Are you ALWAYS getting sick? Digestive issues, chronic fatigue, allergies and asthma, joint pain, weight fluctuations, anemia, hair loss? Does it take FOR. EV. ER to heal from injuries? This my friend, is a cry of help from your Immune System, “something is off! Help me!!” It’s saying. Your job is to listen to what it’s trying to tell you. Symptoms are never something to ignore, they are a sign that something in your body is unbalanced. This is why it is so important to pay attention to them. To figure out the root cause rather than take a pill to just “make them go away”. They will not go away until you figure out what is causing them.
YOUR IMMUNE HEALTH
Did you know that 80% of our immune system is found in our intestinal walls? Genetics and environmental factors all play a role in the strength of your immune system, but it’s the non-genetic factors that play the biggest role. This is great news because that means we have the power to do something about it! The modern American diet (consisting of packaged “phood” and too much sugar) and overuse of antibiotics are two of the major players that are damaging our gut. It’s because of this that our country continues to see a sharp increase in dis-ease like autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cancer, allergies, food intolerances, and severely depressed immune systems.
“How can I boost my immune system?”
It’s no surprise to me that one of the most common questions I get is “How can I boost my immunity?” You see (and stop me if you’ve heard this before), but back in 2011/2012 my family and I had the stomach flu 17 times. Most of that was between my oldest, who was 2/3 at the time, and myself. Undiagnosed Celiac Disease and some hormonal issues were crushing my immune system. Not to mention the fact that I was postpartum (I had a newborn/1 year old while going through this hell) and I was also training for a half marathon at that time (and not putting best-practices into place for recovery, therefore severely fatiguing my adrenals). My body just said, “I’ve had enough!”
To say that 2012 was “rough” is an understatement. It was one of the most challenging years of my life, but it was also the most pivotal. We decided to pull our oldest out of pre-school to get us all healthy, I quit my job in Advertising (I sucked at it anyway), and I did nothing but focus on boosting our family’s immune system naturally for the next year and a half. By the time the oldest started Kindergarten, he did not miss one day of school due to illness.
what works for us
So how did we do it? What did we do to naturally boost our immune system? Well, there are 100’s of supportive supplements, herbs, and foods that others swear by and we definitely incorporated immune-boosting food (garlic, green tea, citrus etc) but we also found a few other little-known immunity boosters and these are what worked for my family to build our strong immune systems and healthy gut.
1. ESSENTIAL OILS
Now, this is one of the more well-known immunity supports. I got into essential oils around the same time we got sick because I like “low-hanging fruit”. If I had easy access to something that contained certain medicinal properties that could support our issues, why not try it? I was desperate at this point. And you know what desperation does to a person. Well, we discovered that these oils work for us. (Peppermint is my savior!) So after much research and testing, I developed an essential oil blend with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. I use it in a rollerball blend and rub it on the bottom of our feet in the morning and before bed. You can now get it in my online wellness store, ApotheKellyShop.com (2019 edit: shop is currently closed for rebranding)
2. FERMENTED FOODS
A strong immune system starts with a healthy gut. With 80% of our Immune System found in our gut, so it only makes sense to support the good bacteria in there. You see, fermented foods contain beneficial probiotic bacteria and by consuming said bacteria you are adding that “good stuff” to your overall intestinal flora. Also, increasing the health of your gut microbiome, improving your digestion, giving a boost to your immune system and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Saurkraut, greek yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha are all delicious ways give your immune system a boost! Make sure you purchase it from the refrigerated section at your grocery store.
See above. Fermented foods are a natural way we can support our body by eating, but you can also take probiotics in a pill form to help inoculate your belly with the good stuff.
4. FIRE CIDER
This stuff is potent and is not for the weak of heart, lol. Not really, but it does have a kick to it! Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine is said to have developed a similar “potion” called oxymel (a mixture of honey and vinegar) to treat ailments and also was inspired by the “Thieves” essential oil blend.
Fire Cider is a traditional folk recipe using apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers as a base, along with seasonal herbs and vegetables that can be tossed in there for an added boost like jalapenos, lemon peel, turmeric, and rosemary. Fire cider is said to restore and invigorate one’s immune system helping ward off colds and viruses, helps with digestion, ease sinus congestion, manages blood sugar levels, and boosts energy levels. You can make it yourself (I start in August, it takes about 4-6 week to infuse all of the goodness together) or this is the brand I purchase for my family when I don’t make it:
5. ELDERBERRY SYRUP
Another folk recipe from the 17th century, elderberries are high in anti-oxidants and flavonoids (specifically anthocyanins which are responsible for their deep purple color) that work to keep the immune system strong. Elderberry is also believed to contain anti-viral properties with compounds so potent they can shut down viruses. Viruses need healthy cells in order to multiple (they can’t multiply on their own) and have these spikes on them called “haemagglutinin spikes”. These are enzymes used to help them penetrate cell walls (so they can get in there and replicate). But elderberries have a high concentration of bioflavonoids which appear to repress this enzyme, essentially rendering them useless when trying to pierce cell walls.
For me, much easier and cost-effective to buy organic elderberries off of Amazon and make it myself. (4 cups of water, 1 cup of elderberries, OPTIONAL: cinnamon, clove, lemon peel, simmer down halfway, cool and add 1 cup of raw honey. store in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.)
You’re probably scratching your head right now, mushrooms? Seriously? Yes, I believe that mushrooms have the ability to heal our world problems (maybe not our government, but I won’t go there….) For now, we’ll focus on why mushrooms are immune powerhouses, how they can enhance gut health, and how they are a FANTASTIC support for those with autoimmune issues.
For over 5,000 years, Eastern Medical practitioners have known that mushrooms contain powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and today’s conventional scientific research helps support their beliefs. Consisting of immune-boosting and disease-fighting compounds mushrooms are a powerhouse when it comes to killing infections, fighting cancer, viruses, dis-ease, and inflammation, and increasing your body’s ability to stay healthy.
How do they do it?
Mushrooms are adaptogenic, which means they help regulate and stabilize your immune function. Abundant in polysaccharides, mushrooms not only balance out your immune system so that isn’t too hypo- or hyper-active, they also help reinforce and maintain cell structure, which is crucial for a healthy immune system. My naturopath recommended Host Defense Staments 7, it’s now a staple in my Immune Boosting arsenal.
Host Defense® Stamets 7® Capsules use activated, freeze-dried, Certified Organic mycelium, with a full spectrum of constituents: polysaccharides (beta glucans, arabinoxylane, glucose, xylose, galactose and cordycepic acid), glycoproteins, ergosterols, triterpenoids, and other myco-nutrients, which are essential for Supporting Natural Immunity.*
It’s important to remember that a healthy gut = a healthy immune system. Take care of them and they will take care of you.
*This post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to purchase, but please know that I do not promote anything that I have not personally used for myself or my family.*