my friend katie shared with me what we now call 'magic mushrooms' for their ability to help heal whatever ails you. (THESE mushroom pills are an absolute MUST if sickness has been plaguing your household.) incorporating more medicinal mushrooms into your cooking routine is ideal, but if that's not something that sounds doable in your household, adding a mushroom powder (like this) into things like tomato sauces, soups, casseroles or even smoothies is a good way to mask the taste and still reap the benefits.

vitamin d 
sunshine is so important for vitamin d production, but for those of us living in raincouver (or other chillier/ less sun-filled parts of the world) accessing natural sunlight can be challenging during the gloomy, cold winter months. getting real about supplementing when the sunny days fade is super important. there is a wide spectrum of opinions on what adequate supplementation looks like, so spend a bit of time researching and find a level that feels appropriate for your needs (remembering that some is better than none in this case.)

ginger + garlic 
both broad spectrum anti-microbial agents and natures immune boosters, i am always looking for more ways to incorporate these two superfoods into our diet. smitten kitchen's recipe for 44 clove garlic soup is being added to the rotation, and i am still LOVING this recipe for turmeric milk that uses lots of ginger to cure and comfort whatever ails you.

mental health
we all know stress is a huge contributing factor to how effective our immune system functions. i wholeheartedly acknowledge the connection between the grief i have been working through over the past few years and my bodies ability (or inability) to function optimally. mental health is a key component to physical well-being. and so i continue to do the work, knowing it's a long journey and not an overnight fix. visiting my wonderful counselor as needed, trying my hardest to carve out moments for mindfulness (whatever that may look like) and taking a big step in upping my self-care routine (which, of course, encompasses everything that i have shared here and more.)

on guard essential oil  
also known as thieves oil, i am a HUGE advocate of doterra's on guard essential oil - a blend of wild orange peel, clove bud, cinnamon leaf, eucalyptus leaf and rosemary flower, on guard is a protective blend used to support the immune system and help kill off harmful bacteria and viruses.  you can use on guard in a few different ways to help keep germs at bay -
  • diffusing it into the air for aromatherapy purposes. doing this also helps kill airborne germs and viruses. 
  • using it topically - mix a few drops of on guard with some fractured coconut oil and apply to your wrists, souls of your feet, behind your ears and the back of your neck. we do this each morning as a preventative measure, and several times a day at the first signs of sickness. 
  • add a few drops to your natural cleaning products and use it on surfaces to rid them of germs and bacteria. (several drops mixed with equal parts white vinegar and water do the trick!)
  • doterra brand on guard oil is food grade, meaning it is safe to ingest. at the first signs of illness, soak some apple slices in water with a few drops of on guard oil and enjoy, or mix up this magical flu busting, detox cocktail:
    combine the following ingredients in your favourite mug, stir and enjoy-
    2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp honey
    1-3 drops on guard oil blend
    small squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
    1 cup warm water
stay cozy, friends!