‘Tis the season! Cold and flu season that is. Sick days never come at a good time, and we all know that mamas never really get a day off. We do a lot of nose wiping, back rubbing, and couch snuggling when our little are sick, but when those nasty germs turn on us we are forced to press on with our normal duties despite wanting nothing more than to hide under the covers all day.
Prevention is always the best medicine, so how do we stay healthy when it seems like everyone around us is hacking and sniffling? And how about all those nasty school germs the kids come home with? These are my top three tips for keeping your immune system strong:
1. Get Your Gut Healthy
You may be surprised to learn that 70 – 80% of your immune system is actually in your digestive tract. This means that gut health needs to be a top priority! Pathogen exposure often occurs first in the gut, so we want to keep our gut bacteria thriving and healthy.
My two favorite foods for optimal gut health are sauerkraut and bone broth. Fermented foods like sauerkraut help feed the healthy bacteria in our digestive tract and encourage them to fight off viral and bacterial infections. Bone broth is packed full of easily absorbable minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and sulfur, and helps fortify the lining of your gut.
2. Eat Immune Boosting Foods With Every Meal.
Many of the vitamins that help support our immune system are water-soluble, which means your body will immediately take what it needs and flush the rest out. Because our body doesn’t store water-soluble vitamins we need to make sure we’re getting them in consistently throughout the day.
My favorite foods for a strong immune system include lemons, ginger, garlic, bell peppers, onions and cayenne pepper. Start your day with a mug full of warm water, fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Lemon is full of bio-available vitamin C and cayenne is high in capsaicin and vitamin A.
For lunch cook up a stir-fry with fresh garlic, red and yellow bell peppers, and onion. Garlic can actually multiply immune-boosting white blood cells, bell peppers have more vitamin C than oranges, and onion has a high concentration of selenium.
Before going to bed at night chop up some fresh ginger and steep it in hot water with raw, local honey to make a delicious tea. Ginger is great for preventing infection and killing viruses if you do happen to get sick.
3. Take care of your skin.
We often forget that our skin is actually an organ. In fact it’s our largest organ, and incredibly important for detoxification! I like a simple three-step approach to make sure my skin is primed to excrete toxins and support my immune system: exfoliate to keep pores clear, Epsom salt baths to pull toxins out of the body, and moisturize with non-toxic products to minimize chemical exposure.
I recommend using a dry skin brush to exfoliate several times a week. Not only does this keep your pores clear so toxins can easily exit your body, but it helps increase lymphatic flow which is super important for your immunity. This is the dry skin brush I buy for my clients and use myself. Regular use can also improve the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks!
Epsom salt baths are amazing for your immune system not only because they pull toxins out of your body but you are also absorbing magnesium from the salts. Try to soak for at least 40 minutes and use a washcloth to scrub your skin vigorously until it turns pink. I love San Francisco Bath Salt Company and their 20-lb. bag lasts me the whole year. I use these salts for my kids too!
The third step in my skin approach is to be mindful of toxic exposure to my body through my skin. Use the Skin Deep website or app to scan your personal care products and see how they rank for toxicity. I make a simple recipe of coconut oil, shea butter, and vitamin E oil to moisturize my skin, or use an organic lotion free of parabens.
Lindsay Young is a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist living in sunny Southern California. She’s a wife, mama of 3, food enthusiast, and embracer of imperfection. Lindsay specializes in helping busy women develop a nutrition and lifestyle plan that fits into their reallife, so they can gain health without losing their minds. Feel overwhelmed with how to keep your health & fitness on track? Download her free Busy Women’s Weekly Planner to keep it all together! Come say “Hi!” on Instagram @lindsay.lives.well or email at email@example.com.
Check out Lindsay’s post on getting a great start to your morning here: