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How To Stay Well This Winter

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How to stay well this winter  

 

 

Believe it or not, the immune system’s primary job is to tolerate! The immune system is a detective, defender, and repairman. We want our immune system to accurately identify a real threat and confirm stranger and danger response. We want the immune system to be non-reactive to self and have a low reactivity to foods, our environment, and our friendly microbiomes. The immune system can become dysregulated, and a synergistic effect exists between 3 aspects of our day to day lives. Crap food, toxins and stress challenge our immune system’s ability to tolerate and regulate itself intelligently.

 

A healthy immune system should be able to gear up aggressively and quickly and at the same time put the brakes on and calm down. In fact, a balanced immune system should be working behind the scenes to eliminate dangers without us even knowing. What we call cold or flu symptoms is the body’s response to the virus in its attempt to eliminate the threat.

 

Overtime, crap food, stress and toxins can cause our immune system to become overrun and unable to turn off. This leads to chronic inflammatory dynamics, food sensitivities, allergies, asthma, eczema, autoimmune disease, chronic infections, dysbiosis such as IBS, fungus, or even those who seem to always have a cold or always get sick each winter with a sinus infection that they just can’t shake.

 

The good news is that you absolutely have the power to change these dynamics. Start with making everyday lifestyle choices from the list below and decreasing immune challenging choices like processed foods, unresolved stressors, and toxins like skin care products, beauty aids, and deodorants.

 

Top ten health foundation principles to keep you well

 

  1. Water and oxygen: The two most important nutrients of all that people routinely forget about. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of clean water. Ensure adequate sodium intake which is essential for moving water into our cells. Address mouth breathing and/or sleep apnea.
  2. Poop every single day. Constipation keeps waste products and toxins in our gut where they can be reabsorbed back into our system causing inflammation and damage to our cells.
  3. Blood sugar regulation is critical to staying well and disease free. Where are the hidden sugars in your diet? How often do you drink sugary beverages? Excess sugar not only causes weight gain, but also inflammation. Excess sugar raises insulin levels which can, along with various other metabolic hormones, cause dysregulated immune function.
  4. Maintain a diverse healthy gut microbiome by using quality probiotics and consuming plenty of pre-biotics.
  5. Eat a clean whole foods diet free of ultra-processed and processed foods. Make sure to consume mostly plants with quality proteins like fish, grass-fed beef, eggs, and lean meats.
  6. Find ways to have regular, challenging movement throughout the day. Unlike our vascular system, our lymph system needs movement to actually move our lymph fluids around the body. This means our immune system! Movement based activities like yoga, resistance training, stretching, and tai-chi, all help circulate our immune cells throughout the body.
  7. Get deep and restful sleep. It gets dark earlier so use this winter to rest in the evenings and go to bed earlier. We all know how important sleep is and use the winter to hibernate, rather than burn the midnight oil.
  8. Avoid toxins. Toxin avoidance is critical to maintain a balanced immune system. Toxins are a broad category and unfortunately our environment has become loaded with chemicals that are harmful. I highly recommend checking out the environmental working groups website, ewg.org, for tips and helpful databases that can help you choose household cleaning products, beauty products, and organic produce which will minimize toxic exposure.
  9. Eating hygiene. Eating hygiene is a set of principles that ensures optimal digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. It includes having good, strong stomach acid needed for optimal digestion of food and absorption of B12 and minimizing large food particles getting to our intestines where our immune system police station can potentially create a host of reactions to foods we eat consistently.
  10. Stress. We all know stress can be disease promoting all by itself. This winter, rather than try to just eliminate all stress, consider how to balance our stress response. Keep a gratitude journal, stop using food as an outlet for stress, learn to breathe deeply, meditate, seek help with a licensed therapist. Reducing stress can decrease blood sugar levels, balance your immune system, and keep you well all on its own. That is how powerful the stress response is. Do we want to live in a chronic state of flight or fight?

 

 

Often immune dysregulation begins in the gut. Almost 70-80% of our immune system is located in our GI tract and focusing on gut health is often the place to start for regulating and rebalancing immune function.

 

What are you challenges does your immune system face? How can you make lifestyle changes that will regulate and promote optimal immune function?

 

 

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