What’s your plan of action when you feel a cold or other illness brewing? In our home, we take a multi-faceted approach to boost our immune system.
First, we have a mantra that we’ve said for years whenever one of us is feeling a bit run down and susceptible to a cold or virus: I am healthy, and I will remain healthy. This phrase is a mindset shift and positive self talk. It’s also code to signal to each other, I’d better take care of myself.
It’s a cue that we need to get more sleep, take in more clear liquids, and tweak our diet.
What steps do we take, and why?
- Get More Sleep – People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are nearly three times more likely to get a cold than those who average eight or more hours of sleep, according to a 2009 study at Carnegie Mellon University. The full study is at pubmed.org, a valuable resource in general that is bookmark-worthy.
- Try Light Exercise – a reduced-intensity workout such as a walk instead of a run, actually can benefit you if your symptoms are above the neck, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Take in More Liquids – Decaf tea, water with lemon, and clear soups and bone broth are great fluids to take in when you feel a cold or virus starting. Avoid sugary drinks – even ginger ale – and dairy. These can increase inflammation, suppress the immune system, and actually make your symptoms worse.
- Focus on Nutrition – Beyond drinking clear soup or bone broth, eating so-called “superfoods” can help boost your antioxidant intake. They also keep inflammation low. Green, leafy vegetables, blueberries, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids also help.
If your diet is less than optimal, as is many Americans’, it can be important to supplement with plant-based nutrition and immune-system boosters. (Click here for my full disclosure agreement.)
We consistently taking a vitamin and mineral supplement containing all 90 essential nutrients. When we are feeling extra susceptible to a cold or flu, we also add in the Seasonal Immune Support Pak. It includes zinc, Vitamin C, colostrum, echinacea and other nutrients and herbal extracts.
We keep the Seasonal Immune Support Pak on hand year round, but especially in the fall and winter. My husband, a frequent flier for business, typically gets sick a few times during the winter, when germs are easy to transmit in enclosed spaces such as airplanes.
Other Lifestyle Changes
In the past year, though, we’ve made some dietary and lifestyle changes. As a result, my husband has been able to keep from developing a full-blown cold or flu despite maintaining his travel schedule. (We do not get flu shots. To each his own, but we decided against them two years ago in favor of immune-boosting methods.)
According to immunologist AJ Lanigan, a healthy immune system typically operates with about a 30% capacity to respond to unhealthy invaders. But we can boost it to operate at 50% or even 70% efficiency, he says.
Lanigan manufactures an immune booster known as Beta 1, 3-D Glucan, which has been studied extensively in medical universities and teaching hospitals. Thousands of studies about its effectiveness have been published at pubmed.org.
Whether we shift our mindset or take other action, we’ve realized that many pieces go together to support and spur our immune system.
How are your immune-boosting methods working? What new steps are you willing to try next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather?
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