The importance of a strong immune system
Our immune systems are the first line of defense we have against many illnesses. From the common cold virus, to bacteria infections and viruses such as COVID-19; our bodies have the insane ability to build up immunity to just about anything, if we take care of them (excluding diseases such as Ebola) For this article, we are going to discuss how we can develop a healthy immune system, excluding those who are immunocompromised already.
When our immune systems are operating properly, we lessen our risk of catching the flu, colds, bacterial infections; and yes, even the COVID-19 virus. But in order to do so, we have to be taking care of our bodies all the time, not just when pandemic or emergencies strike.
Up until this winter, I got sick all the time. To the point where I contemplated getting my tonsils removed, because I was certain that was the cause of my monthly colds. But once I evaluated my daily routines and made some lifestyle changes, I noticed an immediate difference.
Holistic Health and Modern Medicine
I am a firm believer that modern medicine and holistic health combined would create a force to be reckoned with. It's important to understand that modern medicine is a tremendous gift, that has bettered the lives of millions of people around the globe. When paired with holistic treatments we can witness extraordinary results, with holistic health treatments available at affordable rates. I am going to dive in to my tips for boosting our immune system, by combining modern medicine with holistic care. Please note that I am not a medical professional, and these tips should not be used as a replacement for a physician or medical professional. I hope you enjoy this article and find some guidance and help to better your physical, spiritual and mental health.
Tips to boosting your immune system
- Stay Hydrated
- Drink Herbal Teas
- Get Plenty of Sleep
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Take supplements & multivitamins
- Cleanse your space
- Develop Coping Mechanisms for Stress
Most Americans don't drink enough water, I know that very few of my spiritual healing clients are drinking enough water each day. Mayo clinic (2017) suggests about 15.5 cups of water each day for men, and 11.5 cups each day for women. Staying hydrated is said to help our bodies first lines of defense against pathogens, our mucous membranes. When we are dehydrated, these membranes are incapable of producing mucus to trap pathogens. (Remember 7th grade science?)
Drinking proper amounts of water also helps flush toxins from our bodies, balance our chakras easier, combat mental health and also gives us better skin!
Do you struggle with drinking water? I know that many struggle with drinking water, because they HATE it. Personally, I'm a little no nonsense with this, but I say "Tough it out, chug it and get it over with". But I know that approach doesn't work for everyone. But there is a simple solution to this problem; and that lies in our herbal teas. I will never suggest water additives to make water "taste" good, as we have NO idea what chemicals etc are in those products, and I just can't ethically get behind additives. But herbal teas can help us address our hydration issues, while offering extra perks for our health and wellbeing. My favorite tea for boosting my immune system has been Elderberry Tea.
WebMD lists Elderberry berries and flowers as packed full of antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system, as well as help tame inflammation, lessen stress and even offer additional benefits for heart health! Elderberry tea has been recommended to prevent and ease cold and flu systems, and has been a major part of my prevention of COVID-19. (Ratini, 2019) Please consult with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as it is mentioned that you shouldn't take this supplement/tea if you are pregnant.
Hippocrates used elderberry often, and referred to the tree as "His medicine chest". I personally take elderberry supplements as well as a Ojibwa/Eldertree tea blend three times a week.
I mix a tablespoon of raw honey with a cup of tea and enjoy. I prefer my tea cold, so I simply add three ice cubs into my cub and stir.
Chamomile & Lavender Tea
Harvard Health lists reducing stress, as well as getting enough sleep as two healthy ways to boost our immune system. WebMD lists Chamomile tea as being a treatment for anxiety, troubles falling asleep and as a treatment for mild stomach ailments. (Ratini, 2019)
Chamomile has been used for centuries to treat physical ailments, and is best known for stress relief, anxiety relief, a sleep aid and to be used to help balance our intestinal tract.
Although peppermint tea might not boost your immune system, it is important to have a small supply of peppermint tea on hand. Peppermint tea is said to help balance our digestive systems, and relieve discomfort in our digestive tract. Peppermint tea can help alleviate nausea, cramping, spams and stomach pain. (WebMD, n.d.) This is one of my go to herbal tea blends if I am feeling sick, especially if I have the flu.
I mix warm water, peppermint, elderberry and honey in a large mug. I use 1-2 tablespoons of honey and sip on the blend throughout the day. This helps with my sore throat, and I think helps with my breathing. This is just my experience so I chose to share that with you today.
Diet & Exercise
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is a huge part of a healthy immune system. Having our diets balanced helps us receive the proteins and healthy carbs needed to function, as well as antioxidants and vitamins that are packed into fruits and vegetables. Fruits high in vitamin C are great to be consuming on a daily basis and can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. During this COVID-19 pandemic, I am working to consume more fruits and vegetables. My favorites are oranges, lemons, spinach, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, strawberries, bananas and blueberries.
