[green_box title=”Immune Health – Natural Therapies to Ward Off The ‘Ick” and For When You’re Sick” ][/green_box]
Given the time of year, for those of us where it’s winter, it’s only fitting that we cover what you can do on your fertility journey when you’ve caught the “ick”, got a case of the “green meanies” (as we call them at my house), “caught a bug”… when you’re sick or trying to prevent it from happening.
1. Eat well! Eat a whole food diet; organic whenever possible, devoid of processed foods and excess sugar, caffeine, baked goods, candy, soda, etc. etc. … avoid junk!
Now more than ever is a time to only eat a wide array of whole foods, stews, sautéed veggies and greens in lentils or rice, or warm broths with vegetables, healthy fats, seaweeds, dark leafy greens and mushrooms like Shiitake, Maitake and Chaga, or even Immune Tonic Soup. Garlic, turmeric, and ginger are anti-inflammatory and antiviral – I like some hot peppers too here and there (but if you don’t, that’s fine). Spirulina can help build red blood cells and nutrient stores to battle foreign invaders. Be sure to also stay hydrated to flush the system and keep elimination happening smoothly. The old adage is “feed a cold, starve a fever” right?
2. Exercise regularly if you are up for it. Move in some way, whether it’s the 10-minute crunchless ab workout you found on Youtube, standing yoga at your desk, taking the stairs, a brisk walk in nature for 30 minutes, a jog on the treadmill, a few laps in the pool… try to move every day in a way that helps your heart rate speed up and even makes you sweat a little bit.
3. Manage your stress. Being in a prolonged, heightened state of stress, can result in sleep being poor and suppress healthy immune system function.
4. Sleep! Try to get as much sleep as you need, experts say 7-8 hours of sound, uninterrupted sleep, but we know that’s different for each person and may be more when you’re ill.
5. Rest! When your body is telling you it’s had enough, don’t keeping pushing through! Doing so can wear you out even more and can potentially make things worse.
6. Wash your hands! It may seem silly, but I’m serious! It’s a free and easy trick that works and will prevent you from spreading germs. Conventional hand sanitizers are a no-no, but a natural one (there are many) is okay in moderation. You’ve likely seen posts on social media of essential oils to not only boost immunity, but that are antibacterial as well (use caution and info. from a source you trust).
7. Consider daily supplements. There are many nutritional supplements and herbs that can be used during “cold and flu” months to help the immune system function at its best. I once heard Dr. Aviva Romm say that she suggests* the following daily:
- Zinc, roughly 40 mg
- Echinacea (as suggested by the manufacturer)
- Elderberry syrup (as suggested by the manufacturer or recipe you find)
- Vitamin D3 – 2000iu
- Vitamin C – 1000-2000 mg in divided doses
- Cod Liver Oil – high in vitamin A, which is strongly supportive of the immune system and particularly the respiratory system…
- Probiotics – a product chosen should contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.
- Prebiotic foods like onion, leeks and garlic, Chicory root, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus and bananas because these feed healthy gut flora or probiotics.
*Note: please find a resource you trust or talk to your healthcare provider if concerned about taking anything suggested here.
8. Learn about immune-boosting herbs like:
- Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera) which supports the body in having proper immune and stress responses.
- Bee Pollen and Bee Propolis are touted for their ability to boost immunity and healthy inflammatory and stress responses in the body.
- Cordyceps mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis), in human trials, helps restore normal macrophage and natural killer cell activity helping to normalize immune function.
- Echinacea flower, root, seed (Echinacea purpurea, E.angustifolia) is one of the most important plants for stimulating the immune system. Best used for acute situations where immune function support is needed immediately.
- Eleuthero root and stem bark (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is an adaptogen herb that strengthens the immune system and can be an important ally for people under severe stress.
- Shatavari root (Asparagus racemosus) is a nutritive tonic herb that supports overall immune system function.
- Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes), Maitake (Grifola frondosa), Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) are easy to add to food (Chaga is best as a tea or simmered in broth and not eaten) and known to stimulate the immune system.
All of these tips apply if you want to try to prevent sickness, although I cannot guarantee you’ll not ever catch a virus… being proactive before “the ick” hits will hopefully help you fight it faster!
When you are ill rest, stay home and out of the public if at all possible, and be gentle with your body… take warm baths, use a Neti pot, sip warm teas and broths, and of course seek medical attention if you need to do so!