By Claire Bacon, ACN, CNC
Greetings, everyone! We’ve made it to December, and you know what that means: colder days, less outdoor exercise and much more holiday stress! For most of us, this also means more parties, more eating out, and more sugary treats. Uh oh… does that make you worry about staying well? Have you ever wondered, is it a just coincidence that “cold and flu season” just happens to occur when we reduce our daily sunshine and let other priorities take the place of our healthy habits?
This time of year, there is no shortage of reminders to “get your flu shot.” By the prevalence of this message, you would think this is the only thing you can do to stay well. However, this medical intervention is not very effective. It comes with some risks, and its ingredients are not safe for everyone. We have a long list of other options that we believe are much healthier and safer for maintaining your health and vitality…
Vitamin D for Staying Well
Through the summer, we are able to make a decent amount of vitamin D. That is, if we get some daily sunlight exposure and consume a good amount of essential fatty acids. We also get some vitamin D from foods like salmon, eggs and meat. However, once we start wearing long sleeves and staying indoors on the weekends, just about everyone becomes deficient. For this reason, we often recommend supplementation with vitamin D3 through the winter.
Our Vitamin D levels must be kept sufficiently high year-round for several reasons:
- To achieve deep sleep,
- to make proper use of our B vitamins,
- to pick up calcium out of the gut and put it into the bloodstream,
- to provide important precursors for our hormones, and especially promote thyroid hormone conversion, and
- to maintain strong T-regulatory cells within our immune system.
Cod Liver Oil for Staying Well
Cod Liver Oil is like an “insurance policy” for Americans, who are unlikely to eat organ meats, and thus are often lacking in vitamins A and D. Our grandparents were raised on spoonfuls of cod liver oil for a reason! Cod liver oil naturally provides vitamins A and D. Vitamin A is necessary for proper utilization of vitamin D within the body. Cod liver oil also supplies essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are necessary for brain function and development, as well as reducing inflammation.
Cod liver oil is known to provide healing action within the intestinal lining, where the majority of our immune system resides. It’s one of the top things you can do to heal a leaky gut. And by doing that, you can ease symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, and food sensitivities, too.
Fresh Fruit (Especially Berries)
The natural, whole vitamin C complex in fresh fruits like kiwi, berries and oranges is essential to the immune system. Consuming the whole fruit with the fiber slows the absorption of fruit sugar (fructose) and gives many other vitamins, too. The whole vitamin C complex consists of bioflavonoids, antioxidants, rutin and tyrosinase, in addition to the ascorbic acid, which acts like a preservative for the rest. Your body doesn’t make vitamin C on its own, and it doesn’t store it, either. So, it’s important to consume these foods on a regular basis.
What about those cheap ascorbic acid supplements on the market? These can be helpful temporarily if you are already sick, because they acidify the gastrointestinal tract. However, they are a poor approach for long-term health, as they don’t provide the full vitamin C complex that comes in whole, fresh fruit, and furthermore, can cause damage to the kidneys over time.
Homemade Chicken Broth
Homemade Chicken Broth is so easy and economical to make at home. Once you get the hang of it, you will never want to buy that store-bought watered-down broth again! Homemade broth contains loads of minerals that come directly from the bones and the bone marrow. You can use the bones from chicken, duck, beef, lamb or fish. Bone broth can be cooked anywhere from 3 to 36 hours in a crock pot. You could also make it in about 45 minutes in a pressure cooker. Either way, it is the most economical healing food you can consume.
Bone broths contain fantastic minerals for supporting the immune system and healing the gut lining. If you’re having trouble with any kind of skin issue, like Rosacea, acne, or rashes, etc. you owe it to yourself to start making bone broth! It can help you heal from the inside out!
Probiotics and Fermented Foods
Lacto-fermented foods are living foods – literally teeming with beneficial bacteria and enzymes! You should realize that one of the foundational keys to great health is having a diverse living population of bacteria in the gut. Why? Because of lots of reasons…
- A strong, diverse microbiome assists in our digestion,
- keeps Candida and parasites at bay,
- strengthens our immune system,
- creates B vitamins to support calmness and wellbeing, and
- helps remove heavy metal exposures from our gut.
