Bring on the school days and get ready for the cold and flu season that is shortly to follow. Not only do we have new germs we'll be exposed to, but we are also dealing with an increase in sugar intake, changes in diet, changes in stress levels, and less exposure to sunlight and vitamin D. So, if you're hoping to get a jump start on the season, here are a few tips from our family to yours, for nourishing healthy immune systems this Fall!
1. Sneak in "The Goods" with a Protein Shake!
Starting the day with a delicious non-dairy protein shake is the EASIEST way to sneak in immune stimulators without having to battle with your children to take just one more vitamin. Fill up the vitamix with a non-dairy milk of your choice (we use organic almond milk), a few scoops of plant-based protein powder, fresh berries, a banana, and herbs and vitamins of your choice. I dont' suggest over-doing it with a lot vitamins/herbs at one time, as you don't want to upset anyone's stomach, however here's what we do in our home:
- Almond Milk
- 500mg of Vit C (NO ascorbic acid!)
- Echinacea (Dr. Schulze is our favorite)
- Plant based protein powder (Vega protein powder)
2. Curcumin (Turmeric)
Curcumin is well known as the anti-inflammatory component found in the spice, Turmeric. It's an excellent immunomodulatory agent that can enhance T-cells and increase antibodies. To get the benefits of this herb, Turmeric Milk is a favorite staple in our home. We heat up vanilla almond milk and add a tablespoon of the turmeric mixture. Delicious!! You can also add a few droppers of liquid Turmeric from Herbpharm to a glass of juice as a daily tonic to boost your immunity and shorten the length of the common cold. When in the thick of a cold, add in a drop of oregano oil to kick it up a notch! (*Turmeric not recommended when taking blood thinners).
3. Herbal Cold & Flu Shot (Adults)
The best flu shot is one that actually BOOSTS your immunity in preparation for the many strains of flu that are never quite accurately predictable from season to season. Our family uses Dr. Schulze's Cold & Flu shot not only as a preventative, but also to shorten the duration of any invaders that might slip through the cracks and cause a fever. It's strong, so we start slow and dose a very small amount. (For kids: I suggest contacting the support team at Dr. Schulze, who are great at answering specific dosage questions). We generally take this tonic for about 10 days prior to the start of the school year to provide an extra layer of immune strength. It's the real deal!
4. Reduce the Sugar and Ditch the GMO Corn Syrup!
The sugar rush starts with Halloween and then continues straight through to the end of December. It's like one massive dump of toxins on your immune system that attacks it from every angle, and then BOOM - we're all battling the flu. Suggestions? Monitor your sugar intake! Once the holidays hit, we LIMIT, MONITOR, AND SUBSTITUTE with healthy, low sugar sweets. Corn Syrup is not an option so read your labels. Purchase organic candy products without food dyes and and additives such as Annie's and Yum Earth. Make your own cookies with organic ingredients - no excuses - there are box products now...! Remember: sugar feeds disease!
5. Switch to Herbal Tea!
As the winter sets in, we round up our bedtime routine with warm, immune boosting teas. It soothes the stomach and nourishes your immune system while you sleep. Replacing your dehydrating, acidic, caffeine packed coffee is also a MUST as we approach winter, because an acid body easily brings on illnesses. Instead of coffee, choose teas that are alkalizing and medicinal at the same time. Decaffeinated is preferred, however if you're afraid to make the switch, I encourage starting with a green tea for the caffeine-kick, and then slowly reducing your intake to decaffinated over time. Adding a teaspoon of raw honey has a multitude of health benefits, not to mention studies show it's a powerful healing agent for sore throats. My favorite tea company: The Art of Tea.
6. Sunlight, Vit. D and Stress Reduction
As Fall sets in, so does an increase in our stress levels as well as a decrease in our exposure to the sunlight. I find that taking brisk walks or doing yard work for just 15 minutes a day is a great way to keep the body moving and exposed to natural vitamin D. Adding a few drops of liquid Vitamin D to your daily smoothie also provides an extra immune boost for the whole family. Weekly epsom salt baths, lavender aromatherapy in your bedroom, and an earlier bedtime (7-8 hrs. of sleep for adults, 9-10 hrs of sleep for children) can significantly reduce your stress levels and promote stronger immunity. Stop over-booking your family and learn to say, "No."
As we approach the cooler months, the body is begging to slow down and replenish itself. It's important to carve out time to rest, eat together as a family, and trim electronic usage. So when things get hectic this Fall, and you know they will, remember to grab a cup of tea, breathe some fresh air, and stay present for yourself. You have the ability to make positive changes, so go for it!
*As always, one size doesn't fit all. If you have a medical condition, be sure to consult with your physician prior to beginning a new health care regime. :)