Fall is here, flu season is coming, and I have been bracing myself for news of rising Covid rates. While I spent several years becoming education in the practice of natural health, our family has adopted some tried and true tactics that we can use to give our immune systems a boost and increase our odds of staying well.
These tactics have a lot of research behind them; too much to share right now, but here they are in a nutshell.
So Long Sugar:
I know, this isn’t popular advice. Research shows that sugar is extremely addictive, ten times more so than cocaine. It is “slipped” into almost everything that is premixed or boxed because it is a cheap filler and people crave it. Yet it is destabilizing to the immune system because its structure is similar to vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient which fighter cells of the immune system need in order to function. When blood sugar is high, white blood cells are tricked into absorbing sugar instead of vitamin C, and they are depressed for up to 6 hours afterward. If an individual consumes sugar they require larger doses of C.
At our house, we’ve found sugar to be the tipping point between bouncing back or succumbing to a cold. Autumn brings birthdays galore to our family, followed by all of the holidays which are so connected to sweet food traditions. We used to catch one thing after another as illnesses went around. When we swapped out the sugar for healthy alternatives, we found it is more rare that any of us get sick.
Now, we have a large family, and kids that range from 2 to 22. The little ones pretty much get stuck with whatever Mom puts on the table. The older ones and Dad sometimes choose to eat other than what I recommend, but all agree that they are more often well when they cut back or eliminate the sugar all together.
Besides what sugar does to the immune system, science has recognized that it can feed cancer cells, increase inflammation, contribute to diabetes, heart disease, hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, depletes calcium and much more. Sugar withdrawal is not fun for some, but it is worth it in the long run.
Does God care what we eat? I think He does. One of the first things that Genesis records is that God showed Adam and Eve what he had created for them to eat. We need food to live, and God is the supplier of those things that we need.
While the biblical authors were addressing problems such as eating foods that had been sacrificed to idols, these days we have to be concerned about whether our food is actually real food versus fake food (seriously). This topic can go really deep, but in the simplest of terms, eating real food means eating foods that are not processed:
- fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- hard cheeses (not processed slices or bottled and squeeze cheeses)
- real cow or goat milk, or dairy alternatives like almond, cashew, & coconut milk, without sugary additives
- good oils: butter, olive, avocado, and coconut oils are some of the best, and the right type of oils are important for healthy cell membranes.
- whole grains. Wheat and corn are two of the most genetically modified grains out there, and we avoid them because they can be very irritating to the intestines, among other problems. Organic is generally considered safer, and is not supposed to be modified, but there is always risk of contamination. Gluten free is now recommended by many doctors for individuals with allergies, Lyme Disease, auto immune diseases such as thyroid maladies, ADHD, and other “hard to diagnose” disorders.
Good gluten free grains include various forms of rice, quinoa, buckwheat, teff, millet, amaranth, oats (make sure it has been grown in a gluten free field to avoid contamination), and sorghum. Those I have put in bold font are known for having a higher protein content.
As sugary snacks are withdrawn and whole foods are added, nutrition naturally increases. Other sources of nutrition are:
- Supplements (a multi-vitamin/mineral and vitamin C are the starting point for our family).
- condiments like Braggs liquid aminos or Coconut aminos (more nutritious than soy)
- Nutritional yeast flakes (I’m not talking about brewers yeast) which adds flavor to popcorn or grains and veggies and pops with vitamin B’s,
- mineral salts like himalayan salt (fairly common to find at Costco and even Walmart these days).
- kelp flakes~ a small pinch of these in broth with other seasoning adds a big punch of minerals to meals, including those which are necessary for healthy thyroid function.
- herbs~ cooking with fresh or dehydrated herbs adds a wealth of nutrients to meals.
- fermented foods like home-made kraut, kefir and kombucha all add probiotic goodness to our meals, increase the nutritional profile of foods– including vitamin B (which is used by our bodies to combat the effects of stress) as well as increase the digestibility and bioavailability of the foods we eat.
- Enzymes~ we use enzymes with meals during high-need times in order to help our bodies better utilize the nutrition which is available. Probiotic rich foods are also high in enzymes and serve the same purpose.
- Sunshine! Yes, sunshine helps our bodies manufacture vitamin D, a hormone which is used for multiple purposes, but is well praised for its role in utilizing the minerals needed for strong teeth and bones.
- Water… don’t forget to drink lots of water. One way to calculate how much water to drink is to take weight, divide it in half, and adopt that number in ounces. A 130 pound woman should make it her goal to drink at least 65 ounces of water each day. This method has served me well. 🙂
Rest and Manage Stress:
Stress uses extra nutrition to combat, and can make one feel physically and emotionally exhausted. For all of us, lack of sleep is also a major stress to the immune system, so that is why I list them together.
Learning techniques to manage stress is important. I an not talking about simply controlling the way we feel about stress. Set boundaries to prevent taking on too many responsibilities. Learn to manage time and projects without procrastinating to prevent cortisol overload. Practice giving thanks instead of dwelling on the down side of circumstances. It is worth planning to be able to take a day of rest. This decreases the feeling of stress the rest of the week. All of these things help us reduce and cope with stresses which can have a depleting effect on our immune systems.
Setting boundaries to make sure we get a minimum amount of sleep is just as important. Becoming physically exhausted makes minor things feel like a bigger deal than they are, so rest is part of managing stress. On the other hand, if I feel unwell, a nap is often just what I need to come out on top.
Don’t forget to nourishing the spirit. If we become spiritually worn down and under nourished, stress is greater, our priorities can slip, our ability to listen to the Holy Spirit’s direction gets muffled, and decisions tend to be handled with less finesse. Spiritual health is pivotal to emotional and physical health.
TAG Time (Time Alone with GOD):
- Read our Bible and truly seek understanding. Our family does this individually, but I also read with the littles, and we all do this together at least once a week.
- Practice prayer with active listening. We tell God what is on our hearts and then listen to discern what is on His heart. He may also impart this during our Bible time.
- Repent when God reveals through scripture or quiet time that there is an area of sin that requires repentance. God always forgives, but we can’t grow in areas we are sinning unless we turn away from that sin and learn to think and act different.
- Give thanks~ List at least three things we are thankful for each day. Statistics show that people who practice thankfulness are happier and have less depression for weeks and months after. Taking time to be thankful reminds me God is in control and He is working for my good.
- Love God and love others. Doing good for others has been found to reduce the effects of stress. Imagine that!
Our family has had extremely good results with homeopathy to combat illnesses when they start. Colds and flus have resolved within 24 hours with the right “remedy” at the right time. This is a blessing we are thankful for!
There is a plethora of information on these and other tactics out there. These are just some of the basics, and doable for anyone with a little time to make a plan and practice to apply it. A thriving relationship with God, good nutrition, rest, and overall balance are all important, and contribute to good health.
* This information is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure.
Feature photo by Pixabay.