Consider grocery pickup or delivery services to avoid the grocery store, and wash your produce immediately upon it entering your home. I normally don't wash my produce until I am ready to eat it; but during this pandemic I am taking extra precautions regarding uncooked food.
Maintaining a healthy weight is always important in regards to overall health. Exercise in particular is a huge factor in our immune systems. Before the Coronavirus hit the United States, I was exercising every day at the local gym. I would begin my work out by some comfortable stretching, and then run as a warm up. If you are uncomfortable running, I'd advice walking on the treadmill with a heavy incline (max that incline out!! You're walking, lets get that heart rate up). I would then spend 25-30 minutes doing a Vinyasa yoga flow; and 20 minutes or so meditating after my yoga session. Not only have I lost considerable size, but I feel amazing. But that is another blog post for another day! During the Coronavirus pandemic, applications such as DownDog have began offering their subscription services for free to encourage exercise while on quarantine. Check out DownDog in the app store, I love this app and I use it almost every time I do yoga.
If I feel a cold coming on, I always take vitamin C. But on a daily basis, I take Elderberry and a woman's multivitamin to help maintain my immune system, as well as overall health.
I'm not going to suggest a multivitamin here, as I believe you should find one that you like best, and research all the options prior to just buying one. My advice would be to find a multivitamin that contains Magnesium. Magnesium is vital to mental wellbeing and our bodies function, yet is missing from our standard American diets.
Cleansing Our Space
It's important that we take extra precautions to cleanse our space. From washing our hands with antibacterial soap, keeping a clean house and proper hygiene, to cleansing our energy and the energy around us.
Obviously, we want to wash our hands for a minimum of 30 seconds with warm soapy water. Using disinfectant such as Lysol on hard surfaces in our homes, especially in bathrooms and kitchens can help the spread of bacteria and viruses in our homes. But it's also important that we remember to cleanse our energy, as well as our physical surroundings. To cleanse our energy, you can use a variety of methods. We can us singing bowls and 432hz or 528hz music and raise the vibrations of our homes, surroundings and even our moods!
White sage, Palo Santo, Sweetgrass and various other herbs are all great tools to use in cleansing our homes. To cleanse our homes with sage, grab a fire safe bowl, a bundle of white sage and a lighter or candle. Open a window, and light your sage. Be sure to blow out the flame, and allow the sage stick to smolder creating lots of smoke. Carrying your sage in one hand, and the bowl in the other, walk around your home and focus on removing any negative energies from your space. You can pray based on your religion, or you can physically say "Any negative energies are not welcome in my space, you must leave now.". You can say this mantra in your mind if you aren't comfortable saying it outloud.
Be sure to be thorough in your cleansing, getting under tables, in closets and basements. Think about where dust bunnies would accumulate if you didn't vacuum or sweep, and spend extra time there. Snuff out your sage or get it damp to extinguish the embers. The longer you sage the hotter that stick is going to burn, so when you are finished please make sure your sage stick is out.
Develop Coping Mechanisms to Handle Stress
Stress is one of the hardest things our bodies experience. Stress affects our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, and should be managed. Each person is going to have different coping mechanisms for stress, and I encourage you to find one that works best for you. Personally, I exercise, meditate, read, ride my horse and spend time with my little family. I strongly encourage you to find your own coping mechanism and stick with it. Stress is extremely hard on us, and needs to be taken more seriously in today's society.
Holistic health is a great addition to modern amenities and modern healthcare. It's important to be realistic and understand where holistic treatments have their limitations and adjusting our uses accordingly. If you feel as though you aren't feeling well, and think you may have contracted the Coronavirus, stay calm. Call your local medical provider to receive instructions on what your next steps are and most importantly stay calm. It's important that we are only testing individuals who are showing symptoms, so don't panic and listen to your healthcare professionals. This pandemic is a major wake up call for all humans to begin taking better care of our physical bodies, as well as our spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
Further resources on boosting our immune systems can be found in aromatherapy, reiki, meditation, massage and other methods. If you are truly interested in learning more I encourage you to dive into these topics.
Harvard Health Publishing. (2014, September). How to boost your immune system. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, September 6). Water: How much should you drink every day? Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
Ratini, M. (2019, January 17). Elderberry: Health Benefits, Risks, Uses, Effectiveness. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/elderberry-health-benefits#:~:text=The berries and flowers of,ease cold and flu symptoms.
Ratini, M. (2019, March 20). Chamomile Plant, Tea, and Oils: Health Benefits and Uses. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-chamomile#1
Web MD. (n.d.). Peppermint: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-705/peppermint