Hello everyone, I hope you have been enjoying beautiful fall weather like we have here in Northern Colorado! Also, I am reminded by the coughing and sniffling around me that cold and flu season is upon us. Are you ready? Our bodies have been run down by our lack of proper nutrition, stressful lifestyles, lack of sleep, toxic exposure, overuse of pharmaceutical drugs, refrigeration (thus removing small amounts of bacteria, as well as prepared fermented foods), and attempts to sterilize our environments (hand sanitizer, bleach wipes, etc.) Actually it’s a miracle that we have any immune system left. But we do. Because God designed our bodies so incredibly complex and adaptive. He also designed our bodies with systems to deal with all the above-mentioned problems. But are we using them? Our bodies are overwhelmed with toxins, even if you eat “clean” there are plenty environmental toxins that you will be exposed to on a daily basis. The good news is that our bodies have a detoxification system. The bad news is that it can get overwhelmed… and stop working. The good news is that we can support and revive it. This has everything to do with re-establishing good gut flora, which is not an overnight fix. However, when gut flora is properly balanced, it not only supports your immune system, it protects our bodies from other toxins as well, not allowing them to get into our blood stream (and subsequently the rest of our cells). “Besides the GAPS diet, what other ways can you support your immune system?” you ask. I’m so glad you asked that.
There are many simple steps you can start implementing into your daily routine They only take minutes of your time and don’t break the bank. Your investment into a “cold offense” will bring a good return in time.
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO): this gives you correct ratios of Vitamins A and D. Our low fat diets have made most of us deficient in both these vitamins. (Symptoms of Vitamin A and Vitamin D deficiency). However, you can overdose on these if you are not careful. In FCLO, you cannot really overdose (unless you drink it for days in a row, which I doubt you will do). You know you are getting a correctly prepared FCLO if it DOES NOT say exactly how much vitamins A and D are in it. This is because batches of fish vary, so the amount of vitamins will as well. However, the ratios and approximate amounts do not. The company I get my FCLO from is Green Pastures, and it is the only properly prepared FCLO company in the USA that I am aware of. Let me know if you find others! The most common recommended dose is 1 tsp daily for adults, 1/2 tsp for children. If you are stressed, sick, or the weather is cold, you should double the dose for a short period of time. ~Sunshine: be out in the sun 15-30 min a day whenever possible. Remember that if you have any kind of barriers on your skin (makeup, coconut oil, lotion, suntan lotion, etc) the sun will not be able to give you as much (or any) benefit. The two main benefits of sunbathing are increase in vitamin D and detoxification. So drink water and go outside!
- While you are out in the sun, you might as well walk. Doing some kind of activity is beneficial to our immune systems, and overall health. Get your heart rate up a little bit, breathe those toxins out of your lungs with deep breathing, and embrace the cold. So don’t sunbathe lying down, walk the neighborhood. This will also keep you warmer and allow you to expose more of your skin, which can be challenging in the winter months. THIS IS NOT PERMISSION FOR INDECENT EXPOSURE! In case you were thinking of streaking at the baseball game… I accept no responsibility in this matter…
- Eliminate sugar: Sugar directly inhibits the body’s immune system in it’s functions. Here is fun video depicting the basics of immunity. Mentioned in this video is zinc, a trace mineral, which is important to immune function as well. However, zinc is easy to overdose on, so I would not recommend regular supplementation with zinc. Real sea salt like Celtic or Himalayan contains lots of trace minerals, including zinc, and should be used to taste (no need for iodized salt). You can also add trace mineral drops to your water.
- Get enough sleep. You should feel rested and refreshed. There are many reasons why people don’t get the quality and quantity of sleep they need, but that is beyond the word amount of this blog post. In short, discover what issues are inhibiting you from getting the sleep you need, and take steps to correct them (they may be time, physical, mental, stress, etc.)
- Eat homemade meat stock regularly. A couple times a week should be the minimum. Daily is better. Take some bones with meat on them (chicken, beef, lamb, pork, etc) and boil them for several hours with a variety of vegetables and sea salt. You can add other herbs and spices, more meat, whatever you want. This is basic soup making, but when you make it from scratch from the best quality meats you can afford, it brings amazing health benefits. My sister blogs her health journey through GAPS, including many delicious recipes at Pauper Health. I go to her for my food ideas, as I am not naturally a cook. There are also many other great blogs that have traditional recipes, including Empowered Sustenance, The Well Fed Homestead, and Nourished Kitchen.
- Consider essential oils: these can be great support if you are exposed to a cold, are congested, are having problems sleeping, and more. I personally use and recommend DoTerra, because I am confident that they are safe and effective. This company does a great job researching the medicinal uses and safety of their oils, and are transparent about their findings. There are several other brands I am also comfortable recommending, none of which you will be able to find at a health food store. Contact me for more information about oils if you are interested.
There are the basics. There are more, but I am not writing a text book. Following these suggestions will not only help you in the upcoming sick season, it will establish habits that are important to long-term and overall health. So get some cod liver oil, put a chicken in the slow cooker, and don’t overuse hand sanitizer, and start on a journey to health that will leave you feeling strong and secure. Onward!