Immunity, we know why we need it
The human body has an incredible defense system that works systematically to keep foreign invaders and nasty illnesses at bay. The immune system is this line of defense, but there are really several systems that play a role in your body’s immunity. Like just about everything, the immune system isn’t perfect and it can fail, and often does for some. There are many health conditions that can weaken immunity, along with poor health and lifestyle habits.
At this time of year, illness is much more common and frequent. The idea of boosting your immunity with this supplement or that drink mix seems enticing and makes a great marketing tool, however, we need to understand that the immune system is a bit more complex, as it isn’t a single function, but rather exactly as it is named: a system. For the immune defense of your body to do it’s job well, it needs balance and harmony. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that all need to be in good health in order to contribute their role in keeping you healthy and thriving. In this article, we hope to help you understand that immunity “boosting” is really a lifestyle and that some of these tips can help you make wise choices for your family healthy and wellness this season. Keep reading!
Sleep is not overrated!
We were all born with the basic, physiological need for sleep, and for a great reason, without it, our bodies will shut down. It is common knowledge that a lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis, contributes to a box-full of health problems.Tests and studies have found that lack of sleep causes an inflammatory response which can then lead to an array of problems in itself. Also, it has been found that adequate sleep is critical to training the immune system’s response following vaccinations. Have you ever noticed that one of the symptoms of illness, with just about every kind you can get, is sleepiness? This is because our immune system is informing the brain to sleep more in order to strengthen itself to fend off the infection. Sleep is strength, and for many reasons, we need it! aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and for kids, 9-10. Luckily, with our shorter hours of daylight and fewer activities due to weather, this can more easily be done!
Sugar is sweet, but it isn’t nice!
Sugar is something we all know by now isn’t good for us, but do you know why? Let’s talk in regards to immunity, because we could be here all day with this one. Sugar can reduce your immunity up to 40% for about 7-8 hours following a moderate consumption. That’s quite a blow! Sugar seems to be squeezed into a large amount of our food products, so be careful about what you eat and start incorporating more fruits, but even more vegetables and proteins into your family diet. One of the best ways to incorporate more vegetables would be in soups, perfect for this time of year. Beans, onions, carrots, celery, spinach, kale, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. Make a big pot of soup with bone broth, garlic, seasonings, beans, rice, noodles, different meats… you get the idea!
For breakfast, you can make bowls of oatmeal and top with diced fruits and yogurt. Avoid breakfast cereals since they contain a lot of added sugar, not to mention the sugar content in milk combined. Though a natural, digestible and useable sugar, fruit is still sugar so try to limit your daily amount. If you get a sweet tooth, opt for naturally sweetened foods and try some of your own recipes at home and use less sugar than the measured amount. There are many great options for reducing sugar consumption and making healthier choices without opting for “no sugar” processed options which contain artificial sweeteners. Pinterest is a great tool for finding such recipes!
Exercise is a key player in building and maintaining your immune army. Sweating is one way the body eliminates toxins from the body, of those we eat, drink, and breath. Exercise is vital for so many reasons, but especially in immune function since movement promotes the circulation of lymph, also part of the immune system. Lymph moves rather slowly and requires movement to get going. Get your kids going by taking them to the park while the weather is tolerable, or take them to some indoor parks or gyms so they can move around with you. Aim for about 30 minutes a day, or even several times a week at the least.
There is no supplement for a poor diet, plain and simple. You are what you eat, as commonly said. Start by implementing a lot of plant foods, whole grains and proteins. Dark, leafy greens contain a lot of minerals and vitamins including magnesium, which is vital for bone and muscle health. It can be tough to get kids to eat vegetables, but soups might be your golden ticket here! While a good diet is a pillar to good health, sometimes we need help getting all the necessary nutrients our bodies need. This is where high quality supplements can be useful and sometimes necessary. It is always advised to seek medical advice on what supplements are needed for your family members, so please see your doctor.
Vitamin D – In our area of the Northwest, people are generally deficient in Vitamin D, most of the year. There is very little in food and there are only two ways we can get it, from the sun and from supplementation. Our bodies cannot produce it. As a fat soluble vitamin that can build up in the system, consult your doctor about yours and your family’s level and supplement accordingly.
Vitamin C – For immunity, Vitamin C is quite well known for getting over illness more quickly. Many vegetables such as colored peppers, oranges, kiwis, broccoli, and tomatoes are high in vitamin C. Orange juice isn’t a great source since it contains high amounts of sugar and is commonly made from concentrate, not real juice. If you can find real juice with no additional sugar, moderation is key!
Probiotics – are necessary for gut health, which makes up about 70% of our immune system! Good and bad bacteria are both present in the colon and need to remain balanced for good health. Taking a probiotic can keep the balance and eliminate some of this bad bacteria which improves the overall health and immune response of your body. Talk to your doctor about what probiotics are good for you and your kids.
As a parent, the healthy of our kids is always a forethought, especially now that fall is here and cold weather is settling in. While working on these 4 S’s is a good practice for improved health, all year, it isn’t a guarantee for a sick-free season. We still get sick, but when you do and your health is relatively good, chances of remaining sick are far less! Stay tuned for our next article about some habits you can teach your kids to stay healthy and happy at school!