If you haven’t started preparing your immune system for the “sick” season now is a great time to start. Winter is the time of year that a lot of people get sick for a few different reasons. In the colder months people are indoors and in close quarters for a longer period of time then in the warmer weather which can help spread germs to others. There are a number of specific things you can do to build up your defense.
What Causes People to Get Sick?
Just merely being around someone else who is sick doesn't mean that you too will get sick. Have you ever heard about parents having a chicken pox party? Well maybe not so much today because a lot of parents hope their children will never get sick, but when I was growing up this was somewhat of a normal thing to do. The idea is that if one child in the neighborhood has chicken pox, they invite all the other children over so that they too can get chicken pox and then build up the natural antibodies they need so that they will never get it again. Since chicken pox is a more serious illness as a child gets older parents would host these parties to get this out of the way early on in the child's life. After these “chicken pox parties” were over some children would get chicken pox and others would not. Why is that? It could be a number of reasons, these are some of the reasons why we get sick:
- Lack of rest. Getting adequate amounts of sleep is important for a strong immune system. In the Winter season it is important to get extra rest, slow down, and take more time to relax.
- Vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D3 are more likely to happen in the colder months because people are indoors much more and the primary source of vitamin D is from sunlight. Without adequate levels of vitamin D the immune system is not at its best.
- Vitamins A & C. Both important vitamins for immune function. Low levels of these vitamins can play a role in why someone might get sick.
- Poor diet. Eating the standard American diet is not sufficient nutrition for the immune system or for any other systems in the body as well. Eating a diet full of processed and packaged foods will not support a healthy immune system. Even just a short term period of not eating well can affect the immune system.
Children Need to Get Sick in Order to be Well
As adults, we don’t like getting sick – its uncomfortable and inconvenient. Since we know how horrible it feels to be sick we want to keep our kids from getting sick as well. Children don’t like getting sick either but it’s actually really good for kids to get sick. It’s hard when children are sick because we hate to see them uncomfortable and if they are too young to communicate we don’t even know how to help them. The good thing about getting a cold is that it is helping your child build a healthy immune system. Exposure to these little colds helps them build anti-bodies and strengthen their overall immune system. With that being said, it is still very important to keep kids immune system strong and to teach them good hygiene like washing their hands.
How to Prevent Illness
The best way to prevent illness and keep the immune system in top working order is to eat a healthy diet. This phrase “healthy diet” can be confusing because this term gets thrown around very often and is not well defined. Here is my definition of a healthy diet:
- Lots of organic vegetables
- Healthy fats – olive oil, coconut oil, raw organic butter (if you tolerate dairy) and avoid vegetable oils
- Pastured meats and eggs (not factory farmed)
- Wild caught fish
- Beans and legumes
- Organic raw nuts and seeds
- Homemade stocks, broths and soups – vegetable, chicken, beef, fish, etc.
- Organic fruits (in season)
- Low grain, no grain, soaked or sprouted grain, or sourdough
- Fermented foods and beverages – kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut
- Avoid gluten (if you have any digestive issues) Read this post Why is Everyone Going Gluten Free
- Avoid refined sugar – stick to honey, maple syrup, and stevia
- Avoid packaged and processed foods
Strictly adhering to this diet will strengthen your immune system greatly and also improve all the other functions of your body. This diet prevents colds and flu's but also helps to prevent more serious diseases as well. In addition to a healthy diet there are some supplements that can be added for enhanced benefits.
- Elderberry Syrup
- Fish oil – top quality, or fermented cod liver oil
- Raw honey
- Vitamin D3 K2
- Vitamin C – rose hips are a great herbal source
How Are You Preparing For Cold & Flu Season? What Are Your Favorite Prevention Strategies Or Remedies?