Gut Health is linked to your immunity, because around 80% of your immunity is made and housed in your gut. To fortify your immunity to build your natural defenses to viruses, you need to first focus on your gut health, because this is where health begins.
Gut health is the centerpiece of my wellness plan and it’s from where I plan all our meals.
First: what is “Immunity”
Your body is an incredible piece of exquisite machinery – and to narrow down your immune system to one sentence is incredibly basic and does not do justice to the miracle that is YOU!
However, for purpose of this article, you immune system defends your body from foreign and invading organisms, promoting protective immunity while maintaining tolerance to self. Auto-immunity is where the body literally starts to attack itself.
Here are my top 5 ways to strengthen your immunity:
1. Boost your Vitamin D with Sunshine!
The UVB rays from sunlight help to make immune-boosting Vitamin D. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased auto-immunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.
Vitamin D has been used (unknowingly) to treat infections such as tuberculosis before the advent of effective antibiotics. Tuberculosis patients were sent to sanatoriums where treatment included exposure to sunlight, which was thought to directly kill the tuberculosis. Cod liver oil, a rich source of vitamin D has also been employed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as for general increased protection from infections.
In Australia, we are blessed with high amounts of sunshine – get out in the midday sun and allow your large body parts to be directly exposed to the sunshine. Pull up your top to expose your belly, take your jeans off, and get your skin into the sunshine.
When I had my year of chronic mastitis, my naturopath recommended I did this everyday.
2. Focus on Digestion: Probiotics and Prebiotics
Think of every meal as a good combination of prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are the non-digestible fiber (for example, vegetables, legumes, chicory root, garlic, onion) that lives in the colon and is the food source for the good guys: the probiotics.
What are what you absorb, not what you eat. You could be eating the best diet on the planet, but if your gastric juices are not efficient and your gut health is compromised you wont get the absorption of nutrients from your food.
Good immunity starts with excellent nourishment. Focus on including lots of raw onion, garlic, ginger, leeks and chili. These ingredients contain quercetin, which is antibiotic and antiviral – and it survives the heating process in cooking.
The biochemistry of garlic makes it possible to help maintain a stable balance of the immune system:
“Garlic appears to enhance the functioning of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils, by mechanisms including modulation of cytokine secretion, immunoglobulin production, phagocytosis, and macrophage activation”
Include foods that are supremely nourishing for the gut wall, like bone broth, hydrated chia seeds, psyhillium husk, fruits, veges and good fats.
It’s natural in winter to hibernate more. Do it! Turn Netflix off, and get 8 hours of sleep a night – I do, every night! More when I’m feeling unwell. When you sleep, your body is able to naturally heal and repair and better equip your immune system to do its job.
My Top Tips for winding down:
- A few drops of lavender oil on your pillow
- A hot bath with epsom salts
- Turn off all electrical devices an hour before bed
- Chamomile tea with honey before sleeping
- Magnesium in tablet form can help to relax your muscles if you have restless legs
4. Mind-Body Connection
Your immune system is a highly intelligent and complex. It’s also known as the “floating brain” because of its ability to participate in the chemical messages sent by the brain around the body. This means that your immune system is interacting with the thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing. Think about a time when you felt super stressed – did you happen to get sick a little while after?
Meditiation can help calm down the stress response, and therefore create a positive mental space for the immune system to flourish. Think about it – when you are stressed and running on adrenalin and cortisol to get through your day, it’s very taxing on the adrenal and the immune system does not get the chance to rest and repair.
Consider lying flat on your back once a day for 20 min’s to allow your body to heal and repair. I meditate daily for 20 mins, through an APP I love called Headspace.
5. Consume living probiotics
Your immunity is made and housed in your gut, so to boost your immunity you need to focus on having good gut integrity. The word “probiotic” literally means “for life” and you need to focus on replenishing the good gut bacteria (probiotics) everyday, to help boost your immunity.
Good sources of living probiotics are:
- Natural full fat sugar free yoghurt
- Kim chi and sauerkraut
- Imbibe Living Water Kefir – our range contains around 26 BILLION active probiotics in every bottle. That’s why it’s “Scientifically Proven”.
- Kombucha – make sure it is in the fridge and raw! Not all kombucha’s are made equal!
“Functional Foods” are those with extra benefits added for the consumer. Imbibe is a functional food, as it contains Scientifically Proven living probiotics.