With cold and flu season already upon us, one of the things on most of our minds is how we can stay healthy and well. I know I’m always looking for ways to be proactive about staying well and preventing illness in myself, and my family. If this is your goal too, you’re in luck, because I’ve compiled 15 of the best (and really easy!) ways to support your immune system, so your body can better work in your favor to keep you well! Some of them are common sense/no-brainers, but there might be a few in here that will surprise you! If you are looking for where to get some of the products mentioned here, I have included a few affiliate links. You can, of course, find them on your own, but I always appreciate the support for my blog 🙂
1. Wash hands a lot and/or use healthy hand sanitizers
Here’s a no-brainer right off the bat. But ditch the antibacterial stuff because that will actually hurt your immune system instead of helping it! Go for plain soap and water for washing, and/or a healthy waterless purifier, like one made with essential oils instead of chemicals and alcohol. We use a homemade hand purifier made with Young Living Thieves Essential Oil Blend. If you don’t carry something better with you, then go ahead and take advantage of the wipes and sanitizers at the grocery stores/WalMart. Grocery carts and door handles are super germy!
2. Get lots of sleep/rest
Another no-brainer, but most of us don’t do it! Recent research has shown that getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night can increase your chance of getting a cold by 400%! A healthy adult needs at least 7 hours of sleep a night to help keep his/her immune system in check, and 8 or more is better. Children and people with compromised immune systems need more. A body can’t fight off invaders if it’s too tired to do so.
3. Keep surfaces clean with a healthy, chemical-free, germ-busting cleaner!
Most household cleaners contain chemicals that harm the immune system, so you want to go with something that is natural (and beware–just because it says “natural” or “green” on it doesn’t mean it is, so do your homework! You can check up on your cleaners at EWG.org.) Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner is my choice because it’s natural, non-toxic, and you can spray it directly on yourself without worry! Clean more frequently during cold and flu season, especially on areas that get touched a lot like doorknobs and handles, bathroom faucets, light switches, computer keyboards and mice, phones! Cell phones carry tons of icky germs!
4. Avoid sugar!
Sugar, including carbohydrates, which turn to sugar in the body, and also processed foods, which contain tons of sugar, seriously lower your immunity. When you consume sugar, the immune system weakens within just 30 minutes, and remains in a depressed state for more than 5 hours! It’s no wonder people are sick so much during the holidays–they’re eating tons of junk and their immune systems just can’t take it. Choose unrefined sugars as a healthier alternative, but keep those to a minimum also if you’re fighting off something or already dealing with illness.
5. Eat REAL foods.
Your body needs actual food to function properly, not artificial stuff, and fruits and lots of colorful and leafy vegetables are especially important. These foods are going to feed your body the nutrients it needs. You also want to avoid processed and junk foods, GMOs, vegetable oils, and anything with any artificial ingredients. Anytime you put something fake into your body, you lower your immune system because it is working overtime trying to figure out what to do with and how to eliminate those toxins.
6. Eat immune-boosting foods.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In addition to making sure you are eating REAL food, there are certain foods that actually have immune-boosting qualities. Here are just a few good ones: bone broth, garlic, turmeric, oregano, sweet red peppers (contain twice as much Vitamin C as any other fruits/veggies), pumpkin, ginger, oysters, broccoli, raw honey, berries, cashew, and green tea.
7. Use Essential Oils.
Essential oils provide a HUGE support for the entire body–all the body’s systems–which in turn, supports the immune system. Essential oil molecules are highly oxygenated and can strengthen and help cells to thrive. They are small enough that they can enter through cell membranes, and they are made up of many different compounds that can oxygenate and detox our cells, clean our cell receptors for better cell communication, and help support all the cell processes that support our immune systems. Many essential oils are antioxidants in themselves which can help the immune system work more optimally. Daily use of certain essential oils can be a great addition to the other things you’re doing to support your immune system. Some really great immune-supporting oils and blends include Young Living’s Thieves Essential Oil Blend, Copaiba, Oregano, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Rosemary, Thyme, Cinnamon Bark, Peppermint, and Clove. These are just a few of the more potent immune supporting oils and blends. You can order any of these oils or Young Living Supplements on my Young Living page.
We have a whole world of symbiotic organisms that live on us and in us, and make up what is known as our microbiome. These bacteria and yeast organisms outnumber the cells in our body by at least 10 to 1, and about 3-4 lbs worth of them live in our guts and our intestinal tract! These gut flora are key to our health, as they have recently been found to be the frontline of defense for our bodies, and are responsible for an estimated 80% of our immune system. Most disease originates in the digestive system. This includes both physical and mental disease. Artificial and processed foods kill good gut bacteria, so that’s another reason to keep them out, and we need to add in beneficial stuff that will feed and nourish our gut flora, including nutrients from whole foods and also probiotic foods. Fermented foods and beverages are best – fermented veggies, kimchi, chutneys, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt are a few options. Most people need a probiotic supplement as well, and many of these over-the-counter helpers are potent enough that that can protect against pathogens such as Salmonella, yeast, cholera, and E.coli. Need a good probiotic? Young Living’s Life 9 is awesome!