The biofilm created by these living organisms coats our intestinal tract and serves as our first line of defense from environmental toxins.
So how to start? An easy first step is to try Coconut Kefir – it is a consistency like yogurt and can be flavored with fruit or cinnamon. Or, you can enjoy it mixed with seeds or a Keto granola. My other favorites include Ginger-Berry Kombucha or fermented Beet Kvass. If you prefer to take a probiotic, we recommend a variety of strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium – even better with some Saccharomyces yeast added in. Make sure any probiotic you take is not cultured on a potential food allergen – like dairy, corn, wheat or soy.
Exercise for Staying Well
There is nothing like exercise to help boost the metabolism and mitochondrial growth in our cells. The mitochondria produce ATP which create energy. Physical activity does many things to support good health, such as:
- Flushing bacteria out of the lungs and airways,
- Stimulating white blood cells,
- Increasing body temperature, and
- Slowing the release of stress hormones.
These stress hormones can have a suppressive effect on the immune system. So, the benefits from exercise help to keep you well! We recommend that you incorporate short, fast intervals to your regular cardio training. Bounce and jump to move your lymph. And sweat, sweat, sweat!
Herbs for Staying Well
Oh my goodness, where do I start discussing my favorite herbs?!? Most people have heard of Echinacea, but did you know that it works best the longer you take it; you are not getting its best benefit if you only take it when you start feeling ill. Furthermore, there tend to be quality issues with cheap Echinacea on the market. If you compare to our liquid Echinacea Premium made by Mediherb, you will instantly notice the potency as it tingles your tongue with its powerful alkylamides. In addition, Astragalus root supports the immune system, your vigor and vitality, as well as a healthy stress response.
And Mediherb’s Andrographis Complex, which also includes Holy Basil as well as Echinacea, is an even more targeted support for upper respiratory tissues. Did you know that the multitude of adaptogenic herbs like Ashwaganda Forte, Rehmannia, Eleuthero and Rhodiola can also benefit the immune system, because of their powerful effects modulating the stress response? With so many choices, it really helps to have an expert opinion. Let us help you with a personalized herbal protocol to fit your needs.
Chiropractic for Staying Well
Chiropractic adjustments are a regular lifestyle choice for all of us here at East Cobb Spine & Sport. Numerous research studies have shown that chiropractic care positively impacts immune system function. Maybe some of you still reach for OTC cold meds, but if we get the sniffles, we run to our amazing chiropractors – Dr. Bacon and Dr. Wilkie!
Adjusting the spine gives an immediate boost to the function of the central nervous system, which controls EVERYTHING. When the central nervous system functions at 100%, three things happen:
- the immune system has more power,
- the stress response is more appropriate, and
- deeper growth and repair is possible.
For more information about how chiropractic care can help the immune system function better, visit www.chiro.org/research and www.icpa4kids.org.
Common Sense Avoidance
And I suppose it goes without saying that we should minimize unhealthy influences like alcohol and sugar. Unfortunately, these have a direct and detrimental effect on your immune function. If you have a hard time saying no during the holiday season, read this article for some healthy tips.
Helpful Supplements for Staying Well
There are so many things you can do to stay well! And a whole lot of products you can keep in your natural medicine cabinet, just in case!
A few of our favorites…
- Cataplex D: Without the benefit of daily sun exposure, we need to be more proactive about supporting our D level. This is a whole-food sourced product, so it is not a high dose, but it is highly absorbable. That means you can get plenty of benefit to your vitamin D level and immunity from taking this all winter long.
- Echinacea Premium: This is a potent extract from the Echinacea root. It’s the most powerful part of the plant with the highest alkylamide content. Just a little bit for a long period of time is the best way to build and normalize your immune system.
- Cyruta Plus: This is a whole-food vitamin C product sourced from buckwheat leaf juice. The whole complex contains bioflavonoids, P factors, J factors, tyrosinase, and more! Vitamin C is sooo much more than ascorbic acid. If you’d like the additional benefits of capillary strengthening (to prevent nosebleeds and bruising) and easing arterial inflammation, you’ll love this product!