9. Add high quality supplements to your diet.
Vitamin D3 is a key player in immune health. In fact, the flu has been linked to Vit. D deficiency, and supplementing Vit. D has been shown to be much more effective and a lot safer than getting a flu shot. Vit. D deficiency is linked to a whole list of chronic diseases and issues. Daily supplementation recommendations say you need about 35 IUs per pounds of body weight. You also need to take Vitamin K2 (about 90 MCG daily) with your D3, so that your body can readily use the D vitamin. Sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D, but the UV-B rays aren’t at the right angle year-round to give us the amount we need.
Vitamin C is another great supplement, but don’t try getting yours from orange juice, as you’ll be getting too much sugar! Sweet red bell peppers have more Vitamin C, plus other great nutrients, and broccoli is another good source. Young Living makes a fantastic Super C supplement if you need to beef up your Vitamin C intake.
Other great supplements include Young Living’s NingXia Red and ImmuPro, Echinacea and Goldenseal (you can get these online or at a health food store), Colloidal Silver, elderberry syrup (make your own with this recipe), and even apple cider vinegar (1-2 Tablespoons daily).
We are all under so much stress, whether it is from work, school, holidays, crazy schedules, etc. Stress weakens the immune system, and doctors are now saying that most illness and disease is caused by or linked to stress! Yikes! Here are a few ways you can lower the stress in your life:
- Laugh a lot – studies show it not only reduces stress, but it can boost immune function! Watch a silly movie, go to a comedy club, enjoy your favorite sit-com on Netflix. Just get laughing!
- Pray more, if you’re a person of faith – studies show this absolutely helps to lower stress and protect your immune system.
- Exercise – any kind will do, but yoga is known to be a great stress-buster!
- Have fun/enjoy life – don’t let work and all things serious consume your life. Get out and do some things you really enjoy every once in awhile.
- Talk to and be with others – hang out with people you like, and find a confidant to talk through the stress in your life with, whether it be a family member, friends, or even a professional counselor.
- Use the Emotional Freedom Technique – This revolutionary technique involves tapping acupressure points to help lower stress.
- Use AFT, the Aroma Freedom Technique – This is an amazing technique that involves using essential oils to help release negative emotions and thoughts that are trapped in your body.
11. Rinse your nasal passages frequently.
One of the reasons that winter is associated with cold and flu season is because cooler/cold, dry weather can dry up nasal passages. There are cilia, hair-like filaments in your nose that are bathed in mucus to help trap and filter out microscopic viruses and bacteria. If the cilia are working properly, germs are collected in the mucus, and then swept down the throat, where they are destroyed by stomach acid. This keeps the germs out of your sinuses or lungs. When the air is very cold or dry, the cilia don’t work like they should and germs get past them and into areas where they can wreak havoc. (Incidentally, antihistamines can decrease cilia activity as well!) Warm, salty water can clean and rinse a lot of germs out of the nose. It can also help re-hydrate the nose to encourage cilia activity. Neti pots, nasal irrigation systems, or even a saline nasal spray is helpful. They are great for allergies too!
12. Drink lots of pure water!
Water makes your body function better, and helps to wash out the bad stuff. Our cells are comprised of mostly water, and they need to be hydrated in order to work like they should. Pure, filtered water is best, as tap water contains contaminants including chlorine, flouride, and other toxins that can weaken instead of support the immune system. We use a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system to remove contaminants from our water. It makes the water taste so fresh and good too!
13. Get regular chiropractic adjustments.
Research and studies on chiropractic treatment suggests that regular chiropractic adjustments can boost immunity. Spinal misalignments stress the nervous system, which stresses the body overall and leads to altered immune function and increased susceptibility to a variety of diseases. Regular spinal adjustments have been shown to reduce or eliminate this stress and also to increase white blood cell count significantly. In a ground-breaking 1975 study, patients who had received long-term chiropractic care were shown to have a 200% greater immune function than people who had not received chiropractic care, and a 400% greater immune function than people with cancer or serious diseases. It makes that much difference!
14. Try Earthing or Grounding.
You can help your immune system stay healthy by walking barefoot on the ground–grass/dirt or sand is best. This one may sound a bit “out there” but considering that we are electrical beings, with a complex electrical system comprising our bodies, it’s not too crazy to think that we need to electrically “ground” ourselves periodically to stay healthy. The Earth is basically a gigantic magnet which can help with that. Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot contact with the Earth.
15. Avoid antibiotics when possible.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but antibiotics are actually immuno-suppressants. Taking them is like dropping an atomic bomb on a battlefield where the bad guys and good guys are both fighting. You may kill out the offenders, but you also kill the good guys. Not only that, but once the friendly bacteria are gone, they are often replaced by hostile bacteria like C-diff and Staphylococcus aureus that can cause new and recurring issues. Consider these facts:
- Just one dose of a high potency antibiotic, or a short course of a lower potency one can wipe out your gut flora to the point that it eradicates its protective effect and it can take anywhere from 6 months to a year for it to recover. Know anyone who is always sick and constantly on antibiotics?
- Studies have also shown that antibiotics can permanently alter your gut flora – certain important strains are killed out and never return
- If you take antibiotics, you can develop drug resistance for up to a year
- According to research, almost all upper respiratory infections are caused by fungus, so antibiotics don’t help those, yet they are commonly prescribed
- Overuse of antibiotics is contributing to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria
So there you go! Lots of options, all easy, and many of them are absolutely free! Remember, anything you can do to help your immune system is a step in the right direction. You don’t have to incorporate all these suggestions. But the more you do, the healthier you will be!
Best wishes for a happy, healthy season!